DTF vs DTG: Which Is More Profitable for YOUR Print Shop?

Since the release of our DTF series, we get quite a few questions concerning if it can be used in lieu of DTG, is DTG still necessary, and is either really profitable to one's shop. And in short, the answer is YES! Whether your print shop is big or small, it can benefit from having both DTG and DTF as production processes. To help better make the decision for yourself, however, we are going to break down the pros and cons of both processes so that you may choose which is best for your shop, and in turn, make you more money!

Synthetic vs. Natural Fibers

The first thing that comes to mind when printing on apparel is the type of fabric on which you are printing. With natural fibers such as cotton, DTG is a pretty safe way to go. And with 100% polyester, there are ways to DTG on that as well. But often times, a customer will come in with an order for apparel that is made of a fabric blend. Because of this, it is important to know how to print on that apparel so that you can still accept that order in your shop.

This is where DTF comes in. With DTF, no ink is going into the apparel fibers, but rather being heat pressed on to the fabric with the adhesive powder. Therefore, it does not matter what fiber the apparel is made of as long as it can withstand the heat. Thus, DTF is an excellent solution for when the customer is unsure of the apparel's fiber content, or when it is a fabric that cannot be DTG printed. 

Pretreat Sensitivity

Another hinderance for DTG is that some apparel types, colorways, and styles can be sensitive to pretreat. Pretreat is use to help the DTG ink set into the fabric, thus improving the garment print's quality, washability, and wear. But, we have found that shades of red, pink, green, grey, yellow, and brown often do not react well with pretreat and leave a "shadow" outline on the apparel. These are all typical and popular colors for customers to order in their apparel, so this issue poses a big problem for print shops.

With DTF, though, there is no need for pretreat. And while you will be able to feel the DTF transfer on the surface of the apparel, the washability, print quality, and wear of DTF is nearly comparable to DTG. And, you will not suffer the loss of wasting apparel ruined by pretreat sensitivity. So, if you come across this dilemma in your orders, now you know that DTF is the way to go!

Difficulty of Heat Pressing the Apparel

Something else to consider when choosing between DTF and DTG is if the actual item on which you are decorating can physically be heat pressed. Some items, such as constructed hats, items with plastic findings like zippers or buttons (though you CAN decorate these items with specialized platens, like the Face Mask Kit for Heat Press!), or structured garments, cannot be heat pressed due to the nature of their assembly. For these items, DTG is the solution.

The Volume of Your Print Shop

The next factor in comparing DTG and DTF is the volume your print shop produces. If you only take small, print on demand orders, DTF may be a great asset for production in your shop. With it, you can produce samples for customers, save valuable production time and costs, and accept one-off orders. But, if you typically take in higher volume orders, DTG will be the better option as it offers the ability to create a fast and efficient production flow, and the cost of time and supplies used will be worth the profit made from a big order.

 Consideration of the End Product

Lastly, an aspect that is always necessary for appraisal is what the customer wants the end product to be. DTF is a film transfer that gets adhered to the apparel through heat, so it feels like a smooth, more malleable, decal on the surface of the apparel. Like with screen print, you can feel that the DTF transfer is there. With DTG, the ink is set into the fabric, meaning it offers a much softer hand feel for the apparel after printing. In other words, you will not be able to feel the print on the fabric, especially after a round in the wash. 

So, all in all, the battle of DTF vs DTG depends on three things: what kind of shop you have, what kind of orders you take, and what the customer wants their order to be. Realistically, both are excellent and highly-profitable production types for print shops of all types, so it is vital to know about both. And this way, you can now make decisions for yourself based on your print shop!

To learn how you can make DTF transfers with your DTG printer (DTG transfers), click here! To see how you can decorate isolated areas with both DTG and Heat Press, click the desired Face Mask Kit print type!


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