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Should You Bring Direct-to-Film Printing In-House at Your Decorating Shop?

Should You Bring Direct-to-Film Printing In-House at Your Decorating Shop?

Print and embroidery shops are increasingly adopting direct-to-film printing, and for good reason. This method quickly prints high-contrast, full-color designs onto special film. 

Unlike other techniques, you can transfer DTF prints with heat onto a wide variety of fabrics and textiles, including cotton/polyester blends, leather, nylon and  cordura. UV DTF technology allows you to apply transfers to hard substrates like plastics, wood, glass, and metal – so you can decorate awards and promo products like phone cases.

So, how can a print shop decide if they should bring direct-to-film transfer printing in-house?

6 Benefits of Adding Direct-to-Film Transfers to Your Shop

First, it's important to understand how direct-to-film transfers offer several key benefits that can significantly enhance your screen-printing operation:

1. Improved print quality and detail: Direct-to-film transfers allow for greater design detail and precision than traditional methods. The transfer process creates crisp, clean images with sharp edges, resulting in a higher-quality final product that will impress your customers.

2. Faster turnaround times and increased efficiency: Direct-to-film transfers streamline the screen preparation process, eliminating the need for film positives and reducing setup time. This efficiency translates into faster turnaround times for orders, allowing you to take on more projects and increase productivity.

3. Cost savings: While an initial investment is required to implement direct-to-film transfers, the long-term cost savings can be significant. Eliminating the need for film positives and reducing setup time can lower production costs and increase profitability.

4. Improved registration and color accuracy: Direct-to-film transfers offer improved registration accuracy, ensuring that each color in your design lines up ideally during printing. This results in greater color consistency and accuracy, producing a more professional-looking final product.

5. Expanded design capabilities: Direct-to-film transfers open up a world of design possibilities, allowing you to take on more complex and intricate projects. Whether you’re printing fine text, detailed images, or intricate patterns, direct-to-film transfers can help you achieve the precise results you’re looking for.

6. Enhanced customer satisfaction: Ultimately, the benefits of direct-to-film transfers translate into greater customer satisfaction. By delivering higher-quality prints in less time and at a lower cost, you can exceed your customers’ expectations and build loyalty for your business.

 Questions to Ask Before Jumping Into DTF

Suppose you’re planning to switch to direct-to-film transfers. Before doing so, you should consider several factors.

1. Does DTF match your current average orders and customer needs? Consider whether direct-to-film transfers align with your customer base’s needs and preferences. Direct-to-film transfers offer high-resolution prints with crisp details, making them ideal for customers who demand high-quality results. Evaluate whether your current customer base values these qualities and if direct-to-film transfers could help you attract new customers.

2. What’s your initial investment? Assess the cost of equipment and training required for the switch. Direct-to-film printer systems typically require a higher upfront investment than traditional screen-printing methods. However, long-term labor and material cost savings can offset this initial expense.

You do need specialized printing equipment to print on transparent film to achieve direct-to-film transfers in-house. Many decorators begin with DTF by outsourcing their transfer creation. However, setting up in-house can be a wise investment. 

Here’s what you need:

  • DTF Printer: Talk to a reputable manufacturer to find the best fit for your needs.
  • DTK Ink: Start with a large ink kit with all the necessary colors.
  • DTF Adhesive Powder: Apply this powder onto your film for heat transfer onto your surface.
  • DTF Film: Available in sheets or rolls of various sizes.
  • Heating Element: Use a heat press or curing oven; consult a manufacturer for the best options.

Direct-to-film transfers streamline the printing process, making it more accessible and cost-effective for businesses of all sizes. By understanding this technology and the equipment required, printers can enhance their capabilities and offer clients high-quality results.

3. Have you chosen to work with a reliable DTF manufacturer or supplier? Selecting an inexpensive machine from a vendor you don’t know much about or that doesn’t have a U.S.-based office can set you up for struggles from the get-go. By choosing a “cheaper” vendor, you will potentially deal with support, parts, and technical help. 

4. Are you ready to put in the time to train yourself and your staff on the new equipment? Anticipate a potential learning curve for your staff as they adapt to the new process. Direct-to-film transfers require a different approach to screen printing, so comprehensive training is essential. Consider investing in training programs or workshops to ensure your team is proficient in using the new technology. Finding a vendor that provides support for both the equipment and supplies in the U.S. brings an unmatched sense of security and reassurance.

Considering DTF Printing for Your Screen-Printing Shop

Deciding whether to offer DTF printing depends on your business model and goals. Review your order history to gauge demand for small print runs suited to DTF if you have an established shop. However, if your orders are primarily large, the investment may not align with your current needs.

For newcomers, consider your long-term goals. Traditional screen printing may be more suitable if you aim for high-volume printing. But if you prefer a more accessible entry into apparel decoration or want to offer small custom runs, DTF could be a viable option. The decision should align with your business strategy and customer needs.

Why DTF Works Alongside Screen Printing

DTF transfers are amazing for creating designs with lots of colors, so they’re the perfect choice for colorful, complex or photorealistic transfers. Screen printing, which requires a new screen for every shade in the design, is better for designs with fewer colors or for much higher order quantities. 

So, as you can see, DTF transfers and screen printing can complement each other in your shop, depending on the particular design and job. 

Get started by browsing Arcus Printers' DTF Printing Systems.

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