Transfer Terminology: Screen Print or DTF

When it comes to apparel decoration, there are various methods available, each with its own unique characteristics. Two commonly confused methods are screen print transfers and direct to film transfers. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between the two. In this blog post, we will explore the dissimilarities in how they are made, what they look like, and how they are applied to apparel.

What are Screen Print Transfers?

Screen print transfers, also known as plastisol transfers, are created using a screen printing process. First, the design is printed onto a special release paper using a screen and ink. The ink used in screen print transfers is typically a plastisol ink, which is a PVC-based ink that provides vibrant colors and excellent durability. Once the design is printed, it is cured at a high temperature to ensure proper adhesion to the release paper.

What are Direct to Film Transfers?

Direct to film transfers, on the other hand, are made using a different technique. Instead of printing the design onto a release paper, the design is printed directly onto a transparent film. This film is typically made of a heat-resistant material that can withstand the application process. The ink used in direct to film transfers is often a water-based or solvent-based ink, which allows for a high level of detail and color accuracy.

How do they differ in appearance?

When it comes to appearance, screen print transfers and direct to film transfers have distinct characteristics. Screen print transfers tend to have a slightly raised texture due to the plastisol ink. The colors are vibrant and opaque, providing excellent coverage on dark fabrics. They also tend to be sold on a thicker paper like material and applied with the image facing the apparel. On the other hand, direct to film transfers have a smooth and flat appearance. The colors are more vibrant and detailed, making them ideal for intricate designs and photographic prints. DTF transfers are print on more translucent material and applied with the image facing you.

How are they applied to apparel?

The application process for screen print transfers and direct to film transfers also differs. Screen print transfers are applied using a heat press. The transfer is placed onto the garment, and heat and pressure are applied to bond the ink to the fabric. This process allows for quick and efficient application, making it suitable for large production runs.

Direct to film transfers, on the other hand, require a slightly different approach. The film is first placed onto the garment, and heat and pressure are applied to transfer the ink from the film to the fabric. This method requires more precision and attention to detail, making it ideal for smaller production runs or custom orders.

In conclusion, while screen print transfers and direct to film transfers may seem similar, they have distinct differences in how they are made, what they look like, and how they are applied to apparel. Screen print transfers are created using a screen printing process, have a slightly raised texture, and are applied using a heat press. Direct to film transfers are made by printing directly onto a transparent film, have a smooth appearance, and require precision during application. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right method for your apparel decoration needs.

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