If you’re an apparel decorator, you’ve probably heard of the industry’s hottest new decoration method: direct to film (DTF). You’ve probably also wondering what’s the difference between DTF vs other decorating methods, such as heat transfer vinyl (HTV). Well keep reading, because we’ve got you covered!
Decorating apparel requires choosing the right materials and techniques for the job. So, how do you know when should you use one decorating method over the other? Whether you’re looking for a simple, durable solution or want photorealistic, full-color prints, learn which heat transfer process is right for your project needs.
What is HTV?
HTV, or heat transfer vinyl, is a specialty vinyl that can be applied to apparel using a heat press. You can cut HTV yourself using a vinyl cutter or purchase pre-cut designs. HTV comes in various colors, finishes, and textures such as glitter, metallic, or flock. It’s extremely durable for printing designs on shirts, jerseys, jackets, bags, and more.
What is DTF?
In the DTF process, a printer digitally prints designs onto a heat-sensitive film. The film allows you to print detailed, full-color artwork with no weeding of material involved. DTF can be used to decorate cotton, polyester, blends, and spandex garments with a heat press.
When to Use HTV:
- Numbers, names, and simple designs
- Pre-cut designs and templates
- Special effects like glitter, flock, and puff
- Metallic, glow-in-the-dark, and other special-effect finishes
- Small personalization runs
HTV excels in creating simple vector cut designs, making reusable templates, and producing unique effects.
When to Use DTF:
- Photographic and complex full-color artwork
- Designs with gradients or color blends
- Highly detailed designs
- Small quantity orders (1-4 pieces)
- Printing on heat sensitive fabrics like polyester and spandex
DTF excels at detailed, full-color prints or for one-off or low quantity orders.
When it comes to heat printing apparel, HTV and DTF both have their advantages. Consider the type of artwork, fabrics being decorated, number of pieces needed, and any special effects desired. This will help determine whether HTV or DTF is the right heat transfer material for your project.
For more information on the differences between HTV vs DTF, check out our webinar below!