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DTG vs. Heat Transfer Film Printing

Looking to expand your offerings? Here's a side-by-side comparison of two viable options. 

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If you’re looking to expand your shop’s capabilities and you can’t quite decide which route to go, let’s take a look at two great options. For comparison purposes, here’s a chart that shows the differences between two different print technologies for apparel decorating:

DTG printing versus using heat transfer film printed on print/cut devices:

DTG Printer Print/Cut Printer
  • Good for light and dark cotton T-shirts
  • Good for light and dark cotton T-shirts
  • Good for some polyester T-shirts
  • Good for polyester T-shirts and other types of materials; i.e. spandex and leather, depending on the film used
  • Different platens needed to print sleeves, youth garments and hats
  • No special platen needed
  • May need pre-treatment
  • No pre-treatment needed
  • Heat press is needed to set the inks onto fabric
  • Heat press is needed to activate the heat transfer film
  • Soft hand
  • Depending on film thickness, there may be a “plastic” feel on the fabric
  • Good for short runs
  • Good for short runs
  • Good for photographic images
  • Good for photographic images
  • Single platen units print one shirt at a time
  • Able to print multiple images across width of media
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance schedule, that can include flushing out ink system periodically (white ink set-up)
  • Minimal regular maintenance (usually monthly) with no ink flushing or purging requirements
  • Able to print directly on other blanks; i.e. wood, canvas, and hats
  • Able to print on other print media; i.e. banners, canvas, paper, vinyl decals, wall graphics
Josh Ellsworth, Stahls'

Josh Ellsworth

Josh is the VP of sales, dealer channel for Stahls'. He deals in the sales and implementation of heat-applied, apparel-decorating systems with a focus on customization. He holds skills in the production, sale, and marketing of customized apparel. He presents seminars at trade shows and contributes articles to trade publications, like Printwear magazine.

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