Choosing the right DTF film for your business
There are three main types of DTF film, choosing the right one for your business can be a difficult decision. Three years ago there were a handful of companies manufacturing DTF films, as the process grows in popularity the DTF film market has turned into wild west scenario with hundreds of re sellers all claiming to have the best DTF film for you. I am going to explain in detail the three different types of film and some of the speciality films like metallic and reflective.
Back to basics - what is available.
These bullet points explain in simple words what each film is best at, further on I will explain in detail the pros and cons of each one, including how they can improve or hinder your production times.
Cold Peel - Vibrant colours - best for small runs where the transfer is pressed in house and not sold on for a third party to press.
Hot Peel - Vibrant colours - best for long runs - reduces pressing time - popular for selling to a third party.
EVO Film - Vibrant colours - Best for selling to a third party as it has unique properties - Hot Peel - Warm Peel - Cold Peel - Handles fine detail very well.
The most popular film sold today is Hot Peel closely followed by the new universal EVO film.
The pro's and con's of different film types.
Cold Peel The original DTF film used by many has great vibrancy and good continuity. Most cold peel films are single sided, meaning the coating is only present on the side you print, allowing for a very accurate view of the colour side of the printed transfer. This can be useful if you like to get a good idea of how your transfer will look before pressing. The best use for cold peel film is on cotton, this is due to a higher temperature being used when pressing and for longer periods. This does make for better durability but it slows down production. The default procedure for using cold peel on cotton are as follows.
Press for 15 seconds at 165c - allow to cool before peeling - second press for 5 seconds covered by silicone paper for a softer feel.
Because of the longer press time and higher temperature cold peel film requires it is not the best choice for decorating polyester and other mixed fibre garments. Fine detail can suffer as the removal of the carrier film when cold may leave fine detail behind. It is however the best choice for photographic images which generally have a solid white under base meaning fines details is not normally an issue.
Currently the most popular film available, hot peel can speed up production time, especially when used with a twin platen semi automatic pneumatic heat press. Most hot peel films are coated both sides, you can only print onto the outer coating. The under side coating is normally an anti slip coating which avoids film skew and helps to eliminate stretch. Depending on which fabric you are pressing the pressure and times used vary a lot.
Default times - 10 seconds at 150c medium pressure - instant swift hot peel - seconds press for 5 seconds covered by silicone paper for a softer feel.
Quickest times - 8 seconds at 150c high pressure - instant swift hot peel.
Polyester - 15 seconds at 130c medium pressure - instant swift hot peel - seconds press for 5 seconds if preferred.
Problem polyesters - 15 seconds at 105c (sublimation blocking powder required) instant hot peel - second press for 5 seconds with silicone paper.
Pressing times when using hot peel film really do depend on the fabric type and knowing how much heat and time it can take. It is best to make a test garment and wash it to make sure the durability is at its best. One of the down sides to hot peel film is the coating has to be thicker, this means the film appears more opaque making a nozzle check patter harder to see and the finished print is somewhat muted when viewed behind the film. You soon get used tot his so don't let this fact put you off.
Resolute Premium EVO film
The new EVO film is a true universal DTF film that is becoming very popular. It is Cold Peel, Warm Peel and Hot Peel, all in one film. You simply use the right peel process to match the print type meaning you don't have to worry about changing the roll for different types of artwork and garments. This means less waste and no time wasted swapping rolls over. Resolute developed this film and launched it back in May 2023, it is exclusive to Resolute and we are quite proud to be the first to launch such a film with so many properties all rolled into one.
One of EVO's unique properties is its moisture blocking properties, a special invisible coating fends off moisture before it is printed. This allows EVO film to perform in high humidity with no danger of powder trying to stick to the un printed areas. The anti static properties of the invisible coating means low humidity is also not a problem. Static generated in low humidity is one of the most common issues with DTF and it can catch you out at the most inconvenient times. Take a quick look at the promo video explaining the benefits to EVO.
The pressing times for EVO are similar to Hot Peel with the exception of its cold peel properties where fine detail is used. It is important to note that the fine detail I am talking about would fail with standard Hot or Cold peel films.
Default times - 15 seconds at 155c medium pressure - instant hot peel or allow to cool and cold peel - second press for 5 seconds covered by silicone paper for a softer feel.
Quickest times - 10 seconds at 150c high pressure - instant hot peel - or allow to cool and cold peel.
Polyester - 15 seconds at 135c medium pressure - instant hot peel - or allow to cool and cold peel - second press for 5 seconds if preferred.
Problem polyesters - 15 seconds at 105c (sublimation blocking powder required) instant hot peel - or allow to cool and cold peel - second press for 5 seconds with silicone paper.
The fine detail is very fine, neck labels with very small text can really benefit from the unique properties of EVO film. There is one downside to EVO film and this in relation to its moisture blocking properties. If you are printing a single spot colour, Cyan, Magenta or black, with no other colours mixed in a large areas of flat colour it can have a slight inconsistency in the way the ink is laid down. These three flat colours are rarely printed in large areas on their own so this is a very small price to pay when the other properties are taken into account. In these circumstances a regular hot peel film will perform better.
Zoomed in on an industrial wash test performed on a Gildan ringspun t shirt - the fine detail holds amazingly well. The text is only 2mm in height and would fail on normal hot or cold peel films, this is an extreme example of how Resolute Premium EVO film handles certain fine details on a quality t shirt*
You get what you pay for! don't ignore your profile?
When you get into the scientific details of how DTF film works and the way it holds colour, the importance of continuity becomes very apparent. At Resolute we make our own profiles and welcome our suppliers to take part if they feel it is necessary.
When we recently launched the new DuPont™ Artistri® Digital Inks for DTF, lab technicians travelled from the USA to Resolute to help make the best profile and test the quality of our DTF films. I can confirm all three films we sell are certified for use with the new DuPont™ Artistri® P1600 digital DTF inks. Check out the information below on these new inks and why you should consider using them.
The new DuPont™ Artistri® Digital Inks for DTF launched at the end of May 2023. This new high quality DTF ink has raised the bar in colour gamut and printability for the entire DTF industry. The American made ink benefits from years of experience in producing pigment inks, not only do they achieve greater colour depth and printability, the printed images are softer with one of the brightest white DTF inks we have seen to date. The feel is smoother with a non oily surface, larger images do not feel so heavy due to the reduced amount of ink required to achieve a bright white with stunning vibrancy. The ink also has all the ECO passport credentials you would expect from an American manufactured product. OEKO-TEX, Gots and HAPS. Currently this is the only DTF ink to have this certification, as well as not containing any Ethylene Glycol it is certified Hazardous Air Pollutants FREE.
If anyone remembers the Fairy Liquid TV adverts, this ink offers similar properties. It costs a little more but due to its high quality tio2 the white ink runs at 60% as opposed to 90% required with most other DTF white inks. It goes a lot further.
Upgrading to these new inks is available on the R-Jet PRO DTF V range, all new installations post June 2023 will have the new ink installed as standard unless otherwise specified.
The upgrade from other DTF inks does require an engineers visit - due to the different pigments used the dampers require changing after the system is flushed. The Resolute RIP profiles are now encrypted, the special ICC profile for the new inks can be installed on version 10 and will be included automatically in version 11 launching soon.
I hope this explanation of DTF films and the new DuPont™ Artistri® Digital Inks for DTF have been informative and will help you make the right choices for your business.
*you should perform your own tests as different fabrics perform in different ways, the results shown in this blog were performed by a third party with commercial wash testing capabilities.