How long do DTF Transfers last?
It’s no secret that direct-to-Film (DTF) transfers are all the rage in the apparel printing industry. This method of printing has been popularized as “game changing technology”. But is there a secret kept hidden between the threads about DTF’s durability? How long do DTF transfers really last, and are they really as durable as they seem to appear?
But first… What is durability?
When it comes to apparel printing, durability speaks to a few different things. As it intuitively implies, durability refers to how long a printed design will last through the wear-and-tear of washing a garment. This includes how flexible the printed design is and how well the design can retain its vibrancy and level of detail over time and through wash cycles. A 100% durable print will remain unchanged in its design clarity and color vibrancy for the lifetime of the garment that it is printed on. Now, we know that nothing lasts forever in life, but with game-changing technology like DTF transfers, you can get pretty darn close.
How durable are DTF transfers, really?
In the world of apparel printing, DTF transfers are considered to be amongst the most durable type of printing method. Some suggest that DTF prints last the lifetime of the garment itself, while others say you can expect up to 5 solid years out of a DTF transfer, or otherwise 50 washes. But there is some care involved on the part of the garment owner in order for this to actually be true.
What factors affect DTF Transfer durability?
In order to understand what affects durability of DTF transfers, it’s important to first recap how this printing method works. You may recall that DTF transfers use a transfer film or transfer paper to first print your design onto using an inkjet printer. Next, the transfer paper is set onto the fabric or garment of choice, and using a heat press, the design is transferred onto the fabric. The heat transfer process allows the ink to adhere to the fabric.
Now that you know the method, it would make sense that the type of fabric, the washing/drying/maintenance of the garment, and the application or transfer process are all critical points that significantly impact the longevity of a DTF transfer.
The best type of fabric to use for a DTF transfer is one that is stable and high-quality. Natural fibres tend to work better because they are less likely to degrade over time. Natural fibres also absorb ink better, making the transfer process much more efficient. The best natural fibre to work with is cotton. Synthetic fibres like polyester or nylon will likely split or fade over time, so if you do have a garment with polyester, make sure it’s a blend with cotton.
Washing, Drying, and Maintenance
As with any garment, the less care that you invest in the piece, the more likely it is to fray, fade, or tear. This is especially important for printed garments, whose designs can peel or fade away without due diligence. Care instructions for DTF transfers include regular washing to prevent the setting of permanent dirt and stains, washing in cold water with a mild detergent, avoiding the use of harsh chemicals like fabric softeners or bleach, and using low dryer-heat settings (or air-drying) to avoid heat damage. When washing a DTF transfer printed garment, it’s always best to wash the garment inside out for less contact with the design. Do not iron over the DTF print.
Application is a very delicate process that requires expert hands with experience using heat transfers. Because of the use of high temperatures, which, when used incorrectly, can actually damage a garment, it’s crucial to know the exact time, temperature, and pressure to ensure the ink from the transfer film is completely transferred and cured into the fabric. Less than optimal conditions in the application and transfer process can lead to less-than-optimal quality and durability.
This is why it’s essential to choose the right company with the right expertise on this very delicate transfer method for the best results. When choosing A2Z Wholesale Apparel, you will see the difference in quality, with vibrant, detailed, clear print designs that will last you for years to come.