Comparison between Direct-to-Textile and Heat Transfer Printing

||Comparison between Direct-to-Textile and Heat Transfer Printing

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Comparison between

Direct-to-Textile and Heat Transfer Printing

Digital printing has made a lot of difference in the printing industry.

Now we’ll introduce two kinds of methods (direct-to-textile and heat transfer printing) below and list out some pros and cons to each.

Direct to textile printer

It is an inkjet technology that prints directly onto fabrics or any textile substrate without transfer paper. Through the heater the finished image is there to see. And polyester fabrics need to be pretreated.


1. The nature of image: The inks used in direct to textiles printing penetrate further into the fabric than those used in transfer printing. Therefore, the color can be more muted and softer.

2. High penetration: In direct to textile printing, there is also greater show-through on the reverse side of the fabric, that is the reason of widely used in producing flags.

3. Save time and money: Direct-to-textile printer has eliminated the need of transfer paper and heat transfer machinery, making the costs to produce lower, and the labor cost is also much lower. Furthermore, most of the direct machines have a heating unit built into them, it saves the time associated with transfer and eliminates the need for a separate transfer press.


1. Production capacity: It is suitable for small batches, not cost-effective for extremely large batches. As for large batches, the production efficiency of heat transfer printing must be better.

2. The side effect of pre-treatment: Sometimes the pre-treatment can react to the garment and can leave quite an obvious staining. We can’t know that this will happen until we have applied the pre-treatment and wait for a reaction.

3. Fabric choices: The fabric choices for the best print are limited to flat, smooth surfaced fabrics, otherwise the printing quality is terrible.

Heat transfer printing

An image is printed on transfer paper.

Use a heat press or canlender to release the printed image, under high temperature and heavy pressure.

When the transfer paper is contacted with the material in a very heat press, the ink embedded within the paper is converted to a gas (a process known as sublimation) and penetrates directly into the fibers of the substrate, that’s all.


1. Washfast and durable: It works by slightly melting the fibers, and thus the ink physically becomes part of materials. That’s the reason why transfer-based fabrics are so washfast and durable.

2. High printing quality: Paper transfer has higher resolution, and greater detail is achievable with less dot gain.

3. High efficiency: It is more cost-efficient for large batches and faster in production.

4. Less messy: Your products won’t be damaged by ink spills if you use a heat transfer machine. Because you can divide dye sublimation printer and heat transfer machine into two places to operate.


1. Limitation: The disadvantage about transfer printing is the quality of the photo based on the outcome of the printed photo.

2. Time consuming: Each image needs to be cut precisely to eliminate the extra paper you do not want to print onto the image.

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