DTF Vs. Sublimation: Top 4 Variations & Best Guide

DTF vs. Sublimation [4 major differences]

The printing industry has seen rapid growth over the years, with different fantastic methods emerging, printing on fabrics and other canvases has ever been easier. DTF and sublimation printing are some of the most popular printing methods that excel in versatility and print quality.

DTF printing and sublimation will be explored and compared in detail, providing you with the information to know which is best for you.

DTF printing: overview

Direct-to-film printing also known as DTF printing is a very popular printing technique that involves transferring designs directly from a film, this direct-to-film technique is a very straightforward and effective way to transfer designs onto several canvases.

The straightforward nature of this method has made it very popular over the years, it involves a very simple procedure and I recommend this technique over traditional printing methods which might involve complicated steps and several complex materials.

This digital printing method involves the use of Inkjet technology and PET film to directly transfer a design onto the canvas.

 Using DTF printers is very swift and straightforward. Although there is no need to pretreat the fabric when using the DTF printing method, instead a special powder is used after the design is transferred to stop the ink from running.

There’s no denying that sustainability is becoming a bigger priority in the printing business, and the fact that printing direct to film is very sustainable gives this method an advantage over most traditional methods. 

This special technique allows you to create custom designs, patterns, and graphics on any fabric you can lay your hands on, from T-shirts to hoodies and jerseys, almost any fabric can be enhanced using this technique.

Direct-to-film printing also excels in home furnishings and interior décor, you can use this fantastic method to customize your decorative fabrics, for instance, you can design repeated patterns on your curtains or design your favorite animal on your throw pillows.

With a DTF printer you can enhance the look of sportswear and accessories, like your football jersey or gym clothes. I recommend this awesome printing process for delivering stunning and long-lasting prints on any sportswear.

Image credit: www.dtfprintsdxb.com

Pros and Cons of DTF printing


  • No pretreatment: the method does not require any preparation of the canvas you will be printing on, unlike most other methods where you will have to go through the stress of treating the canvas before printing.
  • Stress-free: using DTF printing is very straightforward and stress-free, I find this method less tedious and faster than some other techniques like screen printing.


  • Slightly reduced vibrancy: though the results of this technique are usually beautiful and vibrant, they have a slightly reduced vibrancy when compared to sublimation printing.
  • Discoloration: exposing your beautiful to a high level of heat can lead to discoloration, I found that the ink may change in color if you iron your fabric at a very high temperature.

Sublimation printing: overview

Sublimation printing is an amazing printing method that involves using heat to make permanent designs on materials, in this technique, the solid ink directly converts to gas to create a vivid and permanent sublimation print.

The design of your choice is printed on a special transfer paper using a sublimation printer made primarily for the process, then this sublimation paper is placed on the canvas and heated.

I find this technique suitable for a countless range of materials, most of your personal belongings seem perfect enough until you expose them to sublimation.

You can use sublimation on your mug or tumbler to personalize it and give it a touch of class, your favorite T-shirt is just one sublimation away from looking a thousand times better.

The durability of a sublimation print is nothing less than mind-blowing, the prints maintain their beautiful appearance even after washing the material over and over again, exposure to sunshine has little to no effect on these materials, and the prints repel fading and maintain their exceptional durability even after a long time.

The ink becomes a permanent part of the canvas, so you don’t have to worry about your wonderful print quality getting destroyed.

Image credit: www.brildor.com

Pros and Cons of sublimation printing


  • Versatility: you can use sublimation printing on a wide range of surfaces like mugs, fabrics, and tumblers.
  • Breathable: fabrics enhanced using this wonderful technique are very breathable and comfortable to wear.


  • Compatibility: though sublimation works for several canvases, you can only use materials with a sublimation coating.
  • Limited durability: sublimation creates durable prints on surfaces with a sublimation coating but sublimation prints have a reduced durability on surfaces without a coating.
Image credit: www.gelato.com

DTF vs. sublimation: comparison

Both DTF printing and sublimation printing are excellent methods that can produce printed designs on different surfaces, they both involve a swift and easy printing process and they are both perfect

Sublimation printing begins by creating any design of your choice using a design software, this design is then printed on a special transfer paper, and the sublimation paper is used for the printing process.

While in DTF printing the design is printed on a film, then it is heated with a heat press and a powder, sublimation also uses a heat press but without the powder.

One of my favorite parts of DTF printing and sublimation is that both their designs are permanent, so you don’t have to worry about your design fading away or printing on it over again. Below are four major differences between DTF printing and sublimation.

Image credit: www.brildor.com
  1. DTF uses a powder and heat for transfer, while sublimation uses sublimation paper.
  2. DTF can work with all kinds of fabrics, while sublimation is only recommended for light-colored polyester materials.
  3. Sublimation colors are not very vivid, while DTF is very vivid and detailed.
  4. In DTF you can feel the printed layer while the design is smooth and not feelable in sublimation.
Image credit: salepeaket.live


Does DTF last as long as sublimation?

DTF prints stand out from the material, so they will most likely last longer than sublimation prints.

Can I use my sublimation printer for DTF?

Though using a printer primarily designed for DTF printing is a better option, you can use sublimation printers as substitutes.

Do DTF transfers feel like vinyl?

No, though DTF transfers feel hard, the results of heat transfer vinyl have a rougher and harder texture than most other transfer techniques.

What is the difference between a DTF transfer and a sublimation?

DTF printing involves direct printing over a film, while sublimation transfers use heat transfer to print.

Can I use DTF on mugs?

Yes, DTF printing is a fantastic printing technique that can be applied on a wide range of canvases including mugs.

The bottom line

DTF and sublimation printing are both amazing techniques that can produce incredible results when done the right way, both printing techniques have their respective pros and cons, and the ultimate choice of the right printing method depends on your preferences and taste.






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