DTF stands for “direct-to-film” in printing. So how do these DTF transfers go from a piece of film and ink, to a customized t-shirt? First, the design is printed onto the film using a high-quality ink jet printer. These are not standard inks that you would use to print out a high school research paper, but rather professional textile inks that are specially created to bind to fabrics in as close to a permanent fashion as possible.
The design will be printed backwards on the film so that it appears flipped the correct way once transferred to the garment. Directions will likely be available from the supplier, usually coming with any DTF transfers you order. Make sure to read the instructions to determine the type of transfer you have acquired, which will either be a “cold peel” (meaning you peel the backing off of the freshly pressed design once it has cooled) or a “hot peel” (meaning you peel the backing off the freshly pressed design quickly after pressing). The heat locks the design to the fibers, transferring the ink from the film backing, to the fabric of the garment. Afterwards, you can cleanly remove the film and dispose of it.