DTF vs Screen Printing

DTF vs Screen Printing

Sep 07, 2023Mike Powers

Whether you’re customizing merch for your business or event, or you are simply interested in understanding different techniques, knowing which method is the right one for you can help them to last and meet your needs.

Want to know which technique is the right choice for you?

In this article, we’re looking at the differences between DTF and screen printing, what they work best with and answering some of the most common questions about each method.

Table Of Contents

  • Screen Printing
    • What is screen printing?
    • How does screen printing work?
    • How much does screen printing cost? 
    • How long does screen printing last?
    • How long does screen printing take? 
  • DTF Transfers
    • What is a DTF transfer?
    • How to make a DTF transfer
    • How to press a DTF transfer
    • What does a DTF transfer feel like? 
    • How long do DTF transfers last? 
  • DTF vs Screen Printing
  • Why it’s important to choose the right printing method


Screen Printing

What is screen printing?

Screen printing is a type of printing technique where a screen, known as a mesh, is used to transfer ink onto a fabric such as a t-shirt. A blocking stencil is then used to block the printing ink to then form the image. The ink lays on top of the material rather than soaking into it.

How does screen printing work?

A screen will be created for each element of the design. The fabric is then printed layer by layer, screen by screen, until the design is built out.

Some of the best types of designs for screen printing include solid graphics, numbers, and basic logos without fine and intricate detailing.

How much does screen printing cost?

There are numerous components in factoring in how much screen printing costs. Some of these factors include:

  • Quantity of garments
  • Number of colors printed
  • Print size
  • Print location
  • Amount of ink coverage
  • Garment type

Generally, screen printing is expensive for small orders and it is a time consuming process. In some cases, dark garments cost more to produce as an under-base needs to be placed, therefore producing more ink coverage and increasing cost.

If you are screen printing for yourself, you will also need to consider the set up costs - printer, screens, screen cleaning equipment, emulsion, ink, squeegee, dryer for ink curing - plus the blank apparel and the ability to create your own designs.


How long does screen printing last?

Screen printing is a highly durable printing method and it can last significantly longer than other methods like DTG.

Screen printing can last anywhere from 50+ washes before fading, and often can last the lifetime of the garment.

How long does screen printing take?

Screen printing will take no more than 5 minutes per shirt. The drying process can vary depending on the type of ink you use, as some ink types are thicker than others.

DTF Transfers

What is a DTF transfer?

A DTF transfer stands for direct to film transfer. This is becoming an increasingly popular method where artwork is printed onto a film, and this film is then pressed onto the shirt.

Find out more about what a DTF transfer is.

How to make a DTF transfer

To make a DTF transfer yourself, you will require a series of supplies including:

  • DTF printer
  • Adhesive powder
  • DTF inks
  • Curing oven
  • Heat press / handheld press or household iron 


Alternatively, save the hassle and purchase DTF transfers by size or by gang sheet directly from us!

How to press a DTF transfer

One of the biggest advantages with DTF transfers is that you can press them simply and easily with nothing more than a household iron! However, it is recommended for the best results to use a heat press, or even a handheld press if possible.

Follow our guide on how to press a DTF transfer for more detailed instructions.

What does a DTF transfer feel like?

As DTF transfers are placed onto the garment rather than into the material like sublimation, it is important to do a second press to help to ensure the transfers feel softer and more at one with the material. This can also improve durability. Skipping this step can lead to the transfer feeling hard or plasticky. Also remember to second press!

How long do DTF transfers last?

DTF transfers are one of, if not the most, durable types of printing available on the market. This innovative technology can last for 60+ washes without cracking or fading, and remain exceptionally vibrant long term.

DTF vs Screen Printing Summary


Screen Printing

Detailed Designs



Unlimited Colors



High Quality Prints




60+ Washes

50+ Washes

On-Demand Fulfillment



Speed Per Print

15 seconds

5 minutes


Very High






Why It’s Important To Choose The Right Printing Method

As you can see from the table above, choosing the right printing method for your needs can save you both time and money. While there are pros and cons for each of the methods, DTF transfers are an innovative technique that is helping businesses across the world to produce long-lasting, vibrant designs with fast turnaround times.

Discover the benefits of DTF transfers for yourself by ordering a sample or purchasing custom DTF transfers today.

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