March 31, 2023

Indoor Air Quality Concerns For Direct-to-Film (DTF) Printing

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Indoor Air Quality Concerns For Direct-to-Film (DTF) Printing

Textile printing is the practice of bonding patterns or images to fabric using color pigments. If done properly, printed textiles will not fade from friction or washing. Unlike dyeing, where a surface is uniformly covered in the same color, textile printing applies color specific to an image or design. So describes the direct-to-film printing process.

Transferring an image or pattern to fabric dates back to ancient China, where designs were carved into woodblocks and color applied in order to “print” an image onto the cloth. Other methods followed such as copperplating, rubber-stamping, stenciling, and silk-screening. Textile printing combines design, art, and engineering.

Today, the most common methods of fabric printing are screen, block, roller, and heat transfer. Of the latter process, DTF is the most recent innovation.


Direct-to-film (DTF) printing is a heat-transfer technology that copies an image or artwork onto a special film using water-based inks. DTF differs from traditional one-step direct-to-garment printing in several ways. Unlike other garment printing methods, DTF images can be printed on a regular inkjet printer by replacing paper with PET (polyethylene terephthalate) film. The direct-to-film printing process is a two-step process whereby an image is covered in a thermo-adhesive powder and then heated before transferring it to a particular surface or material. 

Furthermore, DTF printing can transfer any kind of image including photographs, artwork, print logos, designs, and more to a wide variety of surfaces. DTF printing can create these images on not only clothing and apparel, but on an abundance of surfaces such as luggage, bags, upholstery, even wood and leather, glass, and metal. 


Compared to traditional printing methods, DTF is relatively new and the safety of its long-term use has not been established. Therefore, there is limited information available about latent health risks. As with all printing methods that use inks, adhesives, and powders, clean indoor air quality is vital to workers’ good health and safety. DTF printing dust, smoke, and fume emissions can potentially cause discomfort and long-term health risks to print operators.

Therefore, it is always recommended that people wear appropriate PPE such as a face shield or mask and goggles. Better yet, DTF users should employ the use of an air cleaning system to collect and filter any emissions before they enter a worker’s breathing space.

Luckily for printshop owners and industry workers, air cleaning products such as our 400 model and 987 line of fume extractors are designed to remove printer emissions through consistent airflow, superior filtration, and a compact portable design. After only one use, our DTF printing customers noticed substantial improvement in their air quality after using our fume extractor.

Contact an AIRSInc clean air specialist today to find out which product is right for your print shop needs.

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