Direct-to-Film Technology – Shaking Things Up in Digital Textile Printing

Direct-to-film allows you to print premium designs on sportswear and a variety of promotional textiles.

Marc Verbeem, Supervisor Product Management, Mimaki Europe

Direct-to-film printing is transforming the apparel decoration industry. The process is simple, affordable, and allows for vibrant, dynamic designs in full colour with a durable finish. Digital print service providers can expand their textile offerings, reach new customers and, thanks to its versatility, print on a wider range of fabrics. Mimaki recognized the growing popularity of the textile printing process and the need to provide a high-quality solution that uses our core technologies, combining them with our established manufacturer support.

Direct-to film vs. screen printing

Direct-to-film is a method of printing digitally directly on a special sheet of transfer film. It is then applied with a hot melt powder to fabric and heated. After the transfer sheet has been cured and dried it can be heat pressed on a wide range of fabrics. It is ideal for creating premium transfers for custom merchandise, sportswear and other promotional textile applications. Screen printing requires a lot more work than traditional screen-printing methods. Not only this, but the process does not meet direct-to-film’s ability to produce vivid colours and quality details such as shapes, lettering, and motifs often sought after in the promotional and merchandising space for bespoke textiles.

Why DTF?

Mimaki is excited to be entering a completely new market segment with the direct-to film technology. Why did we decide to take this route? One reason was that we were confident we could provide the best solution on the market, based on our core technologies as well as the technical capabilities of the digital printing machines in our textile portfolio. A stable and reliable direct-to film printing solution is also needed by the market. For a print process as complex as this, it is important to have a partner who can provide dependable aftercare. Mimaki’s reputation is synonymous with support, which is what direct-to-film customers can expect every step of the way.

The Mimaki TxF150 75

Mimaki’s first direct-to-film inkjet printer is the TxF150-75, a fitting extension to the 150 series, with a maximum printing width of 80cm. Offering a stable printing plotter, the model’s built-in ink circulation system and degassed ink pack are resolutions to common direct-to-film challenges such as poor ink ejection and white ink clogging. The new printer includes Mimaki’s NCU (Nozzle-Check Unit) and the NRS (Nozzle-Recovery System) to ensure stable and uninterrupted printing. Operating in harmony with the textile printer itself is Mimaki’s ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® certified water-based pigment textile inks, formulated especially for the TxF150-75. Coupled with Mimaki’s RasterLink7 RIP software, users are offered end-to-end oversight and efficiency from creative design to final product.

In addition, and in line with Mimaki’s collaborative approach to meeting customer needs, Adkins has developed an 80cm wide powder shaker cure unit to complete this ‘A brand’ direct-to-film Printing solution. Customers can now print large garments at a lower cost by using the 80cm wide printer and the post-processing units.

The Mimaki TxF15075 solution is an exciting solution for Mimaki clients who are in the decorated apparel industry or looking for a solution that will help them enter the digital textile market.

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