The Rapid Rise of Digital Printing’s New Business: Trends in White Ink Digital Transfer (DTF) Technology





The Rapid Rise of Digital Printing's New Business: Trends in White Ink Digital Transfer (DTF) Technology

White Ink Digital Transfer (DTF) printing has been around for only about two decades, making it a relatively new technology. Despite its youth, it has significantly impacted the entire industry. The widespread adoption and availability of DTF technology have fueled market growth at a breathtaking pace. Yet, this rapid growth has also intensified industry competition.

According to a report by Keypoint Intelligence, the DTF print volume in 2022 was estimated at around 1.9 billion square meters. By 2027, this figure is expected to skyrocket to approximately 10 billion square meters.


In terms of market value, the report suggests that the retail value of the DTF market was $2.78 billion in 2022. By 2027, this number is projected to reach a staggering $14 billion. The report highlights that “DTF adoption rates are unprecedented in the apparel industry. In 2022, DTF devices accounted for about 44.5% of all DTF, direct-to-garment (DTG), and transfer device installations. By 2027, DTF printers are expected to make up 64.4% of such installations.”

The report also notes that there were approximately 9,082 DTF devices worldwide in 2022. This number is anticipated to grow to nearly 15,000 by 2027, with dual-head DTF printer machines dominating the market, and four-head DTF printers comprising about a quarter of the market share.

Given these trends, one might wonder: Can DTF still be a profitable business? The short and definitive answer is: Yes. However, for print service providers (PSPs) to achieve long-term profitability and high margins, they need to adeptly leverage DTF printing technique in service offerings and production.

In recent years, the accessibility of DTF machines has driven market growth. Affordable equipment solutions from China mean almost anyone can offer DTF services to customers. While this is great for businesses looking to diversify, it has also led to market saturation.

DTF printing

Keypoint Intelligence’s report directly addresses this issue, noting that “the DTF market is still in its early stages, with significant turmoil among hardware suppliers. Its development path mirrors the early evolution of DTG.”

So, how can one stand out from the competition and attract valuable clients? The answer is simple: offer better service.

For customers seeking quick and cheap solutions without high-quality demands, there are plenty of options. However, quality-conscious clients prefer to work with excellent DTF printer manufacturer, which means partnering with top-tier brand DTF printer machine.

Before diving into what makes a high-quality DTF machine, let’s first understand DTF and why this technology is so popular in textile print techniques.

DTF printer application

Firstly, DTF technology is easy to learn and master. Printing with water-based pigment inks on PET film is quite similar to paper printing, making it straightforward for print shops. Additionally, it can be done in a relatively small space, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Secondly, DTF printing technology is fast, allowing PSPs to achieve quick turnaround times. Once film printing is complete, it can be stored until needed for transfer, enabling PSPs to prepare work in advance and eliminate the need for double white or CMYK printing with other methods.

Moreover, while DTF film and hot adhesive powder incur additional costs, DTF often proves to be the most cost-effective process, providing economic benefits to PSPs of various sizes.

Lastly, the broad application range opens up various markets for print companies. DTF printing technology can be used for printing on common apparel like t-shirts, hoodies, and sportswear, as well as promotional items and even interior decorations.

When discussing DTF, we must also mention DTG. After all, both employ direct printing methods.

DTG printing doesn’t require transfers or film and powder, but even with these costs considered, DTF still often offers a cost advantage. Additionally, DTF doesn’t need pre-treatment and is suitable for various fiber types. Finally, in terms of color range, fine details, and garment elasticity, DTF printing method boasts unique advantages.

The points discussed above are based on current market offerings, but what about the future?

DTF film

At the 2024 FESPA, we saw some innovations in the DTF field, with manufacturers and suppliers promising many exciting developments. One of the key factors impacting the DTF market and all printing sectors is sustainability. As customer demand for eco-friendly printing grows, manufacturers must respond, which is evident in the DTF domain.

Take Mimaki, for example. The manufacturer recently announced the new Mimaki TxF300-75, capable of printing on cotton, polyester, and polyester blends, as well as light and dark fabrics, offering the best of both DTF and DTG printing worlds.

The new machine comes with a standard two-year warranty and uses Mimaki inks certified by the OEKO-TEX ECO PASSPORT, meeting the increasing customer demand for skin-friendly and environmentally friendly production.

This new model aims to build on the early success of Mimaki’s DTF series launched last year. The TxF150-75 has sold over 300 units in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Mimaki claims the latest model is three times faster than previous models, designed for the professional bulk garment decoration market.

“Hybrid Sales Director says, ‘The TxF300-75 shows the rapid rise in popularity of direct-to-film processes. Now, launching alongside the successful TxF150-75, it offers more choices for businesses entering or expanding in the garment decoration market.'”

RA Smart also supports DTF, having distributed DTF solutions from Polytech, one of the pioneers in DTF technology, since 2021.

RA Smart’s Product Marketing Manager Alex Mighall has witnessed this market expansion firsthand. He attributes the remarkable growth of DTF to its unique technological advantages and highlights the emergence of numerous different DTF platforms in recent years. He adds that the influx of major brands will only drive further growth.

“Undoubtedly, DTF technology offers an excellent solution, but working with reputable distributors is crucial to minimize the learning curve of new technology as much as possible.”

Regarding market trends, RA Smart has identified an overall trend in DTF machines: providing faster turnaround times for customers and increasing the diversity of products a single machine can produce.

He notes that large print suppliers are now investing in multiple machines and more efficient systems, so the demand for higher productivity systems will continue to grow.

24 Inch 2 Heads A1 DTF Printer

There are undoubtedly many options for DTF printer machine, but opinions on whether to invest will vary. For those looking to enter the DTF market, one option is to collaborate with professional textile printer manufacturer. Of course, this means giving up some profit but also avoiding the hassle of investing in training and being able to start taking orders immediately.

So, is it worth it? It depends on how much DTF you plan to do. If you already have agreements with existing customers, are confident in your orders, and are proficient in this technology, it might be worth diving in directly. On the other hand, if you’re looking to test the waters before fully committing, partnering with a trade partner is also a good option.

In conclusion, there’s much to be excited about when it comes to DTF printing technology. This technology not only allows for the production of various printed products but also shows rapid development, with many big companies entering the market with their own DTF machines. This suggests that we can expect even more growth and expansion in this already very active market.

Table of Contents

Get A Free Quote