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How to Build a DTF Printer Workspace for a Screen Printing Business

DTF printing offers smaller machines, easy storage, and compatible climate and electricity needs.

When it comes to popular customization techniques, DTF printing is transforming the industry and has become the backbone of apparel customization businesses across the country. Screen printing businesses are even adding DTF to expand their versatility. These businesses can tackle jobs without the setup and maintenance of normal screen printing. 

A big step needed to add DTF technology to your business is addressing your workspace. You may be asking: “How big are these printers? What does DTF need to operate? Where do I store my DTF transfers?” These questions are important to consider when investing in a DTF printer. The quality can speak for itself, but like screen printing, operation is the true key to success. Let’s break down how to build a space for a DTF printer setup.

Considering the Space for Machines

The first thing many screen printing businesses note is the physical workspace. Screen printing technology is large. This is true for both automatic and manual screen presses. Industry standards take up an expansive 18 feet and 6 inches in diameter. This doesn’t even consider the extra machines needed, like an electric dryer. These substantial space requirements make available space a key factor for new technology. Plus, there should be an equal balance of room to create and maintain the machines, as well. If it’s impossible to fit yourself into the room with the machine, how can you get any work done?

When adding in a DTF printer, the space requirements shrink. With standard DTF printers, the combined dimensions of the large equipment involved (including powder applicator and dryer) are 13 feet in length by 6.5 feet in width. Depending on the workspace, several DTF printers can occupy the space of one screen printing press. 

Like with screen printing, DTF also needs room to operate and maintain the machine. It’s especially important when performing the daily and weekly maintenance of this printer. Matching the quality of the end product while shrinking the space needed to operate the equipment creates plenty of room for success.

If the goal is customizing T-shirts and printing transfers, a heat press is also necessary. The standard model dimensions for a heat press are 32 inches in length by 18 inches in width.

This isn’t as costly for total space needed, but it’s a key factor in a successful DTF business workspace. In comparison to standard screen printing businesses, a DTF printer setup requires much less space for machines and operation.

Addressing Storage Methods

Beyond equipment, the other significant space difference comes in storage. With screen printing, setting up a print job will take a lot of resources. A workplace that tackles several screen printing jobs at a time will have a surplus of items. This can mean a significant amount of workspace is needed for screens, emulsion, and inks. Couple that with a large inventory of blanks, and the space requirements continue to grow.

With DTF, the scale of inventory will also shrink because DTF prints onto film, eliminating the need for large screens or emulsion. This means only stocking up on DTF film and inks. Because DTF involves printing transfers, there’s room to also create an inventory of transfers. 

Planning and creating shirts without a full print job showcases DTF’s flexibility. However, an important consideration with printed transfers is the storage conditions. DTF transfers need a cool and dark place to prevent damage from direct UV light. If the storage setup follows these standards, storage spaces can be much more flexible with a DTF printer setup.

Recognizing the Proper Power Requirements

Another major factor to examine when considering expanding to DTF is power requirements. A standard DTF printer setup includes the printer, shaker, and dryer. Many DTF printing technologies run at an average of 110 to 120 volts or 220 to 240 volts. A standard screen printing press needs 208 to 230 volts.

If a business is considering a DTF printer, they may already have the necessary power infrastructure. When researching DTF printers for a screen printing business, be sure to investigate its electrical needs. Consult an electrician to ensure the workspace meets those requirements.

Creating the Optimal Climate Conditions

The proper climate can make or break both screen printing and DTF workspaces. Factors like humidity and temperature can significantly impact performance and the quality of the finished product. Any business considering adopting DTF should be aware that DTF printers perform best in a moderate temperature, between 68°F and 77°F, and an optimal humidity range between 40 and 60 percent.

A successful screen-printing business may need to adjust its working environment to accommodate DTF printing. This could involve investing in a dehumidifier and ensuring adequate air conditioning or heating as needed.

Another important factor to consider with high-production DTF printers is ventilation. If a business adopts a large dryer model for DTF, it will need an extractor. Not having proper ventilation for a DTF dryer will cause issues over the course of many print jobs. It’s imperative to have proper ventilation along with the correct climate, for any DTF printer setup.

Ready to Enter the World of DTF?

Overall, many screen printing businesses will already have the tools to build a DTF printer setup. DTF printers are generally smaller than screen printing technology. Stocking a DTF workspace and storing transfers will also require less room and effort. Both technologies have similar climate and electricity requirements.

Depending on the model of DTF printer, it may be as simple as getting the printer into the space. Then it’s off to the races printing transfers. The flexibility of DTF makes it the perfect companion to screen printing by offering smaller machines, easy storage, and compatible climate and electricity needs. It makes the decision to adopt and add DTF to a customization business an easy one.

A version of this article was originally published by Coldesi.

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