DTF vs Sublimation: How Notice Me Marketing Delivers Custom Prints for Every Need

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DTF vs Sublimation: How Notice Me Marketing Delivers Custom Prints for Every Need

At Notice Me Marketing and Media in Ocala, Florida, we pride ourselves on offering cutting-edge printing solutions to meet all of our customers’ needs. Two of our most popular and versatile printing methods are Direct-to-Film (DTF) and sublimation printing. While both techniques produce high-quality custom prints, they each have unique advantages that make them ideal for different applications. In this article, we’ll break down the key differences between DTF and sublimation printing, and explain how we use both processes to help customers create everything from one-off custom shirts to large bulk orders.

Understanding DTF Printing

Direct-to-Film printing is a relatively new technique that has quickly gained popularity in the custom apparel industry. At Notice Me Marketing, we’ve embraced this innovative technology to expand our printing capabilities and offer more options to our Ocala customers.

How DTF Printing Works

The DTF process involves several key steps:

  1. We create the design digitally and send it to our specialized DTF printer.
  2. The printer uses CMYK inks plus white ink to print the design onto a special clear film.
  3. While the ink is still wet, we apply a powdered adhesive to the print.
  4. The film goes through a curing process to melt the powder.
  5. We then use a heat press to transfer the design from the film onto the garment.
  6. After cooling, we peel away the film to reveal the finished print on the fabric.

Advantages of DTF Printing

DTF printing offers several benefits that make it an excellent choice for many of our customers:

  • Works on a wide variety of fabrics, including cotton, polyester, blends, and even leather
  • Can print on both light and dark colored garments
  • Produces vibrant, full-color designs with excellent detail
  • Creates a soft hand feel with minimal texture on the fabric
  • Prints are highly durable and washfast
  • Cost-effective for both small and large quantity orders

When We Recommend DTF

At Notice Me Marketing, we often suggest DTF printing for customers who:

  • Need prints on dark colored shirts
  • Want to print on 100% cotton garments
  • Are looking for photo-realistic prints with fine details
  • Require small text or intricate designs
  • Need a cost-effective solution for low quantity orders (1-100 pieces)

The Power of Sublimation Printing

While DTF is our go-to for many projects, sublimation printing remains an indispensable part of our service offerings. This tried-and-true method produces stunning results for certain applications.

How Sublimation Printing Works

The sublimation process differs significantly from DTF:

  1. We print the design onto special sublimation transfer paper using sublimation inks.
  2. The transfer paper is placed onto a polyester or poly-coated substrate.
  3. Using a heat press, we apply high heat and pressure to the transfer.
  4. The heat causes the inks to turn into a gas and penetrate the polyester fibers.
  5. As it cools, the ink solidifies and becomes permanently bonded with the fabric.

Advantages of Sublimation Printing

Sublimation offers unique benefits that make it the ideal choice for certain projects:

  • Creates a permanent print that won’t crack, peel, or fade
  • Allows for edge-to-edge and all-over printing
  • Produces incredibly vibrant colors and smooth gradients
  • Results in a print with zero texture – the design becomes part of the fabric
  • Excellent for moisture-wicking performance fabrics
  • Perfect for hard substrates like mugs, phone cases, and mousepads

When We Recommend Sublimation

At Notice Me Marketing, we typically suggest sublimation printing for customers who:

  • Need all-over prints or large designs that cover most of the garment
  • Want to print on moisture-wicking polyester sportswear
  • Are creating custom products like mugs, phone cases, or other hard goods
  • Desire ultra-soft prints with no texture
  • Require extremely vibrant colors or smooth color gradients

Comparing DTF and Sublimation: Key Differences

While both DTF and sublimation produce high-quality custom prints, there are several important distinctions between the two methods:

Fabric Compatibility:

    • DTF works on almost any fabric, including cotton, polyester, blends, and even non-textile materials.
    • Sublimation requires polyester or poly-coated substrates to work effectively.

    Color Options:

      • DTF can print on both light and dark colored garments, including black.
      • Sublimation works best on white or very light colored substrates.

      Print Area:

        • DTF is typically limited to a maximum print area of about 16″ x 20″.
        • Sublimation allows for edge-to-edge and all-over printing on garments.

        Detail and Texture:

          • DTF creates prints with a very slight texture that you can feel on the garment.
          • Sublimation results in zero texture – the print becomes part of the fabric.


            • DTF prints are highly durable but may show some wear over time with heavy use.
            • Sublimation prints are permanent and will not fade or crack for the life of the garment.

            Color Vibrancy:

              • DTF produces vibrant colors, especially on dark garments.
              • Sublimation offers unparalleled color vibrancy and smooth gradients on light substrates.

              Minimum Order Quantity:

                • DTF is cost-effective for both small and large orders, even single pieces.
                • Sublimation is most economical for larger orders but can be done for single items.

                How Notice Me Marketing Uses Both Technologies

                At our Ocala print shop, we’ve invested in both DTF and sublimation printing equipment to offer our customers the best of both worlds. Here’s how we leverage these technologies to meet diverse printing needs:

                Small Business Branding

                For local Ocala businesses looking to create branded apparel, we often use DTF printing. This allows us to produce high-quality logo shirts on a variety of garment styles and colors, even in small quantities. The durability of DTF prints ensures that these branded items will continue to look great after repeated wear and washing.

                Custom T-Shirt Orders

                When customers come to us for custom t-shirts, whether for a family reunion, school event, or local fundraiser, we assess their specific needs to determine the best printing method:

                • For dark colored shirts or 100% cotton tees, we use DTF printing.
                • If they want an all-over print or ultra-soft feel, we recommend sublimation on a polyester shirt.
                • For orders with a mix of light and dark shirts, we might use both methods to achieve the best results.

                Sports Team Uniforms

                Ocala’s youth sports leagues and school teams often require custom uniforms. For moisture-wicking polyester jerseys, we use sublimation printing to create vibrant, full-color designs that won’t interfere with the fabric’s performance properties. For cotton practice shirts or fan gear, we might opt for DTF printing instead.

                Promotional Products

                Our business customers frequently order promotional products to give away at events or to clients. For items like polyester tote bags or moisture-wicking caps, we use sublimation to create eye-catching full-color designs. For cotton items or mixed-material products, DTF printing allows us to produce high-quality prints on a variety of surfaces.

                One-Off Custom Gifts

                Individuals often come to us looking to create unique personalized gifts. The flexibility of DTF printing allows us to produce single custom t-shirts, hoodies, or even shoes with intricate designs. For items like photo mugs or personalized mousepads, we turn to sublimation printing for flawless results.

                Bulk Orders

                When customers need large quantities of printed items, we can use either DTF or sublimation depending on the specific requirements. DTF allows us to quickly produce hundreds of identical prints on various garment types. For all-over print designs or moisture-wicking performance wear, sublimation is the way to go for bulk orders.

                Choosing the Right Printing Method for Your Project

                At Notice Me Marketing, we’re committed to helping our Ocala customers achieve the best possible results for their custom printing projects. When you come to us with a printing need, our experienced team will guide you through the process of selecting the ideal method based on factors like:

                • The type of fabric or material you want to print on
                • The colors of the garments or products
                • The complexity and size of your design
                • The quantity of items you need
                • Your budget and timeline

                By offering both DTF and sublimation printing, we ensure that we can meet virtually any custom printing need, from a single personalized shirt to thousands of pieces for a large event or promotion.

                As Ocala’s premier custom printing shop, Notice Me Marketing and Media is proud to offer cutting-edge DTF printing alongside tried-and-true sublimation technology. This combination allows us to provide unparalleled flexibility and quality to our customers, ensuring that every project receives the perfect printing solution.

                Whether you’re a local business owner looking to create branded apparel, a sports team in need of custom uniforms, or an individual wanting to design a unique gift, we have the expertise and technology to bring your vision to life. Visit our shop in Ocala or contact us today to learn more about how we can use DTF and sublimation printing to create stunning custom prints for your next project.

                DTF vs Sublimation

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