UV DTF print applications and samples on different shape and substrate

What’s the Difference Between UV Printer and UV DTF Printer?

Though UV printer and UV DTF printer both use ultraviolet heat and UV ink to make printing, the UV DTF printer is hot at the market recently as new printing method can print on almost all fabrics, breaking the limits of UV printer.

However, more customers and printing business owners in the printing market have questions such as: “Do I need to change my UV printer to UV DTF printer?”, “UV printer vs. UV DTF Printer, which is better?”. The detail comparisons give the answer. (Jump to Comparison Table for Quick Learn)

Learn More: the comprehensive explanation to the differences between DTF printer vs UV DTF printer.

Definition of UV printer, UV DTF printer

Though the word: “UV printer” and “UV DTF printer” look quite similar as both term contain “UV printer”, they are fairly different. First of all, let’s get a clear idea about the definition.

What is UV printer?

UV printer is a machine that can be used for UV printing. “UV” means Ultraviolet Rays, “UV printing” is UV curing printing, essentially a kind of piezoelectric inkjet printing. The drying principle of printing is that when the LED cold light source lamp emitted by the ultraviolet waves reacts with UV ink in the UV curing agent, this reaction will cause UV ink in the pigment molecules to be cured on the surface of the material, so as to complete the printing action.

What is UV DTF printer?

UV DTF printing is a new type of crystal label printing method. This technology needs glue, white uv dtf ink, UV varnish, etc. To be overlaid on a release UV DTF film to print various patterns then overlaid on a transfer film and transferred. Using this technology, the printed design patterns can be transferred to the surface of the object. The appearance is three-dimensional, like a crystal, so it is also called a crystal sticker. UV DTF printed stickers can be applied to many hard surfaces and can be removed and used without other extra processes.

UV Printer vs. UV DTF Printer: Different Process

In fact, UV DTF printing is one of the UV printing methods, but the printing process is different: UV printer works more straightforwardly while UV DTF printer process more steps to work out advantages.

How does UV printer work?

UV printer can do flatbed printing as well as 3D relief printing. Generally speaking, the total printing process is divided into the following four steps: Firstly, edit and draw the embossed color area in computer photo print software. Secondly, add the function of white ink jet hit to print control software. Thirdly, place material on the UV printer platform. Finally, click on the device to start printing. The whole process will be finished when the designed pattern is printed.

How does UV DTF printer work?

UV DTF currently has 2 types of printing methods, one is flatbed printing and another is roll-to-roll printing.
UV DTF flatbed printer is the traditional type of printing method.
Step 1: Remove the A film, with glue on the surface, usually A4 or A3 size, not in rolls.
Step 2: Tear off the surface of the A film to reveal the glue surface, then arrange the glue surface on the flatbed printer and fix the four corners on the printer flatbed.
Step 3: Print white, then print CMYK color pictures.
Step 4: Use a laminating machine to cover the B-film and laminate it.
Step 5: Use a cutting device (or cut by hand or scissors) along the edge of the image.
Step 6: Take one image from it, remove A film, stick the design image on the product surface, press it back and forth several times with your fingers, then peel off the B film. The whole printing process is finished.

UV DTF flatbed printing is a multi-step and tedious printing method. When printing or making customized small objects, as well as in the off-season market, you can choose this printer. But once the surge in orders or the market season, it will be difficult to keep up with market demand.

UV DTF roll-to-roll printing has much less steps, no need to remove the surface of the A-film and no need to use a laminating machine.
Step 1: Design the pattern and draw the spot color area.
Step 2: UV DTF printer prints directly on the A film. This A film can be placed in rolls.
Step 3: After printing the design pattern, the film is automatically laminated.
Step 4: Manual or manual cutting to transfer the pattern to various hard material surfaces. The efficiency is higher than the flatbed type printing.

Differences between UV Printer and UV DTF Printer

Though there are similarities between the two types of printers, such as both UV printer and UV DTF printer need to use ultraviolet heat to make print, there are more certain differences.

The print method difference between a UV printer and a UV DTF printer is that a UV DTF printer requires more steps than a UV printer: UV printers print on substrates directly while UV DTF printers print on AB films first, and then attach to the substrates.

Printing Ink

UV printer uses C/M/Y/BK/W and Varnish while UV DTF printers use 1 more ink: special glue, which is used to leave the printed picture onto the media (substrate).

Applicable Substrate and Type

UV DTF printer is extended from UV printer to make up for the shortcomings of UV printing. It is difficult for UV printers to print directly on smooth surfaces such as mirrors. Also, UV ink adhesion is very poor, resulting in poor overall printing effect. In spite of later technical breakthroughs, UV printer can still only be printed on part of the coated substrates,for example: metal coating, ABS coating, leather coating, silicon coating, glass coating, PC coating, etc.. But due to the limitations of its printing plane or surface, some objects need built-in device painting and it is difficult to achieve this.
UV DTF printer came into being to realize printing on more difficult surfaces such as walls, floors, windows, and the inside of cups. After transferring on the hard material surface, it is scratch-resistant and wear-resistant. This is a very economical and convenient customized printing method.

Main Applications

UV DTF print applications and samples on different shape and substrate

UV DTF printer is mainly used in paper packaging or gift boxes, glass products surface or inside (such as pet personalized dinner plates), acrylic material products, metal, plastic, leather, and other materials.
UV printers can be widely used in the advertising and banner industry, gift processing industry, signage and logo industry, decoration and decorative industry, personalized printing industry, etc.

Comparison Table: UV Printer vs. UV DTF Printer

UV Printer
UV DTF Printer
Print Method
Print on substrates directly
Print on PET films first, then attach to substrates
Printing Ink
C/M/Y/BK/W and Varnish
C/M/Y/BK/W, Varnish and Special Glue
Applicable Substrate
smaller, easily transportable substrates
All shapes and volumes
Substrate Type
acrylic, glass, card, metal, leather
glass, acrylic, wood, board, metal, textile, leather, special shapes
Main Applications
smaller application range
broader application range
UV DTF Printing vs. UV Printing

Pros & Cons of UV printer and UV DTF printer

Pros & cons of UV Printer

Pros of UV Printer:

  • UV printer, whether it is a simple single-color pattern, or colorful patterns or patterns with excessive color, can be printed in one go. Once printed, it will be dry. Due to the speciality of UV ink, the printed image is full of convex feelings and with 3D relief effect. This printer is convenient and fast, single and small batch, and cost-consistent! It can be applied to many industries and groups.

Cons of UV Printer:

  • UV printer is not suitable for printing curved products. The printing effect is not ideal, equivalent to not print. Printing concave and convex drop greater than 7mm products will cause ink fly and loose. So try to print the effect of 7mm or less.

Pros & cons of UV DTF printer

Pros of UV DTF Printer:

  • UV DTF printer can be widely used on all kinds of hard material surfaces and transferred on smooth or frosted surfaces. The advantage of personalization is obvious. The pattern can be quickly transferred to glass products, leather, wood products, metal, acrylic, paper packaging, and other materials. Easy to transfer and flexible order taking. Small orders can be completed quickly.

Cons of UV DTF Printer:

  • Compared with UV printer, there are too many printing steps and the printing efficiency is not as high as UV printer.It is still a new product and the price is relatively high.

UV Printer vs. UV DTF Printer, Which is Really Better?

Though some declared UV DTF printing is not a good UV printing way for business, it’s not completely true.

The UV printer has it’s pros such as less printing process (direct printing), higher print speed, lower cost, good and strong adhesion, however, the UV printer cannot work well on surface of object is not flat, has a bevel face with a relatively obvious slope – the UV DTF printer very well solve the problem.

UV DTF printing: peel & finish

On the other hand, the printed pattern dries out the moment it comes out of press and the stickers made of UV DTF printer are not easy to scratch or fade in use.

UV printer or UV DTF printer, which is better? The answer is: the one best suite to your printing business needs is a better one. As can be seen, every UV (DTF) printer has their own advantages to a printing business.

Though following article is about different printer type, our printing professionals recommend to read the section of “Select printer according to market & business requirement”  to get clear ideas.

Looking for a better way to help your profitable printing business? Leave a message or talk to the professional printing consultant team, Sublistar is ready to provide more informational ideas.

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