DTF – Direct to Film Review
EPSON L1800. Sat 7.11.2020
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Epson L1800 A3+ DTF ( Direct to Film ) Printer.
Converted to print PET Film.
RIP Software to enable full colour prints with a White underbase printed in
a single pass. Uses a 6 colour C,M,Y,K,W,W setup.
DTF System Overall:
I have comprehensively tested this NEW print system over the last 2 weeks
using various images and different substrates and a variety of coloured garments.
The overall result and quality of the print is very impressive. The print itself is not
to heavy, is flexible and can be stretched without cracking.
This system will eventually replace costly DTG printers in my opinion.
After a few initial problems with the RIP installation we eventually got it to
run fine. The inks are a nice viscosity and have a smooth feel to them.
Once the print is complete the adhesive powder is applied and i then let
them air dry for an hour before heating and melting the glue for a finished
print / transfer that can be used straight away or stored for future pressing.
The print or transfer adheres to a variety of substrates, I tested them on
100% Cotton, Poly Cotton Hoodies, Polyester, Satin ribbon, Felt, Neoprene,
MDF and Aluminium sheet. I tried a standard ceramic tile but it needs more
time for the glue to adhere to the tile, didnt finish testing but i think it could work.
Continual daily washing of all test prints and no visible deterioration, no peeling
or cracking and still stretches well. After the first wash the print softened even
a little bit more. So far no wash issues at all.
The RIP and Artwork Output:
All images must be output via the RIP program.
The RIP works as it should and it gives you the ability to control the % amount of
ink the printer is actually laying down. This enables you to also determine how
heavy you want the white underbase. On dark garments i printed some with
200% White underbase, but had good results laying down less and producing
a softer feel to the print. On light coloured garments i would pull
the white back to a 40% coverage depending on the actual design if its not
needed to produce a softer feel to the print. Some images on White or very Light
colours i wouldnt print any white underbase at all.
Some issues i come across with the RIP are it will knock out certain parts and
colours of the image ie not print white over the top, this means the artwork has
to be re edited to fix the where the problem lies and try again. Im still trialing
different settings in the RIP and will hopefully find a fix to this problem.
Your artwork needs to be clean ie any small spots of colour, the edges of text
to be smooth and without “noise” or it will pixelate badly and lay down white ink.
Low res jpegs would not print very well at all.
Some file formats supported dont print as they should and i found the RIP would lay
down a White underbase on the whole page, which is not what you want.
The PET film seems to feed and load easily, a ramp or tray needs to be setup to allow
the film to output straight and flat. I also found that a good sized 10-15 cm “tail” on
the film avoided smudged prints near the end of the print due to the forward pinch
rollers being removed and the film not tracking right. Using A3+ size sheets 483 long
or roll film will fix this problem.
The L1800 DTF Printer:
No one can question the amazing print quality of an L1800 but its biggest problem
is its SPEED, its a slow printer and the DTF process makes it even more so.
I only ever print Hi resolution A3+ files, usually 300 dpi or 200 dpi minimum.
A3 image, avg 60-70% coverage printing full white underbase via the RIP
is 14-16 minute print time. Thats only 4 prints per hour. That is not up to
viable production speed requirements for most jobs. Small runs for
5 – 10 would be ok or for small pocket sized prints with 8 or 10 to a page
it would be ok. But for large quantity T-Shirt jobs the L1800 is not the
right printer for the job. ( The P600 is, more about this later)
The other potential issue is it really needs to be run daily, i was printing
daily while testing but i found always the first print or two the white ink
was not printing, the colours were always fine, just the white. With either
a quick head clean or printing a test page it would come good again.
I cant say how it would be after a few days of NO printing ?
The DTF inks are a latex type ink and do air dry fairly quickly so its hard
to say how much they might block up with no use ?
My 1800 has No ink stirring system, it dont need one in the tank, ( Ive seen
the printer setups with them) the problem wont be the inks in the tanks, its the ink
in the printheads and no stirrer can fix that issue ! Only constant use will avoid
this being a problem. Time will tell.
So far i really like what i see, as an ex screenprinter, Im pretty impressed.
Its DTG style printing but with superior print quality over a DTG or a White
Toner printer. Softer feel than both DTG or HTV and with good stretch and
flexibility. Price wise its one sixth or more less than the price of a DTG
printer or a Large format solvent printer, no pre treatment needed and no
cutting or weeding required either. DTG will die, DTF is here to stay.
It has huge potential in its ability for a large range of substrates and applications.
It wouldnt replace my dye sub setup. Its an addition to the fleet and products.
Get one if you have always wanted to print on Black Cotton or over the limitations
that Dye Sub has, this is what everyone has been wanting for years. A reliable
quality cost effective solution for full colour on dark cotton. Dont get one if its
gonna sit and not get used. Im 99% sure printhead blockages and the ability to
fix it could be a big problem with the white, again time will tell.
If your looking at doing large runs, big prints the L1800 is a great printer but its
not the right printer to use for large production style DTF.
The Epson SC P600 is. Its 4-5 times faster than a L1800, same print quality.
Unfortunately there is none available and New models are due for release early
2021. We will be ordering and testing one as soon as we can get our hands on one.
After testing and using my setup and knowing it works, i do have them available for sale.
My systems consist of a standard converted L1800. No it has no ink stirring
or pump system, nor does it have an LCD screen, (no use for one, cant use it
as everything prints via the rip from your computer anyways.) Inks, Roll of film,
Powder and RIP software. All sent in one easy package.
Current time on orders would be 3-4 days conversion, 8-10 days shipping via TNT.
Our DTF Packages, prices and everything you need to get started in the link below.
All printer sales are backed with our comprehensive after sales support and help.
With over 30 years printing experience, Buy a printer from a printer.
Any questions feel free to contact me via messenger.