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Cutting Costs: 10 Ways to Save DTF Ink Without Sacrificing Quality

How to save DTF inks for DTF printing

DTF printing is a highly cost-effective digital printing method for garment decoration. However, the cost of supplies, especially DTF inks, can be a significant portion of daily operational expenses. Finding efficient ways to save on costs not only reduces business management risk but also gives you a competitive edge with more attractive prices. In this post, we’ll share 10 ways to save DTF ink without compromising print quality. We hope you enjoy the content, and if you find it helpful, please share it to help others.

1. Use High-Quality DTF Film

High-quality DTF film has better ink absorption and retention properties, which means it can hold onto the ink more effectively than lower-quality films (Explore our comprehensive guide on DTF film for expert tips on choosing the right DTF film for your needs. ). This results in sharper, more vibrant prints with less ink spreading or bleeding. Consequently, you can achieve the desired print quality with less ink, as the film efficiently utilizes every drop of ink applied. However, over-reliance on the film’s quality without adjusting other parameters, might not yield significant ink savings if other aspects of the printing process are not optimized.

DTF STATION Hot & Cold Peel DTF Film
DTF STATION Hot & Cold Peel DTF Film

2. Use Quality Inks

Though using quality inks may initially seem more expensive, it is a wise choice and, in the long term, a more cost-effective option for business owners. Invest in high-quality DTF inks that are known for their high pigment concentration and viscosity. These inks provide better coverage and require less volume to achieve vibrant colors, leading to lower overall ink usage.

Using cheaper, lower-quality inks may seem like an attractive idea for short-term savings, but they often require more ink to achieve the same color density and can lead to long-term problems such as color fading and inconsistencies. That’s why DTF Station uses Korean inks, which are generally more expensive than those from other countries but ensure better quality and durability in your prints.

3. Choose Fonts Wisely

The choice of font can significantly affect ink usage, especially for text-heavy designs. Thinner, more streamlined fonts use less ink than bold or heavy fonts. Additionally, some fonts are designed to be more ink-efficient, often referred to as eco-friendly fonts. By using eco-friendly fonts, you can maintain readability and design aesthetics while reducing ink consumption. However, if the font choice compromises the design’s integrity or legibility, you might need to take a second thought as it may not serve the project’s goals effectively.

Use Eco-friendly Fonts to Save DTF Ink

4. Use Grayscale Desings

Grayscale printing in digital printing involves printing images using varying shades of gray, ranging from white to black, instead of a full spectrum of colors. This method uses only one color of ink, typically black, and creates different tones and shades by adjusting the density and distribution of the ink on the material. It is particularly effective for designs that don’t require full color.

Grayscale Design Example
Grayscale Design Example

While grayscale printing can lead to significant ink savings for projects where color is not essential, and it can produce high-quality prints with nuanced shades of gray, relying too heavily on grayscale for designs that require color may diminish the appeal and effectiveness of the print.

5. Optimize Your Artwork

Compared to text-heavy designs, graphic designs typically consume much more DTF ink. However, with proper optimization of your design files, you can save a significant amount on graphic printing. Here are three best practices to follow:

  • Use vector graphics where possible as they are more ink-efficient than raster images.
  • Avoid using dark backgrounds or large areas of solid colors that consume a lot of ink. Instead, opt for lighter backgrounds or gradients.
  • Utilize color management tools to ensure colors are accurately represented with minimal ink usage.

While these tips can help you save ink, it’s important to strike a balance that minimizes ink usage while maintaining detail and color accuracy. Ensure your prints remain professional, with vibrant colors and sharp details, by using ink efficiently. Over-optimization may result in faded-looking artwork or a lack of depth if too much detail or color saturation is removed in an effort to save ink. This can compromise the visual impact of your print.

6. RIP Software Settings

In addition to optimizing artwork, different software programs offer options for reducing ink usage in designs. Here’s a quick guide to help you locate these settings in popular software such as Cadlink and their specialized software DigiRip, designed specifically for DTF Station printing solutions:

Cadlink Digital Factory v11: For models like Prestige A3+, A3+ R, L2, and XL2, navigate to the ink limit settings and reduce the overall ink saturation levels. This software also allows for the adjustment of dot size, which can help in reducing ink usage without compromising on quality.

DigiRIP: Access the ink configuration settings and experiment with reducing the ink limit. The software should also provide options for fine-tuning the dot gain or size, which can help in using less ink per print. You might start by reducing each color’s ink limit by 5-10%. Pay special attention to areas of heavy color saturation in your test prints, as these are most affected by ink limit adjustments.

Reduce Ink Limite to Save DTF Ink

Adjusting ink limits and dot size in these settings can greatly reduce ink usage while maintaining color vibrancy and detail. However, it’s essential to follow these tips:

  • Test and Refine: It’s important to print test patterns specifically designed for evaluating ink limits. These patterns will help you see how reductions affect overall color saturation and detail. Adjust incrementally and test until you find the optimal setting.
  • Understand Your Media: Different DTF films and powders may react differently to ink. Adjust ink limits based on the specific media you’re using.
  • Consider Environmental Factors: Humidity and temperature can affect how ink settles on the film. You might need to adjust ink limits seasonally or based on your workspace conditions.
  • Documentation and Support: Refer to the software’s manual or online support for specific guidance related to your printer model. There might be model-specific recommendations for ink limit adjustments.

7. Print Modes

Many DTF printers offer different print modes that balance speed and quality. Choosing a slightly faster mode can help reduce ink usage by applying it more sparingly, which may still be suitable for a wide range of print applications. For instance, using a “draft” or “standard” mode will consume less ink than a “high quality” mode, slightly lowering ink use without a substantial loss of quality.

However, be mindful of choosing print modes that are too fast. Prints produced in extremely fast modes might exhibit noticeable quality issues such as banding, reduced color saturation, and loss of fine details. Therefore, it’s essential to find a balance between speed and quality to achieve efficient ink usage while maintaining good print results.

8. Regular Maintenance

Waste ink can account for a significant portion (about 10% to 20%) of overall ink costs in DTF (Direct to Film) printing and other types of digital printing. The primary source of this waste is typically the ink used during nozzle cleaning. Each time the nozzles are cleaned, a considerable amount of ink is expelled and lost.

Regular maintenance can minimize unnecessary ink usage by ensuring that cleaning cycles are conducted efficiently and only when needed. Conducting regular head cleanings helps prevent clogs, which can waste ink, but it’s essential to avoid excessive automatic cleaning cycles. Instead, manually clean the printhead and capping station according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Adjusting the settings in RIP software can also help manage cleaning frequency and intensity. Many RIP software options allow for customizing maintenance routines, enabling you to strike a balance between keeping the print heads clean and minimizing ink waste.

In summary, proper and regular maintenance helps the printer operate efficiently, with minimal ink waste during maintenance cycles. This approach not only conserves ink but also maintains high print quality by keeping the printhead in optimal condition.

9. Consult the Manual/Support

Each printer model may offer unique features or settings to optimize ink usage. At DTF Station, our printers come pre-configured with several optimized ICC profile settings tailored for various printing purposes based on our testing results. If you are unsure about these settings, consulting the user manual or reaching out to support resources for your specific model can be very helpful. For example, the Hosonsoft (PrintEXP) software for models such as L2, XL2, R2, and Aries 113 may include specific recommendations or presets designed to lower ink consumption.

10. Test and Adjust

After adjusting your RIP software settings or modifying print modes, it’s advisable to run a few test prints. Compare these prints to your standard quality benchmarks to find the optimal balance between ink savings and print quality. To achieve the best results from these tests, here are some pro tips:

Conduct Comprehensive Testing: Use a standardized test print that includes gradients, full-color blocks, and intricate details to assess a wide range of performance aspects such as color accuracy, gradient smoothness, and ink saturation. Be sure to print on the same type of DTF film and powder you use for your final prints, as different media can react differently to ink and affect the appearance of your test results.

Incremental Adjustments: Make small adjustments to your settings, particularly ink limits, and print a test image after each change to isolate the effects of each adjustment. Document your changes and the corresponding results, as this record can be invaluable for understanding the impact of specific adjustments and for troubleshooting future issues.

Evaluate Under Different Conditions: Examine your test prints under different lighting conditions to understand how they appear in various environments, such as natural light and fluorescent light, which can influence perceived colors and overall print quality. Additionally, view the prints from different angles and distances, as some issues like banding or ink pooling may only be noticeable from certain perspectives.

Focus on Specific Areas: Look for signs of banding, as it may suggest that ink limits are set too low or that the print head alignment needs adjustment. If you notice banding, adjust ink limits or perform a head cleaning or alignment procedure. Check for ink bleeding beyond the intended borders, which may indicate the need to reduce ink limits or adjust curing time and temperature. Lastly, assess color fidelity by comparing the colors in your test print to the original design on your monitor. If there are significant discrepancies, consider recalibrating your monitor, adjusting color profiles in your RIP software, or tweaking ink limits for specific colors.

Utilize Software Tools: Take advantage of any advanced features in your RIP software, such as color profiling, ink limit calculators, or linearization tools. These can help optimize your printer’s output based on your specific media and inks.

Seek Feedback: If possible, get feedback from peers or colleagues on the quality of your test prints. They might notice issues or areas for improvement that you’ve overlooked.


By adopting these ten savvy strategies, you can significantly save DTF inks without sacrificing the quality of your prints. Whether it’s choosing high-quality film, optimizing your artwork, or adjusting your RIP software settings, these methods can help you create vibrant designs while keeping costs low. Start making your printing process more efficient today—give these tips a try!


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