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Keypoint Intelligence's Industry Experts Provide Insight and Guidance in All Areas of Digital Garment and Textile Printing


Article: Images Magazine - April 2024

David Sweetnam, director of lab services at Keypoint Intelligence, explains how he tests DTF printers, how the results benefit garment decorators, and how you can help guide the research.

Every trade show is currently awash with DTF (direct-to-film) devices, from baby desktop devices costing under £10K to 1.6m carriage juggernauts with integrated powder/curing units that can take up half a print shop.

Until now it has been impossible to get a true gauge of how they perform relative to each other: there are no ISO performance standards to reference, no standard test files to use for ink use or quality comparisons, and washability tests that have never seen a washing machine or tumble dryer!

For more than 60 years, Keypoint Intelligence has built a globally respected reputation for delivering independent, trusted testing programmes across a range of digital imaging equipment categories, and in 2023, we launched our DTF test programme.

The test set-up

■ Pre-planning is essential
Tests are conducted at the manufacturer’s facility over a two-day period. Vendors are provided with the test files and sample T-shirts (Next Level 3600 white and black 100% cotton) so they can establish optimal performance conditions.

■ Consistency in print settings demanded
Tests are conducted in both production and highest quality modes to demonstrate a device’s performance in both a typical day-to-day operation mode and when at its absolute best. The vendor selects the settings for these two modes.

Importantly, the same settings are consistently applied (when assessing the mode) across all four key criteria: productivity, image quality, ink consumption, and washability. Too often we see messaging around productivity, image quality, and cost of print (ink use) that is impressive individually, but you know it is not based on the device printing in the same mode. This inconsistency can leave readers to guess the true relationship between mode and performance soundbite.