Direct-to-film prints can now come with added shine thanks to the introduction of powderless machines, as Colin Marsh of Resolute DTG explains

In last month’s Digital Helpdesk column, Colin Marsh, the managing director of Resolute DTG, revealed that powderless direct-to-film (DTF) printers allow the addition of hot foil to prints, something previously not possible with the ‘regular’ DTF process that incorporates a separate powder application step.

“With powderless DTF spreading across the globe at the same rate powdered DTF did, the DTF process is getting more and more refined,” says Colin. “Powderless DTF has picked up a few features along the way that make it even more unique than it was just 18 months ago.

“Powderless DTF uses a dedicated print head to jet a water-based adhesive, normally onto the back of the white ink. The team at Resolute very quickly learned that if you print just adhesive with no ink, as it heats up and reactivates under the heat press it becomes a perfect way to apply hot foil.”

These are available in various metallic colours and finishes, with some manufacturers producing fluorescent spot colours. The hot foil will not stick to the DTF ink, and fine detail and solid areas can be decorated with no problem, he adds.

This step-by-step shows how to apply a normal DTF transfer then the hot foil using the Resolute R-Jet Pro DTF NP. Selecting certain areas as a designated spot colour in your designs will allow for just the adhesive to be printed at the same time as the rest of the coloured image is produced.

“This unique way of applying metallics and fluorescent spot colours to garments is not only economical, it saves a lot of time that would normally be wasted with cutting and weeding,” he says.

It’s worth noting that this process might differ slightly between powderless DTF systems; you should perform your own testing before attempting a production run to find the optimum times and temperatures.

Colin concludes: “Gone are the days of cutting and weeding to get gold and silver onto a shirt; combining it with a colour image has never been easier.”


(1) Open your vector artwork in Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw; make sure to ungroup objects from each other to avoid printing adhesive where it is not wanted.

(2) Next, select the areas in the vector file you want to print only the adhesive and fill them with a spot colour called ‘NOWHITE’.

(3) Now save your modified file as a press-ready PDF or EPS file with a transparent background.

(4) Import your image into the Resolute RIP Software, make any changes in size and create duplicates if required.

(5) Now print your image to the powderless DTF printer. The image here is of only the adhesive, which shows as a transparent gloss.

(6) Press your printed transfer onto the garment in the normal way and remove the backing film.

(7) Place your T-shirt back on the heat press and place your hot foil over the image. Press for a further 20 seconds with a sheet of silicone paper over the foil to protect it.

(8) Remove from the heat press and allow to cool. Peel away the hot foil sheet. The areas that were selected as ‘NOWHITE’, such as the teeth, will now be metallic.

(9) A second press of just five seconds with silicone paper will ensure everything is in place and will stay there.