Sublimation vs DTF Printing: Which is Best for Custom UPF Shirts?

While customizing your next apparel order, it is important to be aware that we offer two distinct printing methods which have different benefits. The printing methods are known as Dye Sublimation and DTF Transfer. Both methods allow for high-quality, full-color designs to be printed onto the fabric, but each have key differences that are explained in the following sections below:
Sublimation printing involves transferring dye onto the fabric using heat and pressure. The design is printed onto special transfer paper using dye-based ink and then transferred onto the fabric using a heat press. The heat and pressure cause the ink to turn into a gas, which then permeates the fibers of the fabric, resulting in a long-lasting, vibrant print. Sublimation works best on polyester fabrics, as the dye bonds with the fibers of the fabric and becomes part of the fabric itself. This means that the print will not crack, peel or fade, and will remain vibrant for the life of the garment.
It is worth noting that when printing with dye sublimation onto a colored shirt that the color of the shirt will impact the color of the design. Because of this effect, we do not recommend placing designs with sublimation printing onto darker colored shirts. This printing method also has no capability of printing white designs, so if white is a pivotal part of your design or logo, you may want to consider DTF Transfer Printing. Our design team will do their best to visually show this on the final design proof you receive shortly after placing your order, so that you can visualize the effect.
DTF (Direct to Film) printing, on the other hand, involves printing the design onto a special film using inkjet technology and then transferring the design onto the fabric using heat and pressure. The film is coated with a special adhesive that allows it to stick to the fabric, and the heat and pressure cause the ink to transfer onto the fabric. DTF printing can be used on a wider variety of fabrics than sublimation printing, including cotton, polyester, and blends. However, the print may affect the feel and performance of the shirt since it sits on top of the fibers, and as such we do recommend keeping prints light on performance wear. Unlike other print methods like screen printing, DTF will not easily crack or fade over time.

So, which printing method is better for custom UPF shirts? It ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you want a vibrant, long-lasting print on lighter color custom UPF performance shirt, sublimation printing is the way to go. If you need to print on a wider variety of fabrics, if you need to print in white, or if you want a darker or black colored custom UPF performance shirt, DTF printing is the better choice.


 Dye Sublimation DTF Printing
✅ Recommended for lighter color shirts ✅ Recommended for darker color shirts
✅ Does not change feel or performance ✅ Can print white ink
✅ Most permanent print method ✅ More permanent and durable than other transfer methods such as screen printing
✅ Fully digital, there is no setup cost per color
✅ Fully digital, there is no setup cost per color
❌ Can't print white ink or on dark colored shirts ❌ Can be felt on shirt and may affect performance depending on size of print

 In summary, both sublimation and DTF printing are great options for customizing UPF shirts. Each method has its own unique advantages and limitations, so it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing which method to use. Whether you choose sublimation or DTF printing, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting a high-quality, full-color print that will look great on your custom UPF shirt.