Roland DGA

D2 vs. Heat Transfer Film Printing

Lily Hunter currently serves as product manager, textiles and consumables for Irvine, California-based Roland DGA, where she manages Roland’s dye-sublimation wide-format printer portfolio, as well as the company’s media product line. Prior to joining Roland DGA in 2013, Hunter held various sales support and product management positions over a 14-year period with Arlon Graphics. She can be reached by email at, or by phone at 1-800-542-2307. 

If you're looking to expand your shop's capabilities and you can't quite decide which route to go, let's take a look at two great options. For comparison purposes, here’s a chart that shows the differences between two different print technologies for apparel decorating:

D2 printing versus using heat transfer film printed on print/cut devices:

D2 Printer

Print/Cut Printer

  • Good for light and dark cotton T-shirts
  • Good for light and dark cotton T-shirts
  • Good for some polyester T-shirts
  • Good for polyester T-shirts and other types of materials; i.e. spandex and leather, depending on the film used
  • Different platens needed to print sleeves, youth garments and hats
  • No special platen needed
  • May need pre-treatment
  • No pre-treatment needed
  • Heat press is needed to set the inks onto fabric
  • Heat press is needed to activate the heat transfer film
  • Soft hand
  • Depending on film thickness, there may be a “plastic” feel on the fabric
  • Good for short runs
  • Good for short runs
  • Good for photographic images
  • Good for photographic images
  • Single platen units print one shirt at a time
  • Able to print multiple images across width of media
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance schedule, that can include flushing out ink system periodically (white ink set-up)
  • Minimal regular maintenance (usually monthly) with no ink flushing or purging requirements
  • Able to print directly on other blanks; i.e. wood, canvas, and hats
  • Able to print on other print media; i.e. banners, canvas, paper, vinyl decals, wall graphics