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Keypoint Intelligence launches DTF test service

The market intelligence firm has detailed the latest way it is testing direct-to-film printers

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Manufacturers can book a free test and sample report via Keypoint Intelligence

Keypoint Intelligence, a consulting and market research company that specialises in digital media has given details on its work to test new direct-to-film (DTF) devices.

David Sweetnam, director of Lab Services at Keypoint, has discussed how the company has overcome the difficult challenge of testing DTF printers. 

The company launched its DTF test program in 2023 to keep up with the fast-moving sector which has produced small desktop devices to large 1.6m carriage printers.

Sweetnam says: “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!”

Tests are conducted at the manufacturer’s facility over a two-day period where vendors are provided with test files and sample T-shirts.

Sweetnam explains that tests are conducted in both production and high-quality modes to demonstrate a device’s performance in a typical day-to-day operation mode.

“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,” says Sweetnam, who adds: 

“This inconsistency can leave readers to guess the true relationship between mode and performance soundbite.”

The DTF test focuses on the areas of speed, ink consumption image quality, and washability, which sees 30ºC and 800rpm washes conducted along with a “hang-dry sensor setting” on a heat pump tumble dryer.

Each device then receives a detailed 12-page report gathering all the data for testing ahead of The Pick Awards which rewards the top-performing devices across the year.

“Over the course of 2024 we will be running a series of group tests to provide more education to this fascinating marketplace,” states Sweetnam, adding: “Each group test will investigate a different factor that can affect successful DTF production. 

“The first test starting up in Q1 looks at washing factors and how they can impact garment durability […] This group test will investigate across a selection of DTF devices. Other group tests will look at factors like garment brand, film selection, desktop film ovens, and more.”  

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