No, DTF (Direct-to-Film) ink and sublimation ink are not the same.
Sublimation printing uses a unique process that is different from DTG and DTF. Instead of liquid ink being printed onto fabric or film, a solid ink substance transitions from a solid state directly to a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The image is printed onto transfer paper and then transferred to the fabric.
Sublimation printers don’t print white ink so you’ll still be limited to light and white t-shirts when printing DTF transfers with a sublimation printer. As you can see putting a DTF transfer printed on a sublimation printer on a dark shirt doesn’t work.
The image will survive longer if higher-quality ink is used in either printing technique. A sublimation-printed image might persist longer than a DTF image printed with inferior ink if the correct ink is used.
While both DTF and sublimation printing can be carried out on a variety of fabrics and surfaces, some are better suited for each method. DTF printing is best suited to natural fabrics like cotton, canvas, and linen, while sublimation is best suited for synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon.
Product with hard surfaces such as plastics, metals, ceramics, and wood can be printed using either method.
DTF and sublimation printing are forms of digital printing, they use different types of ink and printing processes to achieve their results.