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Heat Transfer FAQ

Learn All About Heat Transfer Printing, Printers That Work Best, How to Apply Transfers With a Heat Press Machine & More!

  1. How do you apply an image onto basically any product you want?
  2. What is the purpose of a heat press?
  3. What items can be heat pressed?
  4. What is a transfer made up of?
  5. What transfers should I use?
  6. About Ink-Jet Transfers.
  7. About Color Copier Transfers.
  8. About Supplier Transfers.
  9. For ink jet transfer printing what type of inks should I use in my ink-jet printer that will give me the best washability?
  10. Miscellaneous.

How do you apply an image onto basically any product you want?

Whether it is to be one color or full color, it needs to last ...and it has to be real fast. You don't want to deal with messy inks, and can't afford to set up screens, and you only need ONE printed, or possibly bulk quantities, ...or somewhere in between. And it has to be profitable. The answer is simple and has become the standard for quick, high definition, high quality, low cost imprinting of a vast range of materials.

The solution is Heat Transfer Press Technology
Our manufacturers are the premier manufacturers and suppliers of heat transfer press machines. We specialize in both commercial grade manual heat transfer presses as well as industrial large format automatic equipment.

We accommodate our customers with exactly the machinery they need to transfer press graphics and other embellishments onto a wide variety of materials. We manufacture according to the highest industry standards.

We provide reliable products that are workhorses that stand up to the demands of imprinting businesses, manufacturing and personal use.

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What is the purpose of a heat press?
A heat press is the machine that presses a transfer onto an imprintable substrate. Using high temperatures and heavy pressures for a certain amount of time, the transfer is permanently embedded into the product.

Heat presses are recommended for professional and satisfying results simply because standard laminating devices and home hand irons can not get even near the temperatures required for a reliable transfer. Standard transfers require anywhere from 375° to 425° F demand serious force in pressing often from 40-80 psi. These temperatures and pressures are simply not possible with other heated devices.

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What items can be heat pressed?

The following are some of the far more common items often heat pressed. The list by no means ends here.

T-Shirts, Caps, Ceramic Plates, Ceramic Tiles, Mugs, Mouse Pads, Paper Memo Cubes, Tote Bags, Jigsaw Puzzles, Lettering, Numbers, Rhinestones/Crystals, Wood / Metals Other Misc. Fabrics & Materials

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What is a transfer made up of?

A transfer is made up of a carrier paper and inks. When heated to a certain temperature and pressed with a significant amount of pressure for a certain amount of time, the transfer inks are passed over to the imprintable material. Some inks are adhered and embedded to the surface of the material, while others (namely, sublimation) permeate the coating of the material.

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What transfers should I use?

Transfers can be heat pressed onto fabrics (both natural and synthetic) using standard plastisol (preprinted) supplier transfers, color copier or ink-jet transfer paper. Heat transfers can be printed onto mugs, plates, tiles, mouse pads, ceramics, metals, glass and wood. For substrates that are hard surface requires, sublimation type transfers. When printing shirts, mouse pads or almost any light color fabric material you would typically print with ink-jet, color copier/laser transfers or plastisol heat transfers. The important factor when heat pressing with sublimation transfers onto non-natural fabric substrates is to be sure the material has the proper polyester synthetic coating, as well as a UV coating if protection from the sun and other rays is an issue. For this reason it is best to get the materials pre-coated from a supplier.

The three most common types of image transfers produced are With a Ink Jet Printer, Laser Printer and Color Laser Copier. , and what we refer to as "Supplier" transfers (either screen printed onto carrier paper or printed via off-set press with transfer inks). Computer transfers have become very popular over the past few years because of high quality printers, excellent transfer papers, durable inks and low cost hardware. The most common computer generated transfers are: Ink Jet, Laser and Color Laser Copier.

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About Ink-Jet Transfers.

For those who want to print their own transfers the most common type of transfers produced is with a ink jet printer. This is good for white or light color fabric items such as shirts, mouse pads, etc. The second is sublimation ink-jet printing. With the first type, the ink-jet "T-Shirt transfer paper" is passed through the ink-jet printer and then placed onto a fabric-based item and heat pressed. Our "TransferJet" papers will work with almost all ink jet printers but not with laser printers. Ink-jet transfers are semi- translucent, so the fabric color will show through the design. This is why it is recommended to only use light colored garments or fabrics with these transfers (as well as thermal wax & color copier transfers mentioned below). You can print dark garments with ink-jet printers and color copiers when you use a appliqué material. This appliqué material is placed under the transfer sheet. The second type of ink-jet transfers produced are sublimation. Sublimation inks are printed onto special paper (transfers). The inks turn into a gas when under temperature and pressure for a period of time. They are currently only available for certain Epson ink-jet printers (ie: Epson C82, 1280, 3000, etc.) They have however proven to be one of the highest quality methods of making custom sublimation transfers with near off-set quality and strength. Keep in mind that the sublimation inks can be expensive and it only works with polyester fabrics such as mouse pads or coated polyester surfaces (ie: ceramic mugs with the polyester coating).

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About Color Copier Transfers

Color copier transfers are produced using a special color copier transfer paper. After copying the image onto the paper, it is simply heat pressed to the material. This medium is successful for fabric based items. You can print dark garments with color copiers when you use a appliqué material. This appliqué material is placed under the transfer sheet.

For printing onto paper cubes there is a special paper available for these items so the image does not scrap off easily and the paper cube sheets can be fanned (not stuck to one another) after heat pressing with a cube press.

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About Supplier Transfers
Supplier transfers are those that are pre-printed by a transfer supplier either by screening or offset press in designs shown by catalog or made by special order. The plastisol / hot-peel transfers from these companies are generally opaque, and therefore good for heat transferring onto dark or light garments items.

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For ink jet transfer printing what type of inks should I use in my ink-jet printer that will give me the best washability?

We believe by providing the following information, we will enable our commercial customers to obtain the best results from our Heat Transfer Paper. Please read carefully.

Ink jet printers have different technology than most printers. The following is a simple explanation of a few inherent properties of Ink jet printers that will affect your ink jet transfers.

There are two types of ink jet printers:

  1. Piezo type printers- (i.e.: Epson© printers, etc.)
  2. Bubble Type printers (Canon BubbleJet © printers, Hewlett Packard © printers, Lexmark © printers, Xerox © printers)

Bubble type printers use water-soluble dye based inks that are difficult to make permanently washable.

The Piezo type printers can use specialized inks as well as water-soluble dye based inks. When the Piezo type printer is paired with the specialized inks it can produce permanently washable transfers.

The commercial market will produce optimal transfers by using an ink jet transfer paper with a Piezo type printer that contains specialized inks (ie: Pigment inks).

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Other types of transfers include embroidered appliqués, die cut lettering, and flock transfers. Embroidered appliqués usually come as an embroidered patch with heat activated adhesive on the underside. Die cut lettering is a vinyl or other type of material that is precut in various numbers, letters, and custom shapes. The user lays the letters & numbers down on the garment and heat presses them. This is commonly how sports apparel is imprinted with names & numbers.

The three main ingredients in heat transfer printing images onto various materials are the Heat Press, the Transfer and the substrate to be printed. Heat press information can be found from the links at our home page.

Ink jet or Dye-Sublimation printers will produce pretty much everything needed for an expansive custom imprinted product line. Many bubble-jet and ink-jet color printers accept T-shirt transfer paper (good for any fabric-based item) but can not produce dye-sublimation transfers unless utilizing the sublimation inks mentioned earlier. Remember that non-porous (ie: hard surface items like mugs, etc) items need to have the synthetic polyester based coating on them in order to accept the sublimation dyes, unless the material is already synthetic such as the white polyester top on our mouse pads as well as 100% ployester white or light colored fabrics (ie: Soft L'ink & Vapor Apparel) shirts).

The only other consideration is whether your product can be printed with a typical flat heat press or requires a specially shaped platen or base. Some products are simply not conducive to heat transfer printing due to their exceptionally odd shape. Again, feel free to contact us with any questions or requests for special projects. We would be pleased to provide a solution.

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