Monday, February 25, 2013

Expand Your Product Line with Heat Transfers

If you are looking to offer your customer printed apparel and don’t want the mess and fuss of screenprinting, heat transfers are a quick an cost effective way to get into the market. You don’t have to worry about going through the different processes of preparing screens and worrying about the different inks that go into screen printing – you just need your garment, a heat press and your design on transfer paper.

No more waiting for inks to dry or stressing about gaps in the emulsion that leave unsightly marks on your garment or tote bag.

Why Heat Press Printing?

1.    It is easy to print on demand

If your customers are the type to request 2 or 3 shirts of a particular design over an extended period of time, having a heat press and heat transfer paper means that you can stock your customer’s design for up to two years and reproduce the design for them anytime in under a minute. This is especially useful for events and trade shows where you have no guarantee of selling every shirt you print. It makes a lot more sense to keep blanks on hand and just print what you need.

2.    It’s easy to combine different designs on one garment

When you do screen printing or direct to garment printing, you have to dry your garment before starting another design on the same garment. With a heat press, it’s a matter of heat pressing the design onto the fabric, peeling off the transfer paper and then repeating the steps for the next design for the next part of the garment. No more waiting for ink to gel or having trouble with lining up the different screens for a multiple-color design. All you need is your design on heat transfer paper and you’re good to go!

3.    Saving on gang sheets

You can print more than one design on a gang sheet which saves you both time and money. You can print on gang sheets when: printing more than one design of the same color, printing multiples of the same image, printing multiples of the same image but in different sizes. Printing on gang sheets means that you can simply cut out the design that you want to transfer using heat press and keep the other unused designs in stock without wasting the release paper.

Heat press printing is fast, reliable and relatively inexpensive in terms of labor and material cost.

Your initial investment

Before you embark on your heat transfer printing business, you will need to invest in these key pieces of machinery and materials:
  • Heat Press 
  • Plastisol Heat Transfer Paper (with your design screen printed)
People often wonder if investing in an actual heat press is really necessary. While it’s true that this is one of the most expensive investments that you will need to make, using a regular iron just isn’t an option. Using a hand iron won’t give you the amount of heat (around 300 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressure that a heat press machine will give you. You might end up with half-baked output that won’t do you any favors if you want to create a good name in the business and build up your repeat clients list.

If you don’t have the time or inclination for to screen print your own transfers, then you can send in your designs and simply have them deliver it to you on the transfer paper. Good quality transfer papers can last up to two years so if you anticipate having to repeat a particular design, you can order a lot so you have some on hand at all times.

Transferring your design from paper to shirt

  • It is best to start out with a 16x20 heat press.  
  • The heat press emits heat of about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • The whole heat transfer takes about 6-15 seconds depending on the machine and design.
It might be a good idea to start with a 16x20 heat press just because it allows for the pressing of larger designs. Smaller presses like the 15x15 are standard for first-timers but this might limit the sizes of the designs your business can produce.  When transferring your design onto a garment, the heat press is heated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit or more – be careful when handling the equipment to avoid burns and other accidents.

The whole heat press process takes about 15-30 seconds depending on how long it takes you to load a T-shirt or other garment onto the press and place your design on top of it. The heat press itself works very fast – it takes about 6-8 seconds per design with a buzzer going off when the design is finished.

Investing in a heat press can be a great way to boost your income, especially if you already have the materials and know-how for screen printing. You can prepare your designs in advance and have them on hand for orders. Some screen printers also have a difficult time distinguishing between direct-to-garment screen printing and heat press output, which tells you a lot about the quality of the heat press products.

Heat press printing is also great for irregularly-shaped items like baseball caps – it is much easier to do a heat transfer.

Heat presses also don’t take up much space so if you’re planning to work from home, it’s pretty easy to find a place for it compared to the equipment used in screen printing or digital printing. If you’re just starting out with selling printed apparel, heat press is a great technique to learn and will probably earn you the most for your initial investment.


  1. It's an informative post on Heat press printing..

  2. I never knew how important heat press printing could have been for a company. Thank you for yet another informative post. I will be trying this out as well as others for my company in the near future and I will be sure to give you my results!

  3. Heat pressing sounds like a good option if you want a cheaper product maybe? I know that some think that embroidery is just too much so this may be an option for those that do not want to spend as much.