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Understanding Heat Transfers
Just as the word transfer is used many ways in the English language, there are many types of transfer technolgies available to decorate garments and textiles. The common factor making the different technologies all transfers is they are all applied with the same type of heat machine. Screen printed transfers - generally are hot or cold peel - and can be printed in regular transfer plastisol or printed in metallic or glitter in a plastisol base. Heat Transfer Vinyl are vinyl sheets you use a plotter cutter to cut and peel away the excess from your design. Rhinestone transfers offer the wearer a little bling. Sublimation transfers work on polyester or polycoated items. And even color copies can produce a viable product. All of these technologies are called transfers or heat applied graphics and are applied using the same heat machine process. There are many different heat machines but they all do basically the same thing. Heat the garment or textile to a temperature recommended by the transfer manufacturer and press the design onto it, transferring the image from a piece of paper or backing to the item being printed.
Why would you use one transfer technology over another? In the custom world, it's all up to what your customer wants and is willing to pay for. Why would one transfer rather than direct screen print? Why would a large screen print house use screen printed transfers? Some items such as bags, hats, gloves, etc are easier to transfer than direct print. Why is it sometimes more profitable to use transfers even if the cost per print is a little more? Transfers have a shelf life so you can print your shirts as it sells, a tremondous savings in inventory. This blog will go into more detail about these questions/topics and how to profit with transfers.
Screen printed transfers will look and feel the most like direct screen printing. Often even direct screen printers cannot tell the difference. This is because screen printed transfers are printed with a special blend of plastisol ink, similar to ink a direct screen printer would use. A vast majority of our customers prefer our professionally printed transfers over direct screen printing for many reasons. The soft durable print that delivers complete coverage even on dark garments. The ease of applying transfers and their long shelf life are another reason people choose screen printed transfers over direct screen printing. People can be in the decorated apparel business with only a heat machine and a table as opposed to the 10K+ it takes to set up a screen print shop.
Historically there have been two types of screened transfers. Hot peel or Cold Peel. Hot peels generally would go on a white or light color fabric, either 50/50 or 100% cotton or polyester. Cold Peels are more like old style transfers, almost bullet or fool proof. Great for logos on bags or hats.
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