How Does Heat Transfer Printing Work?

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Heat transfer can be done in several ways, such as digital applique transfers, inkjet transfers, vinyl transfers, and dye-sublimation transfers, etc. But we will focus on the commercial heat transfer for now.

Gather Your Supplies: You need to have everything you are going to need at hand to begin the process.

Make Your Design: You can use graphic design software to mock up your design on your computer. Remember to take the heat transfer ink colour and size into consideration.

Print the Design: Print your custom design or your brand’s logo onto special heat transfer paper with the help of sublimation ink, inkjet ink, or pigment ink based on your product and application.

Cut Out the Design: Here you will need a vinyl cutter to trim your image. This is only needed for supplier, store-bought and printed transfers.

Warm Up Your Heat Press: To warm the heat-press, open it up and separate the heat platen from the heat pad and let it be while the heat platen warms up. For the majority of heat transfer applications, the temperature is set somewhere between 350 and 375 °F.

Adjust the Pressure: The pressure is decided depending on the fabric’s thickness as the thicker fabric needs less pressure. In most cases, medium or high pressure is required.

Set the Time: Pay extra attention to this step because the time changes with different types of heat transfer. Set the time according to the method:

Digital Applique Transfer: 20 to 30 seconds

Inkjet Transfer Paper: 14 to 18 seconds

Vinyl Transfer: 45 to 60 seconds

Dye Sublimation Transfer: 25 to 30 seconds

Set the Substrate and Transfer in Place: Place your product on the plate and the transfer paper face up wherever you want on your product in the pressing area. However, you will have to cover the heat transfer paper using a thin cloth, to protect it, for applique transfer and vinyl transfer.

Press Your Product: Once you have your product in place, close the press by pushing the handle downwards to shut the press. At this point, your pressure, time, and temperature should be set, so it should be just as easy as pressing the start button.

Remove the Film: As soon as the timer goes off simply, open up the press and take off the film while the heat transfer paper is still hot. You will see your design printed on your product. And just like that, your heat pressed custom garment will be done.


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Shenzhen Harmony Print Pack Co., Ltd. focuses on the continuous exploitation of printing and packaging industries. Our production line ranges from heat transfer products, color printing products, paper packaging products, plastic packaging products and so on. If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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