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6 Myths Debunked: Uncovering the Truth About Heat Transfers

Here are some practical solutions for using heat transfers effectively.




WITH THE EXCITING advancements in the heat-transfer industry, some outdated myths have resurfaced, and new ones have emerged. In this article, I’ll debunk these misconceptions and provide practical solutions for using heat transfers effectively.

There’s been a flood of demand, pushing our industry to evolve and innovate. More options solve nearly every decoration challenge, yet despite this age of heat transfer “enlightenment,” several myths persist about the reliability, quality, and versatility of heat transfers.

Heat transfers are as reliable and high-quality as traditional, direct-to-garment decoration methods but with a bonus. They can help you maximize your profits, expand your offerings, reduce waste, and increase your production efficiency. Let’s dive in and uncover the truth behind these common misconceptions.

6 Myths Debunked: Uncovering the Truth About Heat Transfers

Myth 1: All Transfers Will Crack or Peel

Sure, heat transfers from the 1980s weren’t the greatest. But heat-transfer and heat-press technology have come a long way. Finding a high-quality manufacturer is critical, but even perfectly printed transfers can crack if applied incorrectly. The first step is to review the application instructions to confirm the correct time, temperature, and pressure settings. Next, check your press to ensure you are getting the right heat and pressure.

Contrary to what you may have heard, high-quality transfers can match, if not exceed, the durability of other decoration methods like screen printing. Many heat-transfer printing processes even use the same inks and simply are more convenient for you.

Myth 2: You Can Only Apply on White Polyester

Nope! You can decorate nearly anything. Dark-colored garments are a breeze to decorate with heat transfers, and there’s no pre-treating or flashing white required!

Heat transfers are incredibly versatile. From cotton to polyester, denim to neoprene, jute and even nylon … you name it, you probably can transfer onto it. Can you get the object onto a press? Well then, you can decorate it! Bags, shoes, can coolers, umbrellas, pillows, towels … the list goes on.

Different fabrics have different needs. Does your fabric have a special coating? Is it heat-sensitive? Does it stretch? Understanding fabrics enables you to choose a heat-transfer style with the right temperature and adhesive for a successful press. For example, poly blends might require lower temperatures to avoid scorching.

6 Myths Debunked: Uncovering the Truth About Heat Transfers

By incorporating heat transfers into your workflow, you can streamline your operations, reduce production time, and increase your output.

Myth 3: Dye-Sublimated Garments? They’ll Just Scorch and Bleed

Dye-sublimated garments notoriously are difficult to decorate. Picture this: You are set to decorate an unassuming red jersey and end up with a white print turned pink. With the right transfer, you confidently can take your decoration game from amateur to pro.

Choose a heat transfer product that includes a blocker. These carbon-based specialty inks are printed behind your design, guarding it from the dye in the fabric. In a pinch? A metallic flake-based ink can be a good substitute if carbon-based inks are not available.

I prefer silicone transfers as they block dye without added layers and have a luxury, high-end feel. The best part of all? These transfers are designed to apply at lower temperatures, so you never have to worry about scorching your garments.

6 Myths Debunked: Uncovering the Truth About Heat Transfers

Application and equipment are key to getting a perfect press. The formula seen here is Multidimensional Puff, which gives the print a raised texture.

Myth 4: You Need Expensive Equipment to Be Successful

I have seen this myth deter folks from using heat transfers one too many times. High-cost, top-of-the-line machinery can be a real barrier to entry and really isn’t a requirement for achieving high-quality results. Just get started! There is no shame in buying used or off-brand equipment, especially if you are new to the game.

Buy what you can afford, and after your first successful project or two, reinvest in yourself. You’ll not only save on costs, but you’ll teach yourself valuable lessons while troubleshooting through those earliest jobs.

Here are some tips I’ve picked up throughout the years: Your equipment should be multi-functional. A hat press isn’t just for hats. Use it to decorate can coolers, bags, and smaller garment locations like wrists, sleeves, and back necks. My personal favorite? Use it to apply neck labels on your garment. This is a quick and easy way to elevate the perceived value of your garment, which empowers you to increase your prices and your profits.

Also, pressing pillows and heat pads can be great tools to use when applying a transfer near seams or in an awkward spot on the item where you can’t get even pressure. But these can get costly, and sometimes, aren’t the right size. Have an old mousepad lying around in the office? A mousepad can be the perfect replacement for a pressing pillow. Plus, they can be cut to fit any shape you need. We love a good upcycle!

And stop hating the manual press — it’s a free workout! Manual presses are affordable, reliable alternatives to automatic presses. They require a bit more effort, and ensuring you have the correct pressure is critical. But once you’ve learned how to adjust your machine correctly, you will have a reliable workhorse. It may lack the bells and whistles of an automatic press, but it gets the job done.

Myth 5: All Transfers are DTF

Direct-to-film (DTF) technology has disrupted our industry, but it’s not the only player in the game. Screen-printed transfers are tried and true, offering excellent durability and vibrant colors. While DTF is exciting and has its benefits, it’s still relatively new. The industry is still getting its arms around quality, reliable equipment and supplies, and mastering artwork techniques to achieve dependable results at scale.

By its very nature, digitally printed transfers can’t reproduce colors such as neons and fluorescents. These exclusively are achieved by mixing pigments in ink. Plus, there are more specialty screen-printed options that DTF can’t achieve yet like puff, high-density glitter, reflective, and more.

6 Myths Debunked: Uncovering the Truth About Heat Transfers

Transfers help streamline your workflow so you can tackle any job, big or small. Whether you’re outfitting a local sports team or fulfilling a bulk order for a corporate event, they’re the solution for any project that requires personalization.

Myth 6: Use Heat Transfers Only for Small Orders

The flexibility of heat transfers goes beyond fabric types, application locations, and formula types. They can be used for both small and large orders. Whether you’re outfitting a local sports team or fulfilling a bulk order for a corporate event, heat transfers are the solution for any project that requires personalization. You can decorate every uniform with a different name and number without additional setups. And because you can use the same transfer for multiple applications, you can use the team’s logo for the front of the uniform, the team’s travel bag, the coach’s jacket, the mom’s fan tee, and so much more. The transfer’s quick application and reusability means you can process high-volume orders efficiently, keeping your customers happy and your production line moving smoothly.

In a world that’s continuously aligning itself with a print-on-demand model, it may make more sense to store heat transfers and decorate your garments as they are ordered. When stored in a climate-controlled area, transfers can last for years.

What if you could stop worrying about having enough of a certain size of garment, or figuring out what to do with excess inventory? With transfers, you can offer more designs and options to your customers and never worry about not having just the right amount.

Unlike direct screen printing, which requires the setup of individual screens for each color in the design, plastisol transfers can be mass-produced in advance and applied to garments as needed. From small projects to high-volume orders, heat transfers give you the flexibility to meet your customer needs with faster turnaround times and reduced setup costs.

Efficient production translates directly to higher profits. By incorporating heat transfers into your workflow, you can streamline your operations, reduce production time, and increase your output. The result? Happier customers, more orders, and a healthier bottom line.




Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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