Learn More about Heat Transfers!
Heat transfer is a very broad term that includes several different processes. The only thing in common is that they all require heat to be applied to the garment! This can include several types of heat transfer – inkjet heat transfer, screen print heat transfer, and vinyl.
Many DIYers have gone to their local craft store at some point to get “iron-on transfers” – these are the low quality version of heat transfers. The success (or failure) of a heat transfer, as well as its quality and longevity depend on the ink used, the transfer paper used, the heat, pressure, and heating duration. The professional version of this is a “Screen Printed Heat Transfer,” usually made with Plastisol (a very sturdy and thick ink). You can buy these from a screen printer and then apply them with a heat press!
Heat transfer vinyl is another process that is commonly encountered. At the hobby level, you can find such products as a “Cricut” or similar machines. However, professional-grade machines are often called vinyl plotters or vinyl cutters. There are even expensive specialty machines that print on vinyl and cut it! People are often wary of vinyl, since they’re used to hobbyists applying it with an iron, so it peels off! Professional vinyl is often used in lettering and names on sports jerseys and is often quite thick.
- Very easy to start
- Relatively easy to learn
- Can apply to a wide variety of materials (for example, can apply on both cotton and polyester t-shirts)
- More expensive professional materials (particularly vinyl) can be extremely long-lasting
- Relatively difficult to master
- Aside from professional grade materials, the transfers are not particularly long lasting
- Quality is highly variable
- T-shirts / apparel
- Some promotional products