Basics of Heat Transfer Printing

girl wearing a heat transfer dragon t shirt standing in a doorway

All About Heat Transfer Printing

Do you wish to attempt a DIY custom print on your t-shirts, or do you want to start a custom printing business? Before you start this exciting journey, it is important to understand everything you need about heat transfer printing in Singapore

The various heat transfer equipment in the market, including printers you can use for DIY projects, have simplified the process. However, you can only get quality prints when you correctly use the heat transfer methods. 

Heat or Thermal Transfer Printing

The heat transfer print process is common in Singapore and involves using heat to transfer images from paper to fabric. Before you start the heat transfer process, it is important to analyze the ability of the substrate to withstand the heat used during the printing process. 

Substrates, in this case, are the base materials, such as t-shirts, plaques, bags, caps, awards, aprons, and other items on which the image is printed. 

The high temperature from the heat transfer equipment activates the adhesive on the paper bearing the image, which is then stuck onto the base material. 

Key Components of the Heat-Press Process

Time, Temperature, and Force

Before you start customising your t-shirts with heat-press equipment, it is important to consider factors affecting print quality. 

How long should the heat be applied on the paper for the print to be fixed on the garment? What is the ideal temperature? How much force should you use when applying the heat? 

Time, pressure, and temperate are critical during the heat transfer process because you don’t want to risk burning the garment by pressing it too hard, using high temperatures, or pressing for too long. 

Fortunately, some modern press print equipment has guidelines on how long to press different fabric types and the temperatures to use. 

Fabric Pretreatment

Some fabrics need to be treated before heat transfer printing. This helps prevent shrinkage of the fabric when exposed to high temperatures. Additionally, some fabrics, such as wool, should be chlorinated before the heat transfer. 

Pretreatments ultimately help ensure the fabric is ready for print and that the heat does not damage it. However, not all textiles require pretreatment before heat transfer printing. 

You should, however, avoid printing on dirty fabric since this may affect some colours on the print. 

Factors That Will Influence Your Choice of Heat Press Equipment

When shopping for heat press equipment, you will be overwhelmed by the types of equipment available. Some are ideal for large-scale printing used by some of the large companies in Singapore providing heat transfer prints. There are also smaller versions for DIY prints and small-scale prints.

Before buying the equipment, you need to consider the space you have available, the type of garment you intend to print, your budget, and how often you intend to use the equipment. You also need to choose equipment from a reliable manufacturer who will respond should the machine develop issues. 

Final Notes

Your experience also matters. Some of the equipment has simple instructions which can be operated by a touch of a button. However, some have more complex settings. If you are new to heat transfer printing, it is best to start with basic equipment before progressing to more complex heat presses.