There are two main ways to customize a t-shirt and get a graphic design or artwork onto a t-shirt: namely: heat-transfer printing and screen printing. If you are not in this line of work, it may be difficult to notice the difference with your naked eye. However, both methods do differ a lot when it comes to t-shirt printing.
What is digital heat transfer printing?
Digital heat transfer (also known as digital transfer) printing is the way of applying your digital print’s design unto your desired product (t-shirts, caps, and even bags).
Heat transfer printing is often referred to as digital heat transfer printing as well. Many will argue that it is essentially the same thing. But in actual fact, it is true, because heat transfer printing is by definition the method of printing, which is the process of utilising a heat process to apply design and colour applications onto t-shirts, caps, and even bags.
How does digital heat printing work?
(1) First, your custom design is printed onto a transfer paper
(2) The transfer paper (the cut out e.g. logo) will be placed on your fabric
(3) The heat transfer process begins – the heat press will be warmed up
(4) Once the fabric is in placed, the fabric will then be pressed by the machine
(5) After some time, the press is released and you can now remove the film that is on the fabric
Your heat pressed fabric is done!
Equipment needed for heat transfer printing:
– Computer: graphic design software needs to be used to create the desired graphic design
– Printer: get a printer that is used for heat press applications
– Special ink & special heat transfer paper
– Cutter: to cut out the design of the transfer paper
– Heat press machine
– Heat pads, heat taps, and heat resistant sheets
– Your chosen fabric
What are the Pros & Cons of using digital heat transfer printing?
• It is able to print more complex designs with multiple colors
• It helps to produce high-quality designs
• Its digital capabilities allow for easy customization and execution
• Does not cost a bomb for smaller order quantities comparatively
• Easy personalized customization
• Easy to do on a wider range of fabric options
• The graphics do not last as long as screen printed t-shirts
• Due to its high quality design look, it has a stiffer feel on the fabric
• Large custom designs are not recommended as the printing paper usually is limited by its dimensions
Heat Transfer Vs. Screen Printing For T-Shirts
Screen printing uses screens and inks to transfer an image unto a fabric. This process is much more time consuming, however it is much more cost-effective for larger quantities. On the flipside, it has a softer feel on fabrics and the graphics last longer compared to heat transfer printing.