- What Are Transfers?
Without going into the fancy technical
terms for transfers, let me explain a bit
more about heat transfers.
A heat transfer is when a logo, design
or other kind of artwork is
"copied" and then printed onto
a sheet of heat transfer paper. When it's
printed on the paper, it is printed in
reverse (backwards or mirrored) so when
you heat press the transfer to a garment,
it comes out the correct way.
There are 3 kinds of heat transfers
that are most commonly used today. The
first is plastisol
heat transfers. This transfer is
screenprinted using plastisol inks and is
applied to most garments (t-shirts, caps,
aprons, towels, etc...).
When you're using plastisol heat
transfers, you can specify hot peel or a
cold peel transfer. As far as costs are
concerned, if they're one or two ink
colors, it's affordable, but when you get
to full color transfers, then the costs
go up. Each piece of artwork must be
color separated and screens made for each
ink color. This could run into hundreds
of dollars .
A Hot Peel transfer is when you heat
press the transfer to a garment, as soon
as you open the heat press, you peel off
the transfer immediately. This leaves a
nice 'hand' on the fabric and there is
little ink left on the transfer paper.
Most hot peel transfers are designed for
white and light colored fabrics.
A Cold Peel transfer is made using a
different type of plastisol ink. When you
heat press the transfer, after you open
the heat press, you rub the transfer with
a chalkboard erasor to make sure the
entire transfer has adhered to the fabric
and then you let it cool. After the
transfer has cooled, you peel the
transfer off the garment. The
"hand" is usually heavy and
there is no ink left on the transfer
paper. Cold peel transfers can be applied
to white, light and dark colored
garments. By using cold peel transfers,
the chance of the fabric bleeding is
reduced. A prime example of bleeding
would be a white ink transfer heat
pressed onto a red t-shirt. The red dye
would bleed through and the white
lettering would turn pink.
second kind of heat transfer used today
heat transfers. These types of transfers
are made with a special ink, printed onto
paper designed specifically for
sublimation ink transfers. When printed,
the ink colors are very dull. When you
close your heat press to the transfer,
the heat and pressure from the heat press
turn the inks into a vapor (gas) and that
vapor is forced into the fibers of the
shirt or the coating on the hard items
(mugs, tiles, etc...). When the heat
press is opened, you simply remove the
transfer from the item and the item is
Once applied to an item, the imprinted
area has no "hand". As the heat
and pressure from the heat press force
the ink vapors into the fabric, there is
no ink or paper residue left on the item.
Once the item has been imprinted, it
won't come off and you can't feel the
design on the fabric or surface.
What makes sublimation ink heat
transfers so popular is the ease in
printing them. Sub transfers can be
printed by letterpress, offset, litho,
mimeograph, copier and inkjet printers.
Unlike plastisol heat transfers,
sublimation ink transfers can be applied
to cloth (t-shirts, jackets, aprons,
sweatshirts, caps, etc...) metal for
plaques and signs, ceramic mugs, ceramic
tiles, glass tiles, wood, plastic and
more. Using sublimation transfers, you
can print 25 transfers and place them on
25 different products!
The third kind of heat transfer used
today are the OEM/Pigmented heat
transfers that are printed on inkjet
OEM means Original
and the preferred printers are the Epson
family of printers. Please see the
Printers Section for more about the Epson
The preferred Epson inks are their new
Durabrite inks which are a pigmented ink.
Pigmented inks are more fade resistant
and do not run when washed.
Pigmented heat transfers are printed
using pigmented inks and, like the
Durabrite inks, are fade resistant and
colors do not run when washed. Be warned
that not all pigmented inks carry this