2020 transfer printing trends and tips

Tommy Newton, production manager and Adam Salter, artwork manager at Screenworks offer their insights into transfer printing trends for 2020 and tips on how companies can focus on these trends and deliver the best quality possible.

Over the last few years we have seen the popularity of transfer prints increase year-on-year. Driven by better quality and an increased range of products that can now be transfer decorated, we are predicting a huge rise in transfer printing over the next decade.

In terms of developments transfer printing has been something of a constant over the last few years, with steady developments on quality and special effects. In 2020, we are expecting that the usual special effects, such as foil and glitter, will remain ever popular as well as more creative brand positioning on garments. We’re seeing trends towards branding on side panels, the back shoulder and on sleeves over the traditional left breast.

One element we are seeing a growth – in particular – is the use of transfer printing on customised items to create a truly unique look and feel that makes a piece look like it has been bespoke made.

With lower MOQs across the industry, transfer printing may well be headed for something of a boom over the next decade. Due to the fact there are no set up costs for smaller numbers of garments and other textile products, transfer printing is generally more cost effective than screen printing. This type of technique can really help create a unique feel and look, which is more in keeping with a brand’s identity, rather than being governed by the restrictions of other branding processes.

Larger items

Brands and businesses are focusing in on quality and durability. Today, we are seeing growing numbers of orders for jackets, holdalls, laptop cases and other practical, often larger, items. Printers now have such a huge range of diverse items they can offer their clients.

Screen printing has its limitations when it comes to larger items, so this is often where transfer printing comes into its own. The developments in terms of quality and durability with transfers means this is fast becoming a great option for many larger products and items.

Multi-colours – for customisation

Transfer printing developments have produced harder-wearing finishes that are tested to withstand 50+ domestic wash cycles and can offer multi-coloured designs using print and cut vinyl which can’t be achieved using other decorating techniques. This means clients have a greater range of options to choose from and can really go all out there with the customisation and design.

In 2019 we’ve seen a really eclectic mix of styles come through. Implementing new processes has enabled us to produce stronger coloured transfers that really make an impact. Incorporating a sub blocker stops the colour of the garment or textile coming through the transfer; imagine a pure, pure white on a black background and the light colours really pop out.

In an increasingly competitive market standing out and being bold are crucial. As such, in 2020 we are looking at more use of colour and stand out artwork. The developments we have seen in print and cut vinyl machines over the last decade has meant we are now able to deliver strong, accurate photographic images and beautiful multi-coloured artwork.

Many creative individuals in the industry are pushing the boundaries on what can be done. We’d advise businesses to utilise their employees’ skills and experiment with transfer developments so clients can really differentiate themselves and their brands.

Techniques – foils and glitters

There are a variety of popular trends at the moment including foil transferring, vinyl print and cut and neon/reflective glitter. These are really effective, but need to be done well to have the best impact and deliver on quality.

In 2020 look to improve skills in both glitters and neons and foil adhesives. For those hoping to offer good quality foil transfers we’d recommend starting with well thought out artwork that really suits the process. Make sure the design has no fine detail. This technique is best suited to bold artwork that can be left to shine.

Ethical considerations

With growing interest in vegan lifestyles, promoting a more humane and caring world a vegan transfer print option where no animal products or by-products are used and the product is created in a cruelty-free warehouse is now something that key industry players are already offering. A great option for brands appealing to this growing audience.

Push the boundaries

In 2020, don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new. Some of the best work, aesthetically, comes from customers who are willing to push the possibilities of the transfer process, so focus on quality, but always look to develop your transfer printing skills.

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