Transfers ahoy!

Do you know your laser transfer printing from your vinyl transfer printing? Peter Wright, managing director of Amaya Sales UK, explains the difference.

Transfer printing is an integral part of most garment decoration businesses. Transfer printing is a term used to describe textile and related printing processes in which the design is first printed on to a flexible non-textile substrate and later transferred by a separate process to a textile.

Transfer printing comes in many forms, such as, vinyl or film, transfer paper, print and cut process, sublimation and screen printed transfers.

Vinyl heat transfer

Using vinyl is the most basic of all the processes but can give an impressive result for doing certain jobs.

Single colour lettering or designs are the normal sort of work for vinyl but some decorators are more creative by adding extra colours or by doing mixed media designs with DTG or screen print. The process is to use a vinyl cutter to cut the outline of the design.

One disadvantage is that you have to pick out the excess vinyl, this is called weeding. This can be quite frustrating on fine and intricate designs. Look out for any new vinyls with glitter and other new features that will add to your offerings.

Laser transfer printing

This kind of printing has improved significantly over the last few years and is now a low cost way of producing full colour prints on to dark and light garments.

To create full colour prints on dark garments you would need to use an Oki white toner printer which come in both A4 and A3 size. You can purchase RIP software that can cut down on the toner usage and provide a rasterised effect that gives a very soft feel and gives improved washability.

A simple black and white laser printer can be used with some of the papers for single colour designs on dark and light garments.

The big advantage is that with these new type of papers there is no weeding like on the film and vinyl.

Costs for full colour printing are around £2,000 to £4,000 and for single colour around £500. You would also require a good heat of the swing or draw type which start at around £995.

Also remember that with transfer paper you can print on to most substrates, allowing you to widen offering to your customer. This can include printing on to mugs, metals, wood, plastics, candles etc.

You can now purchase transfer paper for sublimation that prints on cotton.

Print and cut equipment

This equipment prints on to special paper and then it cuts around the design. This can then be applied directly to the garment with a heat press. The output is ideal for workwear badges but also for high quality graphics for applying on to various substrates.

The latest equipment are now much faster and more economical than previous models. The new TrueVIS ink is available in CMYK colours and comes in 500cc pouches. The TrueVIS ink is the next evolution for eco-solvent ink technology, meeting user demands for a lower cost, competitively priced ink with a wider colour gamut and stricter environmental standards. It is also Greenguard Gold certified for indoor air quality.

Dye sublimation printing

Dye sublimation printing uses a chemical process to help transfer the ink from the paper to any polyester garment or coated product. Full colour images or lettering can easily be printed on to the paper and then heat pressed on to the product. When heated the dye (ink) changes to a gas which penetrates into the product or surface. This provides a first class print which will not crack, fade or wash out. Prices start from around £450 for the printer but you will also require a heat press. The one down side is that you can only print on to polyester products.

So, if you want to cater for everything customers throw at you then you would require most of the above, plus a good quality heat press.

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