Thinking of embarking on a shirt printing business? Or, do you simply want to make printed shirts with your own designs out of hobby? Probably, you’ve stumbled upon about heat press while searching. But before choosing a big heat press machine, be sure you know all about this shirt printing process, as well as its pros and cons.
This is to make sure that heat press printing suits you well. Remember that each shirt printing methods have their share of advantages and disadvantages. And you don’t want to waste cash, time and effort because of skipping to know about these essential points.
What really is Heat Press?
Printing shirts is a non-dying trend for people worldwide. Traditionally, screen printing is the most popular and oldest method of putting printed designs on fabric. But heat press offers some bigger benefits which people find desirable.
Heat press is about using heat transfer to attach a printed design on a fabric. Although, it’s widely used for other purposes today, such as on mugs, mouse pads and rugs among other items. It involves printing a design on a special paper, then pressing it on the fabric. The process is almost similar to pressing a design using heat iron.
How Heat Press Printing really works?
Aside from a shirt, you need a heat press machine and heat transfer papers to do the job. Heat press machines come in different variations, regardless of being for personal or industrial use. For example, some has platens which moves like a drawer, while others open and close like a clamshell.
But if you only plan small production of printed shirts, such as one or few outputs, go for small heat press machines. Larger machines are great for mass production, such as few hundreds of shirts for marketing purposes.
After finding a heat press machine, buy the best heat transfer paper for your job. Ideally, choose clear transfer papers for use on white or grayish white fabric. Opaque transfer papers suit colored fabric best.
Begin by creating your own design using a graphic designing software in your PC. It’s possible to create one using your smartphone too, then simply transfer it to your computer once done. Goal is, you must produce a printed output of your design on the heat transfer paper.
As a quick tip, however, do a trial print on an ordinary paper first to see how your design work after printing. You don’t wish to waste expensive heat transfer paper because of unsure designs.
Now, prepare the heat press machine. Follow instructions stated on its manual. But generally, you must heat it up to a desirable temperature first. Once the temperature stabilizes, place the fabric and the designed transfer paper on its platen. Close the machine, and wait for few seconds until the alarm rings.
For best results, consider heating the fabric alone before the actual printing process. Ironing it beforehand is also a great idea. Your objective is to make the fabric straight and plain for printing. Printing on an uneven fabric ruins the design.
Once the heat press process is done, leave the shirt for at least 24 hours—ideally by hanging it up. Don’t wash or iron the fabric within the timeframe.
Pros and Cons of using Heat Press
Think the heat press process is great? See its pros and cons before making up your mind.
Pros of Heat Press
This is probably the most popular benefit heat press offers. It’s easier to use than many other shirt printing methods. Even beginners can use it without any problem, and it’s easy to get the hang of it for regular use. Many people even buy heat press machines simply to satisfy their shirt printing hobbies—without any serious income reasons.
In addition, heat press is easy to set up. You only need a shirt, a printed transfer paper and a machine. You can choose to print your own design on a transfer paper, or buy one with pre-made designs. If you’d choose smaller heat press machine, you won’t have worries about easily fitting it in your home.
- Clean Design and Workstation
Associated with convenience, you don’t need to deal with messy inks when using heat press. Primarily because you only need to rely on heat transfer papers for designing. You don’t need to manually draw the design on the fabric itself. You don’t even need to dye it up.
As a result, you’d get a clean design on the shirts. Moreover, your workstation remains clean after the process is done. No need to wipe-off a lot of mess.
- Accurate Design Details
The heat press process transfers a design from the paper to the fabric accurately. That’s regardless of how complex your design is. That includes colors, shapes and minuscule details among other features in your design. After all, it’s basically making a copy of your design to the fabric.
- Wider Designing Scope
Combining the three earlier advantages above, heat press allows you to work on better scope of designing. It means you can make more designs on a shirt seamlessly. For example, you’re not limited on the front and back wide areas of shirts. Instead, you can place designs on sleeves, collars and hems among other smaller points.
It’s possible to make almost any design concepts too. That’s regardless of using white, gray or colored shirts.
Lastly, heat press is more affordable and practical for small scale job. Smaller machines are available, plus you can buy heat transfer papers in small quantities. It’s perfect for personal designing purposes, as well as for small shirt printing business which only involves few pieces of outputs.
Cons of Heat Press
Now, here are the disadvantages of heat press you must consider. If you think pros outweigh these cons, then you can start looking for a heat press machine, some transfer papers and ideal shirts.
- Unsuitable for Large Scale Printing
The primary disadvantage of heat press is its unsuitability for large production. It’s time consuming, as well as impractically expensive. Note that heat transfer papers are not reusable, so you must buy in large bulks for mass productions. You need a more expensive heat press machine as well, or probably few of them to somehow speed up the production rate.
That’s why many companies prefer digital printing instead. It’s a more practical solution than heat press for large production, while being a bad choice for smaller scale.
- Low Quality Prints
Yes, you’d get stunning print results from heat press in terms of aesthetics. Thing is, they often possess lower quality. Such prints eventually fade after several washes, and ironing can potentially damage it as well. Moreover, it makes the fabric stiff, which some people see it as uncomfortable to wear.
- Unsuitable for Dark-Colored Shirts
Finally, heat press is perfect for white and other bright-colored shirts. Using it for dark-colored shirts often lead to unclear prints on the fabric. That’s regardless of any transfer paper you use.
Heat press is undoubtedly one of the best shirt printing processes available today. But it also has some disadvantages you must consider before using it. Hence, be sure to search more for best results on your shirts.