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September 13, 2019

What Is Transfer Printing?

Transfer printing, also called heat transfer printing, is a common and popular method for implementing designs and artwork onto a whole range of materials and fabrics. This process is also sometimes called thermal printing or heat-press printing, but the process is quite simple and extremely effective for detailed and photographic images and designs.

Heat transferring has become extremely popular for printed fabric bags as it effectively prints onto polyester materials, unlike many other styles of printing. Heat transfer printing uses high temperature presses to fuse the design with the fabric. This transfers the colours for totally customised designs, even onto black or dark backgrounds. This style of printing is super efficient and offers full-spectrum colour options, and whereas other methods of printing may have restrictions when it comes to the number of spot colours you can use, there is no limit to your selection with heat transfers!

What Is The Heat Transfer Printing Process?

Artwork or the design for promotional materials must first be printed out onto special transfer paper. This paper is coated in Teflon so that it can handle the temperature that the press reaches (sometimes up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s also important that the design is printed using solvent ink that is suitable for the printer. The ink is what allows the design to be transferred.

A specialist cutter is then used to create a kind of stencil, which is called a plot. This is then placed onto the target fabric, such as a printed tote bag, and then placed onto the press plate. The transfer paper must be facing up. Heat and pressure are then applied to print the design onto the material. The time required under the press will depend on the material and the type of transfer.

Due to the smart materials used in the print, the target fabric will not be damaged by the process, ensuring only high quality, precision production for your customers to enjoy!

Heat Transferring For Smes

Heat transferring offers businesses of any size the opportunity to create fully bespoke designs and merchandise materials for giveaways, staff clothing and so much more! Heat transferring is a really cost-effective printing method as, unlike screen printing, it is not overly labour intensive and can be produced more efficiently. Where screen printing requires different frames for each colour, heat transfer means the fabric only needs to go under the press once. This also makes heat transfer the best printing option for smaller batch orders.

More Benefits Of Heat Transfer

This method of printing has a multitude of benefits, but the transfer method is most popular for life-like (i.e. photographic) designs or those printing in a multitude of colours! Heat transfers can also be printed onto so many different items, from t-shirts to bags to mugs and balloons!

There are benefits to picking certain materials when using the heat transfer method, though. Opting for cotton printed bags, for example, delivers fantastic results because the material is well suited to withstand extremely high temperatures and the fibres naturally retain the colour of the ink, ensuring the design is durable. Polyblends and polyesters are also ideal for heat transferring as long as the proper settings and temperature is put into place.

Something To Bear In Mind

One thing that can be a bit of a downside when it comes to transfer printing is that because your artwork is first printed on transfer paper, and that transfer paper is then pressed onto your material, it can sometimes leave what are called heat press lines. This is when you can see lines around your artwork, where the transfer paper is raised from the fabric. It can sometimes give a kind of rubber-like effect, and can sometimes look like a lower quality print compared to something like screen printing, where the ink goes directly on the bags.

This is why at The Printed Bag Shop, we tend to use screen printing as standard, and will usually try and work with you on your design to get it to work with a screen printing method, as we believe this gives a better finish for you and your customers. However, transfer print can be super useful if your design is particularly complex and we make sure that when we do supply you with transfer printed bags, they are of the very highest possible quality.

For more information about transfer printing or to find out which process would be best for your order, get in touch with the expert team here at the Printed Bag Shop!