by Courtney Matlick, Stahls’ CAD-CUT® Direct
|Comparison of two caps – the one on the left made incorrectly, the one on the right made using the proper heat printing accessories.|
Apparel decorators are always excited to learn about the possibilities that open up when printing caps with a heat press. Why? Heat printing hats is easier than screen printing and faster than embroidering them, which opens up a new window of sales opportunities.
Take this customer for example. He purchased a cap press, excited about the possibilities with customizing hats. Only days after receiving his cap press, he began printing his first job with Stahls’ CAD-CUT® Fashion-FILM® heat transfer material. Unfortunately, once he placed the cap press down over the bottom platen of the heat press to prepare it for application, he noticed that he was having difficulty getting accurate pressure on the polyester moisture-wicking cap. Being inexperienced, he attempted to press the transfer to the cap anyway. What he got when he took the cap off the heat press was an unattractive box on the cap where it was heat pressed. Panicked, he called Stahls’ looking for a solution. How did we help him solve his dilemma and ensure the rest of his order came out flawless? With a few heat printing accessories!
First, let’s address the issue of pressure that he noticed when placing the hat down on the cap press. As with any garment, accurate pressure is essential to ensuring a durable transfer.
- Make sure you have the correct heat press platen for the job.
- Because of the many different styles of hats that are available, interchangeable heat press platens to match up to your specific cap style are a must-have. For this cap, we tried each of the 4 cap platens and found the All-Star fit its style best.
- Keep a Print Perfect Pad handy.
- Print Perfect Pads are that secret accessory that looks similar to a mouse pad. They’re perfect for those jobs when you want to raise your print area. Because of the unique style of this fitted hat, we still noticed a bit of a gap between the point of the front of the cap and the interchangeable platen. To solve this gap, we cut a piece of the Print Perfect Pad to fit our platen and taped it down using Thermo-Tape so that it wouldn’t move during application. This gave him the little bit of extra material needed to feel the space.
|Notice the “ghosted” box around the design on this cap.|
Now that we solved the issue of inaccurate pressure, there was one big problem left to solve – the heat printing box on the cap. As you can see in the photo, the heat press left a “ghosted” image around the “cool and dri” moisture-wicking polyester cap when pressed. This is a common problem when heat printing delicate performance fabrics because the high heat of the press can scorch the fabric. One way to solve this problem is to use a material that applies at a lower temperature (below 280 degrees works best). Since this customer already created his transfers in CAD-CUT Fashion-FILM, which applies at 320°, we used one last heat printing accessory to solve this problem.
- The Flexible Application Pad
- Traditionally used to protect buttons and zippers under the heat press, this cover sheet has a secret power when used on heat-sensitive fabrics, including performance wear and leather. When placed over the garment, it protects the fabric by pulling out some of the heat. Because of this, it’s recommended that you increase the time of the application to ensure a durable print. For example, this cap was pressed for 25 seconds instead of the standard recommendation of 20 seconds.
Simple heat printing accessories helped keep this customer from a ruined job and from turning away future business. Do you have the right heat printing accessories for your job?