by Peggy Elliott, Training
It’s easy to successfully heat print all kinds of apparel and accessories no matter what they’re made out of, provided you follow some simple guidelines. Here’s what you need to know to create high quality products for your customers.
1. Reduce dye migration with lower application temperature on your heat press.
This is the most important tip. Polyester fabrics are dyed during the manufacturing process and when activated by heat – the dyes release and bleed. The less heat you expose the fabric to, the less chance the dye will bleed through to the design. While migration can’t be completely avoided, there are ways to minimize the effect.
- Choose a heat transfer material with dye blockers.
- Cool down the heat press and apply designs at a lower temperature.
- Avoid washing and drying on high heat settings.
2. Read the garment tags or labels for fabric content and care.
Not putting the right heat transfer vinyl on the fabric you’re heat printing will result in faulty end results. It’s important to read and understand the fabric contents as well as the care instructions of whatever you’re heat decorating. For example, the Iron symbol on a care tag reflects how much heat the garment can take. Too much heat and you’ll see scorching, otherwise known as the “heat press box”.
Waterproof, water repellent, antimicrobial, UV protection, and other protective coatings can interfere with heat application. The adhesive on most heat transfer vinyl must form a bond with the fibers of the garment. Coatings can create a barrier to successful application. If you can’t find information about the fabric makeup on the label, contact the blank apparel supplier.
3. Skip pre-heating, it’s not always necessary.
For years, pre-heating was recommended as a first step to ensuring successful application on apparel. This helped eliminate wrinkles and remove any moisture from the garment that might interfere with adhesion, especially with cotton. Today, most blank apparel is made from polyester, other synthetic materials or blends of all of these. These fabrics don’t tend to wrinkle or hold moisture like a natural fabric such as cotton. Unless you are heat printing on cotton or other natural fabrics, you can skip this step and save time in the production process.
4. Follow Application Instructions. Not all heat transfers are created equal.
We’ve been around long enough to know some customers don’t want to continually change heat press settings for different products. Still, it’s important to always follow the material application instructions for the best results. The Stahls’ lab does thorough testing and knows the science behind the bonds between textiles and adhesives. They have established the correct time, temperature and pressure for our products to give you the best results.
5. Request a sample and test the product.
You don’t want to ruin a good garment and we don’t want you to either. That’s why Stahls’ offers samples to test the application. Some wholesale blanks suppliers will send fabric swatches to use in testing. Use the decorated test sample to help close the sale and keep it on display for additional promotion.
Learn more about heat applying to polyester without ruining your garments.