Heat Printing Tri-Blend Fabrics

How to Heat Print Tri-Blends

You’ve heard the term, but do you know what “tri-blends” are? Tri-blends combine three different types of threads creating a unique fabric with its own look, feel, and drape. Tri-blends are typically a combination of polyester, cotton, and rayon used for T-shirts or sweatshirts. Cotton gives the fabric breathability, the rayon gives it incredible drape, and the polyester gives it durability. Cotton makes up about 50% of the fabric, with a mixture of polyester and rayon in the rest of the blend. Depending on the fabric, the rayon content increases its heat sensitivity; therefore, if you find a garment with a little less rayon, you’ll reduce its sensitivity.

How do you heat press tri-blend fabrics?

  1. Use heat transfer vinyl or screen printed transfers made specifically for tri-blends.
  2. Use proper pressure.
  3. Use heat printing accessories.

Use Materials Specifically Made for Tri-Blends

Because tri-blend fabrics are typically heat sensitive, it’s important to use materials that apply at a low temperature. Simply taking the transfer material you have and reducing the temperature on the heat press is not a solution. By doing this, you run the risk of the transfer not adhering properly or reducing its durability. Using the right transfer material is key.

Elasti Prints® screen printed transfers are an ideal choice for tri-blends. These screen printed transfers were specifically designed to be applied at a low temperature to prevent melting or scorching of heat sensitive, stretchable fabrics. It’s simple: the lower the heat, the less chance of scorching.

CAD-CUT® Premium Plus is a great option if you prefer to cut your artwork on a vinyl cutter. It applies at a low temperature and is available in a wide range of colors. Plus, you can choose the carrier that works best for your project. Choose high tack if your artwork contains a lot of fine detail and low tack for artwork comprised of larger elements.

If you have a print/cut system, the SuperTEK® line of printable heat transfer vinyl is your go-to for tri-blends. This HTV line is lightweight, stretchable, soft, and available in a gloss, matte or semi-matte finish. If you’re looking for a printable heat transfer vinyl that has superior opacity perfect for dark substrates, then you can’t go wrong with CAD-COLOR® Soft Opaque. If you don’t have a print/cut system, no worries. Let us do the work for you. Simply upload your design, choose the transfer material, and place your order. You can order your full color digital transfer in one of the SuperTEK® options or in Soft Opaque.

Use Proper Pressure

Pressure is one of the three vital factors to take into consideration when heat printing. Be sure to follow the application instructions depending on the transfer material being applied. The size of the lower platen is another consideration when setting pressure. If you are heat pressing a smaller print location and have moved to a smaller platen, you may find that you are over-applying the pressure without even realizing it.

For example, let’s say you need to apply a left chest logo and are using the 4″x6″ Quick Change Platen on the Hotronix® Fusion IQ®. The upper platen on this heat press is 16″x20″. The over-application happens when the mass of larger upper platen comes down onto a much smaller space. Cut the pressure back slightly to reduce the chance of this happening.

Use Heat Printing Accessories

Using the right transfer material and being mindful of pressure settings are steps in the right direction for successfully heat printing tri-blends. But don’t forget about using heat printing accessories.

Use a smaller lower platen. By using a smaller lower platen on your heat press you’ll move areas off the press that may interfere with accurate application. For example, you can load a raglan tee onto the heat press without worry that the collar or shoulder seams will get in the way while heat printing. With an even pressure, your application will be a success because you isolate the print location.

Use pads or pillows to help even out the print area. Print Perfect Pads and heat printing pillows elevate the print area providing a solid surface for even pressure. Both help when you need to work around buttons, zippers, and seams.

Now that you’re armed with tips for heat printing tri-blend fabrics, open the door to opportunity. You now have a way to attract customers by offering something comparable to that found in popular retail stores. And, because that’s where this fashion-forward fabric is commonly found, it has a higher-perceived value which allows you a higher profit margin.


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