On Press: Today’s heat transfer papers have special surface treatment and uniform formation for excellent solid ink coverage and superior hold out. Most offset inks work well, but testing is always recommended prior to production runs.
Trimming and Die-Cutting: A sharp blade will ensure a clean cut through the stock, while a dull blade could tear the stock.
Be sure to print on the coated side of the heat transfer paper. If there are no lines or logos, scratch the corner of one side to see if the coating comes off under your nail. You can also compare color. The coating has a creamy color, but the back is usually whiter.
Some papers work well on almost all fabrics and blends, but when transferring to nylon or polyester fabrics, temperatures should be kept below 300°F to avoid migration of the fiber dyes into the transfer.
The first step is to peel the backer paper from the printed image and place the printed film face up on the garment. Once the image has been printed and peeled from the backer paper, it can be transferred to a cotton, cotton/poly blend, or synthetic garment using either a heat press or hand iron.
For heat press applications, press the imaged sheet onto the desired garment or substrate covered with a parchment sheet or other paper or fabric. Cool completely and remove the pressing sheet. Note that heavier fabrics, such as canvas, require more heat, pressure, and time.
For hand-ironing, preheat the iron to the cotton setting for three minutes for 8.5x11" transfers and proportionally less time for smaller areas. A 3x3" transfer requires about 15 seconds. Do not use steam. Iron on a smooth, hard surface that is waist level or below. Place a pillowcase or similar fabric on the surface and iron it to remove any wrinkles. Put the garment on the center of the pillowcase and iron it to remove wrinkles. Place the transfer with the image side up in the center of the garment with an ironing sheet (baking parchment or a thin layer of fabric, such as a single layer of sheet or t-shirt fabric) on top.
Using two hands, firmly slide the iron up and down. In 90 seconds, make enough passes to completely iron the shirt two times. The iron should be halfway off the edge when the edges are ironed. Repeat this 90-second process, sliding the iron side-to-side. After ironing, allow the transfer to cool completely before removing the paper.
Ask Your Paper Supplier
Your paper supplier can provide guidance in selecting the right heat transfer paper for your needs. Be sure to ask your supplier the following:
- What type of changes will I need to make in pre-press?
- How should art be managed? How does imagery need to be adjusted for tone value increases?
- Do I need to do undercover removal?
- What is the total print density?
- What should ink tack be?
- How should the papers be handled and stored?
- What lifts are recommended?
- What is the holdout and drying time?
- What is needed for trimming and die-cutting?
Commercial printers are ideally suited to compete with both desktop users and screen printers in using non-paper substrates such as fabric. They are skilled in color control and print production. They can provide exceptional detail and fine art applications, with the skill set to produce superior images. Plus, they have higher output capacity. Careful attention to production issues should put printers in a good position to increase their business volume using heat transfer papers.
Gerry Rector is the associate marketing director for heat transfer paper at Neenah Paper, Inc. Neenah Paper offers products for heat transfer papers for laser, inkjet, and offset printing. To learn more, visit www.neenahpaper.com.