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If you own a fabric printing company and you need wholesale supplies of fabric for heat printing, you must check out Spandex Warehouse. We offer heat printing, which is an easy and affordable method of fabric printing that can be used in a wide range of applications. If you want to know more information, we encourage you to keep scrolling below to find out.

What is heat printing?

Heat printing is the process of printing in different materials by using heat to transfer the image or design from heat-applied materials to different objects that are called substrates. These substrates are the base materials that will be used where the images or designs will be transferred or printed which includes, t-shirts, fabrics, bags, caps, etc. 

Heat printing is one of the easiest and most economical printing methods for fabrics. You can easily do it by using heat transfer equipment, using either a heat press or an iron press. The heat applied materials where the design will be printed has an adhesive on the opposite side, which will then be activated by exposure to heat. 

Once the heat is applied from the equipment to the heat-applied material, the adhesive will then be activated which will stick to the substrate you have chosen to print on. 

Heat printing applications

Heat transfer printing is common in the garment decoration industry. It is an easy and economical printing method that works with different items like shirts, fabrics, bags, fanwear, jersey or sports team uniforms, caps, etc. 

This printing method needs heat; it will only work on items that can remain undamaged during the process of heat transfer. Most fabrics and t-shirts can withstand heat so they are commonly used for this specific printing method. You must be careful when choosing different materials as heat can easily damage synthetic garments.

It’s important to choose a fabric or garment that is resistant to heat. Heat transfer printing is popular among schools, the fashion industry, clubs, sports teams, corporate organizations, and start-up businesses. 

What are the different types of heat transfers?

In the past, heat transfer printing was limited to using heavy plastic film fastened to a fabric or garment as a cheaper substitute to screen printing. The output will have a glittering surface and rubbery feel to touch, but it easily peels off when washed. Nowadays, heat transfer has greatly improved which uses ink or material-based heat transfer.

Here are some of the different types of heat printing.

Material-based transfer

This type of heat printing uses a physical material or film that comes with a heat-activated adhesive back that is transferred to a substrate by using heat press equipment. Most designs used for athlete uniforms, sports team jerseys, and non-apparel materials use the material heat-based transfer. 

Previously, rigid materials were used for this method, however, it is not sustainable as the transfer material does not stretch with the garment especially when washed, so it easily peels off after a few washes. Due to the emergence of material technology, stretchable transfer materials are now available for stretchable garments and fabrics. You can choose different designs and images and heat press them. 

Print cut transfer

This type of heat printing is also known as “opaque transfer”. This requires both cutting and printing which can be done at once or individually. This can be done by printing the image or design onto the transfer material, where it will be cut, then the transfer material will be fastened to the substrate such as fabric via heat press equipment. 

You can also do it in a one-time operation that involves dual print-cut equipment that does the printing and cutting in succession. The commonly used transfer materials are white, so there is no need to use white ink for the white color of the design, you just leave the area to print in white clear as the white material will show and it will subsequently create white spaces when you need them in the image or design.

The transfer material must be lined up properly in the cutter to make sure that you cut it properly so there will be no white material that will be visible around its edges. This newer version of transfer material and equipment is quite popular in the garment industry because it is high-quality and durable. 

Ink-based transfer

This type of heat transfer method is also known as “digital transfer”. It is easy, fast, and economical. You will only need heat press equipment, apparel ink, compatible design software, and a working inkjet printer. 

This transfer method uses heat but does not require that the material has an adhesive back part. The ink-based transfer method is done by using a suitable inkjet printer that uses special inks and works with the substrate that will be used to decorate the image or design, which will then be printed on a piece of commercial “release” paper. 

The transfer paper material will then be put on the substrate (fabric or shirt) and attached using the heat press equipment. After the transfer has been done, the transfer paper will be removed and the design or image will be printed on the substrate accordingly. The unique feature of the ink transfer method is that the adhesives are on the transfer paper surface already or it is already mixed with ink and will be activated when exposed to heat. 

Sublimation

It is a digital heat transfer printing process that prints the image or design on pastel, polymer, or white polyester surfaces using a suitable inkjet printer and special sublimation paper. 

Dye sublimation transfer printer

This method has a similar process to the ink transfer, but it differs in the chemistry used in the process. It does not require the use of adhesive as it is molecularly bonded already. The heat and pressure are then applied to the material and will react with the sublimation ink to transform it into a gaseous state, which will then permeate and affix on the polymer or polyester fabric.

It will then recolor the fabric fibers from the inside out, so you will not feel the ink when you touch the surface of the fabric or garment. It will result in permanent coloration with high-quality resolution and clarity which will not easily crack, fade or wash out even when subjected to multiple washing. 

One of the benefits of sublimation is that it can be used for decorating different materials such as clipboards, mugs, mousepads, plaques, signage, etc. But keep in mind that it will only work on surfaces that are polymer-based, which means you must use fabrics with some form of polyester. It is economical and it is one of the most popular heat transfer methods among photographers. 

Heat transfer used by crafters

This heat transfer method is used by crafters and they use a hot pressing iron and heat press. The heat press is a type of equipment that imprints a pattern or graphic design on a substrate using heat and pressure at the same time. There are different types of heat press such as manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic and they may range in different sizes. 

The auto-open clam heat press is commonly recommended for beginner use. It is portable and will need a small space and can be used for multitasking without the risk of burning the fabric or garment. 

The swinger/drawer heat press is commonly used by experienced heat printers. It is capable of producing high-volume of work and will require a larger space. It allows you to thread garments on or off the platen in a heat-free workspace and is the most expensive type of heat press, so it is recommended for high-volume businesses. 

Hot iron

It is an effective method as it is more economical and can be a great alternative option to the heat press. It is a great choice for small jobs so they are preferred by hobbyists and crafters for home use. It is not suitable for high-volume jobs or commercial purposes. 

What are heat transfer printing tips that you must consider?

  • Test the transfer by printing using regular paper before you print on the fabric. This will allow you to prevent any errors and save money in the process. 
  • Before you start the heat press process, you must pretreat any garments that needit. You can also pre-heat the fabric for a few seconds without using the transfer paper so you can get rid of creases and moisture on the fabric. 
  • Choose and use a suitable fabric. You must check the fabric that you will use for the printing and make sure that it can handle heat before you start the procedure. 
  • Pre-wash items like t-shirts, fabrics, garments that require washing so you can prevent any shrinkage and wrinkles that can occur after the first wash.
  • Ensure that the fabric will be loaded properly into the heat press equipment before you start the process.

If you need fabrics for printing, you must choose Spandex Warehouse. Please click this link if you want to order wholesale fabrics for printing. You can request a quote for any specific fabric that you need. If you want to purchase any fabric you can fill up our purchase order form. If you have any questions or inquiries regarding our products please message us through this contact form.

Based in LA, California, Spandex Warehouse has been working with different clients for more than 15 years. We are offering different types of fabrics, if you need fabric for printing or fabric for sublimation, please let us know. You can call us at 213-629-7416 or send an inquiry email at [email protected]

We have a showroom located at 776 Gladys Ave, Los Angeles, California 90021. If you want to visit, please schedule an appointment first. What are you waiting for? Contact us today! Make sure to choose a trustworthy company like Spandex Warehouse for all your wholesale fabric supplies needs.