Heat transfer is an extremely dynamic field with new innovations being developed and introduced on a continuous basis. There are a wide range of methods available for transferring images, text, graphics, logos and other types of designs on fabrics and substrates. While screen printing or silk screen is one of the most common and widely used methods, professional designers and hobbyists can achieve very similar results by employing specialty transfer papers.
The heat printing process using transfer paper is similar to the direct-to-fabric process or screen printing, but does not carry the same high costs. Designers need only a heat press or a home iron to transport the illustration on to a shirt or the material of their choice. Transfer papers are also quite easy to apply and use. However, different forms of crafts require very different materials and methods. Hence, it is best to know what you need from your project in order to identify what kinds of transfer paper to purchase and how to use them appropriately.
Inkjet Transfer Paper
The use of inkjet transfer paper is ideal for home use and small business applications. The process involves transporting images, numbers and texts onto specially coated inkjet transfer paper using a normal inkjet paper and normal dye-based or pigmented inkjet inks. The inkjet transfer papers are suitable for both dark as well as light colored garments, but the method of application will slightly vary.
Sublimation Transfer Paper
The sublimation transfer paper is used in combination with sublimation print system and inks. Under this type of heat transfer paper, the ink sublimates or turns directly into a gas without first liquefying. The sublimation method issues varying amounts of primary colors with a clear coating on to the sublimation transfer paper. Sublimation transfer paper achieves best results on synthetic fiber, polyester and polyester blend but is not suitable for printing on cotton or cotton-based fabrics. Similarly, sublimation transfer paper is also used widely to print hard goods such as mugs and other promotional items. In addition, the sublimation transfer paper helps you create a more professional and cleaner look, thus leaving no difference between the actual image and the garment on which it is printed.
Plastisol Screen Printed Transfer Paper
Plastisol screen printed transfer paper or hot-split transfer paper is a method of transferring images that produces a finished product almost identical to screen printing. During the process of printing, the illustration is transported on to the plastisol transfer paper using a screen printer. A heat press or iron is then used to print the image on to the garment. This method is less expensive than the sublimation printing technique. However, the printing method using plastisol transfer paper requires investment in specialized equipment such as heat presses and screen printers.
Transfer papers are widely used in the textile sector, small and medium enterprises as well as home applications. Which type of transfer paper you acquire and use depends largely on your own style, preferences, budget as well as the various demands of the project you undertake.