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Screen Printed Transfers, DTF Transfers, & More

Why You Should Be Using A Heat Press for T-Shirt Printing

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Hey friends, Dave here at Transfer Express and today I'm joined by Kelly from Stahls'.

What's up everyone?

We are teamed up here together today to answer a question that we actually get all the time and that is "why should I use a heat press for apparel decorating?"

Now, from new decorators, small businesses to establish t-shirt shops, printing aparrel with a heat press could be a quick and easy method to increase your profits and diversify the products that you're offering as a custom decorator.

So are you ready to get into it? Let's roll!

First, let's start breaking down profit. It's a low-cost ordering and print-on-demand. We reduce financial risk of bulk runs and allows affordable decoration for any quantity.

Absolutely, I love that you don't have to buy bulk runs up front and that you really could run a fulfillment store for, like an Etsy shop, just completely on demand out of like a bedroom it makes it so super easy.

Then, you're not spending a whole bunch of money buying bulk runs that you aren't sure if they're going to sell and that all turns into really a lot of risk if you're buying 400 shirts and you only end up selling 20.

Then you're not profiting because you're never making that return back on your investment.

All right, let's talk about low investment. All you need is a heat press just like this Auto Clam next to me and with Hotronix machines, they grow with you and we'll go over more about this unit in just a bit.

You also don't need expensive inks or printers or materials to buy to just get the job done. There's also no huge screen printing presses or dryers needed.

That's right, you could operate a heat press just like this in a closet or a bedroom or easily build out a profitable shop in just your garage. And with screen printed transfers, you get that same plastisol ink print on a t-shirt that looks, feels, washes and wears exactly like the real thing, which is just really great to add for your capabilities as a home decorator with maybe not a ton of experience with actually screen printing shirts with a squeegee.

So if you want to decorate more than t-shirts, guess what, you can do that with a press. You can diversify your product offering so things like totes, tees, hoodies, towels, coolers, backpacks, blankets - really kind of anything that you can get under the press, you can press it.

Just like direct-to-film transfers and screen printed transfers, you're not just limited to cotton. You can actually print on rayon. You can print on blends, tri-blends, polyester.

Yep, just like sublimation is limited to just polyester, with a heat press direct-to-film screen printed transfers, and even heat transfer vinyl, could be used on a wide array of materials and you're not limiting yourself by investing in one of those more expensive and limiting setups.

In terms of decoration methods, another thing that's great about heat transfers and utilizing a heat press - you can decorate low quantity. We slightly talked about it just a little bit earlier, but you can do those one-offs with HTV if you just need to do fill-in orders or maybe you're doing something personal and somebody really needs a garment.

Of course, UltraColor Max, and direct-to-film transfers in general, are great for those higher color counts where you don't have to layer HTV but you could just get in and order a minimum of one from Transfer Express or even Stahls', so low temp applications for specialty materials like nylon or spandex, Lycra... we have transfers that are going to be excellent for not scorching or damaging those fibers in those garments.

Let's not forget that with a heat press you can even cure DTG inks, print sublimation transfers, and yes, cure screen printed shirts. And that's really important because regardless if you're just brand new or have an established screen printing shop, adding a heat press to your business is going to help you out, in either diversifying the products that you could offer, or even helping you be more efficient in the way that you're currently producing apparel.

One thing that's really important to talk about when you're investing in any equipment for your business is downtime and maintenance.

Now, with a heat press, you don't have any complicated machinery, expensive electronics, or any consumables

really to put into it like inks, like those expensive direct-to-garment printers, or even those DTF printers. Those machines have a tendency to clog if not used often or those ink lines get clogged if you're not printing in the right climate, which is the temperature and humidity of the unit. 

Of course, direct-to-garment units require the extra fix units to spray the fixative, you need rip software for your good color calibration, and of course, you're going to be troubleshooting banding in your prints or colors not looking right. While you're troubleshooting, you're not making money printing shirts.

Now let's talk about education or the learning curve. Just really learning your craft using a heat press is very very easy to learn and the best part is, we have tons of resources from education you can learn at trade shows and I guarantee you customer service on both Stahls' and Transfer Express are there to help you get your job done. 

You can also tune in to webinars, lives. We do a ton of events and education, the YouTube videos that are on demand, ready to watch anytime that you're ready to learn.

Now listen, it's also going to be less physically taxing. All you have to do is pull down the lever, lock the press in place and you're done.

So there's really two things you need to keep in mind - transfer types, so the adhesive and what types of garments they can go on, choosing your textiles, and then really placement. So location is key, size is key, and did we actually get it in the right spot.

Guess what? We have more education and tools to help you nail that in absolutely and I will say just from my experience I started screen printing probably about 15 years ago now, at this point, it took me about three weeks to actually get the emulsion right, where it wasn't getting blown out and I was wasting a ton of money buying extra chemicals because I wasn't doing it right or at least I thought I was doing it right and it wasn't turning out how I expected.

Now on top of that, I had to learn how to hold a squeegee right, exert the right amount of pressure to push the inks through the screen and then, even worry about off contact - so how far the screen was off of the t-shirt, so that you were getting a nice clean print.

All of that took, me like I mentioned, weeks to learn and if I had known what I know now, back then, I would have spent all that money just investing into a heat press. Because the first time that you pressed that plastisol transfer, you get the same exact result as screen printing a shirt but without all of that hassle of actually learning how to do it.

Okay, so let's talk about the time involved in actually decorating a t-shirt with a heat press. Okay, time is money and money is time. Utilizing transfers like Goof Proof, which is a screen printed transfer, actually only takes about four seconds to create a fully screen printed t-shirt - super, super fast!

Now, this allows you to get more production done in a certain period of time. So maybe you can do 20 shirts, maybe you're new, or you can do 10 shirts. I mean, do we have a record on how many shirts that can be done?

I haven't seen a specific record but I know myself, on an Auto Clam like this, so just a fairly basic heat press, that I'm able to do about three shirts per minute. And that's not even like really, really speeding up.

But with that four second application and easy loading, especially paired with, say this Tag Along Platen, or the Caddie Stand, which allows it to be fully threadable, you don't have to worry about is the shirt on right. You have this neck shape and you're able to just throw it on there and print, and yes in just four seconds, we're talking about really speeding up your time when you're printing.

So let's talk about Etsy shops - maybe you have a Shopify fulfillment type of store printing on demand all of these give you the ability to get that order, decorate, and then ship out immediately without having to print stock and then ship.

And that's really important for Etsy stores, too, because Etsy will penalize you if you aren't hitting your target fulfillment time.

All right, so we have gone over a lot of information. We've gone over why to utilize a heat press or maybe start investing in heat printing in your business, we've gone over equipment that you need, hiccups from other equipment.

We've covered so much but the one thing to keep in mind is the footprint. Right right here is what you see is all you need, in terms of space, there is bigger equipment - we could go Duals as you get bigger, but ultimately, this is all you need.

So it could fit in a corner. I've even heard some people store their press in the back, in an unused bathroom, and they pull it out when needed. But just keep in mind if you're starting into this path, you don't have to think on a large scale. This is your bread and butter.

So Dave, thanks so much for having me on your channel. I've really enjoyed hanging out with you and telling everybody why heat printing and using a heat press makes perfect sense.

Absolutely, I mean, heat presses have just helped so many small businesses and decorators make profitable, quality apparel possible, and of course, if you want to learn more, we do have tons of more info right on our Transfer Express YouTube page or over on, StahlsTV, or even

And we have our free online designer that's filled with tons of customizable layouts and clip art to get you started even if you're not a designer.

But I want to thank you guys for watching here on this video. Be sure you're subscribed to stay up to date on all of the helpful educational and inspirational videos that we're dropping every single week.

But until next time, I'm Dave.

I'm Kelly.

Happy pressing!

See you later!

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