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Art2Silkscreen guide for screen printing plastisol heat transfers. You will find this guide useful when using a heat press to produce your screen printed transfer. Of course there are a number of ways to produce transfers, such as with the use of a conveyor dryer and/or flash dryer. However, we have put together a simple starting guide below for those who have only a heat press and wish to produce single colour prints.
The basic process for producing heat-applied plastisol transfers is uncomplicated. You print a design with plastisol ink, but instead of printing it directly on the garment, you print the design on special paper. The paper is then passed through a conveyor dryer where the ink is heated until it has gelled just enough to be dry to the touch. It's important not to cure the ink too much.
The resulting transfer print, can be stored until needed. When you want to apply the transfer to a T-shirt, place the garment in a heat transfer press, put the transfer on top of the garment, ink side down, and close the press. The heat and pressure applied by the press will force the ink into the garment and finish curing it. When the press is opened and the paper is peeled off the shirt, the ink remains behind. When done correctly, a heat-applied plastisol transfer will be as permanent as a direct print and under some circumstances nearly indistinguishable.
1) Select mesh count suitable for your artwork.
2) Prepare and coat your screen with emulsion.
3) Expose your design Mirror Image print side up on your screen (when you are looking at your screen when printing the design is mirror image).
4) Dry the screen, filling any spots using the solvent resistant screen filler.
5) Tape the edges of the screen.
6) Set up printing press with a 1 mm off contact. On a professional press adjust the head, or when using a hobby kit, tape 4 x coins on the bottom corners of the screen.
7) Position you cold peel transfer paper on your printing board.
8) Print your image onto the paper the same way as you would a t-shirt using plastisol inks.
9) Remove the paper from the printing board and sieve/sprinkle the adhesive powder over the wet plastisol print making sure that the powder evenly covers the image, allowing any excess powder to roll of the paper back into the tray.
10) Set your heat press between 180-250º F (82-121º C)with medium pressure, allowing it to heat up for 5-10 mins.
11) Make a Picture frame out of 3mm correx or cardboard that will hold the edges of your transfer paper down when placed on the heat press.
12) Place your transfer paper onto the heat press bed, place the frame over the transfer paper so that it holds the edges down so that they do not curl under the heat.
13) Bring the top press plate down so that it sits on the frame not on the paper for 15 seconds.
14)Lift the heat press plate up and remove the frame and also remove the transfers. Perform a test run first, by placing a small finger on the plastisol image to ensure that it is dry. Various factors can alter the drying time such as heat press reliability, printing stroke and the thickness of the ink you may have to adjust the touch dry time by two or three seconds to ensure that they are dry.
15) Transfers can now be stacked.
16) Transferring onto t-shirts, sweatshirts or baseball caps, cut the transfers out.
17) Set the temperature of the heat press to 155 degC.
18) Place your garment on the heat press.
19) Fuse the transfer onto the garment between 350-400º F (177-204º C)for up to 20 seconds. Remove the garment from the press allowing the transfer to fully cool down before removing the transfer.
Cold peel transfer paper will allow you to produce multi colour transfers if you have a multi colour press, follow the same procedure.
Why Use Transfers?Why would you want to print transfers that require extra materials (the paper), extra labor (the transfer application process), and more equipment (a heat transfer press) when you can print directly on the garment? There are several situations where plastisol transfers are actually more efficient, economical, and profitable than direct printing.
If you print the design on transfers, you can take the transfers, a transfer press, and a stock of blank shirts to the event and decorate the shirts to order. At the end of the day you have some unsold blank shirts, which you can put back in stock to sell another day, and some surplus transfers, which only cost you a few pence each so you can afford to throw them away. Sales are increased and waste is reduced.
Plastisol heat transfers may also be the most profitable decorating method when you have to reprint a design frequently, but in small quantities. Let's assume that you have a design that you print four or five times a year, but each order is for a small quantity of shirts. The labor involved in setting up the press each time will significantly increase the cost of the job. If you print an entire years supply of transfers in one press run, you can store them, then quickly and inexpensively apply them to blank garments as each order comes in. Job costs are considerably reduced and the shirts can be decorated in minutes.
Plastisol heat transfers are also a popular method of decorating baseball caps. Baseball caps are difficult to print well because of the complications involved in printing on a curved surface. Transfers for baseball caps can be printed very quickly because the design is so small that you can print several on one sheet of paper. Applying the designs is also quick and easy with a special cap transfer press that automatically wraps the transfer around the curve of the cap.
Another factor in favor of plastisol transfers is that, for beginners at least, only simple, inexpensive equipment is necessary. Although large transfer companies that produce millions of transfers a year use complicated and expensive production equipment, for printing small orders or to get started in heat transfer production, a simple press, easily manufactured by the screen printer, and a heat transfer press is all that is required.
For those who require a more in depth guide for printing transfers, we can email this to you upon request when purchasing any of our transfer products. Please contact us for more details.