January '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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5 0 P R I N T W E A R J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 0 Hot Item DECORATING WITH HEAT TRANSFER VINYL, GLITTER, & SPECIALTY HEAT TRANSFER MATERIALS R I C H A R D C O A R T N E Y S tarting a new business can be over- whelming. There is so much to learn. For the person new to the imprinting, embellishment, and decorated apparel industry, the first bit of advice I would recommend is to be pre- pared to have all the right software, tools (weeding tools, heat press wraps, heat press pillows, thermo tape, Teflon cover sheets, etc.), and equipment for your garment and textile embellishments. Let's examine some of the key things needed to get started with heat printing. THE BASICS In the fast-growing world of heat transfer applications, having a quality heat press and vinyl cutter is a key factor and element be- fore any apparel decoration/embellishment is possible. Being able to consistently pro- duce heat transfer projects for your custom- ers that cad-cut and adhere with good qual- ity will keep your customers coming back time and time again. I always recommend that one also gets basic training in a graphic design software program like CorelDRAW, Illustrator, or Photoshop to get familiar with the various file types needed for your vinyl cutter's soft- ware program. Once the necessary software, tools, and equipment are properly set up based on technical specifications by the manufac- turer, you're ready to cut and apply heat transfer films to your garment, textile, or substrate. After cutting a letter, number, or design, simply weed away the excess with a weeding tool. The remaining cad-cut or transfer film will be heat pressed at a typical temperature of 315 to 330 degrees F with medium, even pressure on the heat press for 10 to 15 seconds depending on the desired fabric. For nylon and many heat-sensitive materials like leather, there are heat trans- fer vinyl materials manufactured specifically for those applications and are heat pressed at lower temperatures for 3 to 5 seconds. MAIN MATERIALS Another transfer polyester material that is very popular in the spiritwear, athleticwear, boutique store, and T-shirt markets are glit- ter material embellishments. One-color glit- ter material is very popular, however, when you cut glitter material on your vinyl cutter, you must make sure to change the angle of the blade and make sure that the blade is never dull as glitter material is thicker than common vinyl material and more labor intensive to work with. The markups are much higher with glitter decorated projects than other heat transfer materials and worth the extra effort once mastered. Other basic heat transfer printable media materials that require four-color solvent/ eco-solvent or latex inks are yellow, ma- genta, cyan, and black (CMYK). These types of heat transfer applications are for customers that desire a four-color effect on a garment or textile that displays a compa- ny logo, sports team, special event, or oc- casion which shows more than a one-color number, letter, or design. This process is a bit more complicated and requires color profiles to be set up, but most manufactur- ers, suppliers, and distributors provide spec sheets for these media. For the newcomer to the custom apparel industry, I recommend doing all the neces- sary research for which type of heat press, vinyl cutter, and plotter (print and cut) manufacturers are out there, and in your Transfer films come in a wide variety of finishes and textures. Do research and test them each out, especially when starting. (All images cour- tesy the author)

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