Heat Transfer Solutions

Heat transfer solutions

WPS 4000 Heat Transfer Press Product Ref: QR1283

What heat press should I buy?

A common question but the answer is rarely straight forward as there are many factors to consider.

What is a heat press.

A heat press is a machine engineered to imprint a design or graphic on a substrate, such as a t-shirt, with the application of heat and pressure for a preset period of time.

Where does it fit in the process.

1, Choose an image to put on a product like a t-shirt
2. Print onto heat transfer paper
3. Lay the image on your t shirt
4. Use a heat press to transfer the image on the t shirt.

Which heat press should you buy

What are you going to use it for?  Garments (T Shirts, Hoodies, Caps), promotional items (mouse maps, phone cases etc) , DTG preparation and curing, sublimation, Vinyl, Plastisol transfers etc   Heat Presses are involved in all of these process however there are a few areas to consider before parting with your money

So here are some of our views …
Accurate Heat – to get the best results a heat press needs to maintain accurate and consistent heat across the platen. Too little heat may not activate the adhesives to fully fix the graphic to the garment, too much heat can affect the graphic quality, reducing opacity or not giving an even cure.

Digital control – needed to ensure you have accurate temperature you don’t want fluctuating temperatures, you need accurate timings and therefore consistent results. Many digital controllers come with timers and safety features such as auto shutdown and alarms.

Even pressure – uneven pressure will lead to poor adhesion and inconsistent curing of ink therefore always choose a press which you can adjust and set for different thickness of substrates.   Some presses have pressure gauges which are ideal for ensuring consistent results.

Size of the Heat Press – there are many sizes to choose from and a key question to ask when buying a press is ‘What is the largest size of garment / substrate will I be using?’ It normally makes good sense to buy a press that can accommodate future needs.  It’s also easier to align garments on a larger press. Some presses come with interchangeable platens which gives you much more flexibility.

WPS 4500 Sport Heat Transfer Press Product Ref: QR1279

Clam or swing away?

  • A clam has a smaller footprint, when using a swing away you need to give space for the swing which on the bigger units can be quite significant
  • A clam is typically less expensive than a swing away and less moving parts
  • It is easier to see what is going on with a clam, if a garment has gone out of alignment you can do something about it
  • Clam presses are typically more portable
  • Swing aways different from a clam with the heating element lifting up parallel and swings completely out of the way.
  • It is often stated that with a clam press to increase the chances of burned knuckles with the clam however with a swing away it is just as easy to get the fingers in the way. Quality clam presses open wide enough to reduce the chance of accidents.
  • Swing aways are often more popular with DTG printers but you can also use a Clam
  • Swings aways typically can be set to give more pressure than a clam, we have found that some transfer papers don’t work well on clams
  • You can debate this but it really does come back to personal preference and budget.  The simple answer is choose the press that suits your needs.

Budget – always choose a press with a lifetime heater warranty, with CE certification (real Certification (beware some of the cheap China imports are not made with high quality components and may not be actually certified compared to European / US presses). It’s better to buy the right equipment first time out rather than the cheapest – quality equipment is designed to last years with warranty backup if there is a problem. You will often find broken low quality heat presses lurking in the back of many print shops.  If your business is reliant on the equipment then consider the impact of the heat press breaking.

If you have questions at all please contact us to discuss your requirements

A simple guide to heat curing

Curing your screen printed garment

When you have printed the garment you need to cure the ink otherwise when the garment goes through the wash you will notice that it fades, cracks and in some circumstances disappears altogether. There are some inks that are air dry but popular inks such as plastisol and waterbased inks need to be cured.

Curing is the actual chemical process by which the ink dries and bonds to the shirt fabric.

We are often asked ‘what is the best equipment to cure screen printing textile ink?’ The simple answer is a tunnel dryer however they can be expensive especially when starting off, so what are the options?

Important: Not all textile ink cure at the same time or temperature. Have a look at ‘The Cure’ which looks into ink curing in some detail.

Always check the documentation that comes with your ink and remember that the best test is always a wash test.

What equipment can be used?

Hair dryer

Hair Dryers – they are not hot enough, they will dry a waterbased ink but not cure it – NOT RECOMMENDED

 

 

IronIron – Don’t give an even heat and most are not hot enough to cure the ink fully. If you are printing T Shirts for your own use and are not worried about the ink gradually disappearing then an iron is an option – NOT RECOMMENDED

Heat GunHeat Guns – With a lot of patience and skill you could cure the ink but you are likely to scorch the garment so be careful. You can use a heat gun to touch dry the ink (the same job as a flash dryer) prior to printing the next colour – NOT RECOMMENDED (limited use)

 

Flash dryersFlash Dryers – normally used for touch drying the ink between prints when printing multi colour, it is possible to use a flash dryer to cure the ink but can be time consuming and requires management to ensure the garment does not burn. Works better for plastisol ink than waterbased ink (which requires longer cure).   LIMITED USE FOR LOW PRODUCTION.

 

 

 

Hand CurerHand Curer – can be used for both touch drying the ink between prints when printing multi colour and comes with a timer making use easier. Can also be used for ink curing as the hand curer uses quartz elements which heat immediately and cool immediately making the equipment safer and more energy efficient than a traditional flash dryer. We use hand curers for exhibitions and training sessions. RECOMMENDED FOR LOW PRODUCTION.

Heat PressHeat Presses – are fine for curing low numbers of garments, most modern presses have timers making it easier to manage. Heat Presses are used for lots of different applications such as vinyl transfer so commonly found in most T Shirt printing shops.

When using a heat press to cure screen printing inks you will need to put some grease proof paper or transfer release paper on the ink first before curing. You will need only a very light pressure and you will need to set the timer according to the ink you are using. Can be used for curing screen printing textile inks

 

Tunnel DryerTunnel Dryers – the best solution to cure large numbers of garments in a short space of time but the most expensive. They can cure potentially hundreds of garments per hour. We make them to all shapes and sizes based on the level of production and the size of garments being used.   If you are printing with waterbased inks choose the longest dryer you can afford to avoid having to put the garment through twice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED