T-Shirt Forums banner
1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
27,689 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I basically have ZERO actual experience with a heat press :)

99.9% of what I've learned about heat presses and heat transfers is what I've read here in these forums.

When I started these forums over a year ago, I only knew about heat transfers from my experience using and working with CafePress (buying printed t-shirts from them) and through a few t-shirts I have bought online from t-shirt companies that use transfers to make their shirts.

the long version....


Screen Printing Bias :)

In general, I'm a screen printing guy. Although I've never actually screen printed a shirt myself, I've seen the process done many times.

When I first started selling t-shirts online over 10 years ago, I pulled out the phone book and found a screen printer in my area. I took my Microsoft Paint created BMP file on a 3½-inch floppy over to the screenprinting shop and asked him how I can get the design from the floppy to a t-shirt.

Luckily, I found a shop that was willing to sit down and work with me and answer all my questions (I had a LOT).

After I got my first shirts printed, I was sold on the quality of screen printing.

Heat Transfer Stigma

10 years ago, getting shirts heat pressed wasn't even an option for me.

For one, I don't think I even knew that people made shirts with transfers. The only transfers that I had seen and had experience with were the ones you could buy from an office supply store that you put on with a home iron. I thought that's all there was to transfers (who knows, it may have been all there was back then).

Later, as I learned more about printing process, I heard a bit more about transfers. Most of this came around 1999 when CafePress started out. That was my first real experience with transfers on a t-shirt bought at retail.

A Lesson in Quality

It was also about that time that I learned that there are bad quality prints and good quality prints with almost any technology that you choose.

I got this idea that my screen printer was charging me too much, so I went to another local screen printer and had a batch of shirts printed up. Same design, same artwork as I gave the first printer, but the quality of the finished product was worlds apart from the first printers work. And not a good world apart, the bad, shady part of the world where you don't want your t-shirts to go.

The design on the shirts was almost see through, they didn't create the screens correctly so there was a "chip" out of the design on all the shirts, the design was printed the wrong size and stretched out. I learned right then and there that the "cheapest" printing isn't always the best route to take. I also learned to try to ask more questions BEFORE I put in a screen printing order with a new printer so I don't have any surprises :)

Finding the Right Printer

After that, I ended up finding yet another new local printer a few cities away, ironically found via the internet. We clicked right away and I tried him out with a small run and he gave me good prices and great printing. He ended up showing me different techniques I could use on my designs, taught me more of "the ropes" and we ended up being good friends :)

At the time I was still going to school full time and working full time, and when people at my "day job" asked me what I did, I always said "I sell t-shirts". Some of them took that to mean that I could "make" t-shirts for them, so I talked with the screen printer and I started doing local sales and marketing for him.

CafePress Heat Transfer Quality vs "Others"

When CafePress first started, all they offered were white t-shirts printed on demand with a heat press and inkjet transfers. I liked the idea of getting the shirt on demand, but I wasn't totally sold on the quality of shirts they produced.

I was already selling screen printed shirts, so I couldn't see myself selling the quality of shirts they were selling at the time to my customers. However, they DID offer me a way to sell coffee mugs and mousepads on demand without me having to stock inventory. So for the first couple of years, I just used them for that. Over the years, their t-shirt printing quality improved and I eventually ended up adding some designs to my shops with them. They kept growing their available product line and improving their print quality, so I grew with them.

A few years into my experience with CafePress, I was approached by one of their competitors (now defunct), asking me to try their services. I ordered a couple of products with my logo and I saw first hand the difference between a quality heat transfer and a crappy heat transfer.

Learning From Experience

I like to learn from experience. Whether it's my own experience or from the experience of others (as is so generously shared in this forum).

Since I've read just about every single post that's been made in this forum, I felt like I've learned a great deal about the quality improvements that the heat press industry has made.

So the forums is where I've learned what to do, what not to do, what different papers there are to try, what you need to get started.

I guess I sort of feel empowered enough to really give it a shot and see how heat press can be a business of its own AND how it can compliment an existing screen printing shop.

So throughout this process, I'll also be showing you the selection process AND the forum posts and discussions that helped me to decide which equipment to buy.

I'll also be trying out EVERY kind of heat transfer process I can think of to give it my own first hand review. Sometimes people have tried one paper, but not another paper so it's hard to give a comparison.

I'll be your heat transfer guinea pig :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
27,689 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting. I'm also a screen-priting guy, and not really a big fan if inkjet transfer especially when it comes to to dark t-shirts. So Rodney, I'm closely monitoring you.
I'll be doing both inkjet transfers and vinyl transfers (as well as plastisol). I want to try it all :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
227 Posts
Rodney.... I would be very interested in an unbiased evalutation of durability..of both the transfers and anything else you try.... I have a Storefront screenprinting business and own a heat press but have been hesitant to use it becasue of the various heat transfer shirts that are carried in here cracked and peeling asking me to copy them..... I don't know if this is normal or just poor workmanship in our area..... I have followed the forums and see so very little about longevity... I hate turning down the print on demand walk in business... but it would be a disaster to equate our thriving screen printing operation with shirts with a short lifespan.... I've had the same (but not as many) pressed vinyl come in peeling also but as with the other I don't know if thats just poor workmanship or normal shorter lifespan with anything heat pressed..... Well be following your observations closely... and Thanks in advance..... Chuck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
505 Posts
Awesome! :) a little of "Rodney mistery revealed" and a great thread to look forward to. Best of luck to you!

By the way this thread reminded me something I was thinking a few days ago. I thought that it would be neat for some members to start blog-like threads (kind of like this one) that will have them share their experiences step by step. I know that I will start one at some point. Not just yet because I am not able to dedicate enough time to the project and don't have enough info. I want to do it for myself to have it available as an old reference to go back to.

Anyways, enough of my blah blah :) Rodney rules, long live Rodney! Hurray!!!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
27,689 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I thought that it would be neat for some members to start blog-like threads (kind of like this one) that will have them share their experiences step by step.
I've been thinking about adding a function to the forum that would help out with that. Maybe 1st quarter 2007 :)
 
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top