T-Shirt Forums banner
1 - 20 of 72 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just out of curiosity, how well do heat press t-shirts sell as opposed to screen printed ones? I don't think I know any women who have bought heat press printed t-shirts. Do men prefer them over women? Would it be stupid to offer screen printed tees AND heat pressed ones?

Thanks :)
~B
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
27,690 Posts
I think from a customer point of view, if they don't know (or aren't told) which type t-shirt they are buying, they will *assume* that it is screen printed.

I've seen a few sites sort of "hide" the fact that they are using a heat press to print the shirts.

I personally think that customers generally prefer a screen printed shirt because of it's overall quality and longevity. When you go to a store and buy a t-shirt (from Target to a T-Shirt Boutique), 99% of the time you are buying a screen printed t-shirt.

That being said, I have purchased t-shirts that were printed via a heat press or dye sublimated and I've seen a wide variety of quality (the same can be said for a screen printed shirt). The early t-shirts by cafepress (around 1999) weren't as good as the printing they do now.

I don't wear to many white or light colored tees (here's one of my favorites that I've purchased), so that usually puts the heat press or dye subbed tees out of the running.

But what it boils down to is that I'll purchase any QUALITY printed cool t-shirt design that grabs my eye. Some sites do a better job than others in relating the quality of their merchandise.

I don't think it would be stupid to offer both, but you may want to explain the difference in the the printing to your customers.

If your transfers show through and are really obvious, you can get customer complaints about the shirt being a "cheap iron-on".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
400 Posts
It makes very little difference because the majority of consumers don't even know what a screen printed t-shirt is. The thing that really sells a t-shirt is the design.

When I used to sell dye sublimated t-shirts I sold many to people actually searching for a dye sublimated tee. I found that quite odd, but the quality of the dye sub tee can be awesome! But the majority were just after a t-shirt.

Nowadays I sell probably 99% just to people searching for a t-shirt of no particular manufactured process.

CafePress is an example that heat press t-shirts sell very well! And I have proof of that myself ;)

The trick is to buy decent transfers and press them with a heat press. The "cheap iron" comment offends me ;) I think it is a good business decision to offer both types. Heat press = short runs, screenprinting = long runs. You can offer a personalisation service using heat press transfers that will out profit any screenprinting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Adam said:
You can offer a personalisation service using heat press transfers that will out profit any screenprinting.
Thank you guys so much! I actually see so many personalization places out there and wondered 'gosh how can they afford to screen print that'. I suppose it makes sense to use a heat press. They seem to run pretty cheap. (inexpensive)

Silly question: do they take up a lot of space? My apartment is teeeeeny. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,906 Posts
This is a bit longwinded, but should be helpful.

In general, the advantage of doing heat press is 1) you can do any number of colors (even photographic) and 2) you can print small runs and custom orders. Screen printing offers 1) Better quality (opinions vary here, but more say that screen printing is better - not by nearly as much as it used to be, though) and 2) the ability to print on to dark shirts. One final advantage to heat transfer is that it's MUCH cheaper to get started in if you want to print them yourself, especially if you can find a used press.

The quality of using heat transfer really depends on the quality of your supplies. Obviously a heat press is going to be a lot better than an iron. You'll want a good ink, either Epson's OEM Durabrite or Magic Mix (Epson printer highly recommended). You'll also need a good transfer paper like the Transjet II (a.k.a. Magic Jet). If you use quality materials, the shirt quality is nearly as good and long lasting as screen printing.

As for the amount of room a heat press takes up, it obviously varies on size. The smallest press you'd want would be a 12x10 (aprox) press than can only do 8.5x11 paper such as the Hix Hobby Lite. These have the advantgae of being relatively portable (35 pounds) so you can use them to do custom jobs at special events, for example. You can go up to the 15x15, which is an average size, probably the most desired, or even up higher to have 15x21 (heavy, 100+ pounds - this is what I've got, about).
What you'll want depends on how big of prints you want to do, as well as what you can find (I'd recommend a used one). Even if you're only doing 8.5x11, a larger press can be very handy for actually being able to position the shirt and center the transfer (this one I can say from experience). There are also two different types of heat presses: Clamshell and Swing-Away. Swing-Away presses are a little more expensive but are considered easier to work with and heat/press more evenly. Clamshells take up less space.
As for the acutal space used, the recommended 'working space' (including room to swing the press back) for the press I have is as follows:
Depth: 47" (119.4 cm)
Width: 37" (94 cm)
Height: 25" (63.5 cm)

Smaller presses will need less room, you can generally find the press size and the recommended working space on websites selling the presses. If you're really strapped for room you might want to go clamshell, otherwise I'd recommend a swing-away. As for brand, Hix is generally considered the best, Geo-Knight the worst because of it's electrical/burn-out problems (they'll send replacement parts and the presses themselves work fine, but it's an issue they've know about for years and haven't fixed).

As for where to buy a press, I'd suggest used. Call up local t-shirt shops (check the yellow pages under 't-shirt' and 'screen printing') and ask if they have a heat press they'd like to sell or if they know of anyone who does. That's how I found mine, and if you find it locally you can save the shipping cost and actually take a look at it (and test it out) before you buy it. You can get a used one much cheaper (aim for 3-4 times lower than the price of a new comprable one), especially if it's just been sitting around for a while unused (again, as was the case with mine; he decided to go full-time screen printing, we got the press for about 1/6 the price of a new one). You can also check thrift stores, pawn shops, flea markets, etc.

Let me know if you want any more info about any of this; I can measure the actual space we're using for our press if you want me to and give info on where to buy paper, etc.

Here's about what my press looks like (mine is an older model): http://www.instagraph.com/221_large.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you! That really has helped me. Are all shirts with full color photos done with heat press? I have a few of those and the print quality is really nice.....I didn't know if that's something that can be screened.

What is your preference in transfer paper?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,906 Posts
I don't think all of them are; there are some other weird transfer methods out there that I'm not too familiar with, and some that look really colorful are only a very few colors done by masterfully blending in screen printing and such. Store-bought shirts seem to crack and die a lot faster than custom ones actually, in my experience (which is admitedly not too broad).

Another type of transfer you can do with a heat press is vinyl/flock. This is what makes a little bit more of a standout effect (That is, more hand - how thick it feels on the shirt), and is actually cut to the design out of vinyl (flock is similar, but more of a felt-like feel to it). I'm not too familiar with this method either, but you'd need a special vinyl cutter, and I think it can only do 2-3 colors easily.

As for transfer paper, I'd recommend ordering from http://personalizedsupplies.com/transferpaper.htm . Highly recommended by others in the business, as well as quick delivery and service. You can also buy Magix Mix ink here, ink specially designed for use in transfers. (I'm using Epson Durabrite ink, which is almost as good but you need to adjust the color profiles a little bit or some prints will have a 'yellowed-out' appearance.) You can get the same type of paper (TransJet II / Magic Jet) here: http://www.coastalbusiness.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=290 . I haven't dealt with the latter personally, but haven't heard anything bad about them. Price is about the same.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
I have been printing with heat transfer designs using a heat press for over 5 years. I believe quality between the two are a toss up. Quality of shirts, and designs make a big difference. I will tell you that all the shirts we have sold at our online store have never received any quality complaints. Tried and true, I'am still wearing 9/11 designs that I printed in 2001, the shirts are wearing long before the designs. I press all of our heat transfers at 390 for 10 seconds, heavy pressure works great. Remember the most important is quality, and heat press settings.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
54 Posts
Hi guys,

There is no major difference between Screen Printing on to Transfer Paper using plastisol inks etc. or Screen printing Directly on to T-Shirts. Basically the same process. Both use films and screens and both types are the best quality because of the inks used.

Digital ( photocopy or ink jet ) iron-on transfers are the worst in quality. Ideal for hobby or home business etc. but not used by Major Brands.

I guess it all depends on what type of transfers you use with a heat press.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
I have been printing with heat transfer designs using a heat press for over 5 years. I believe quality between the two are a toss up. Quality of shirts, and designs make a big difference. I will tell you that all the shirts we have sold at our online store have never received any quality complaints. Tried and true, I'am still wearing 9/11 designs that I printed in 2001, the shirts are wearing long before the designs. I press all of our heat transfers at 390 for 10 seconds, heavy pressure works great. Remember the most important is quality, and heat press settings.
I DEFINATELY AGREE! HEAVY PRESSURE AND TEMP ARE KEY !

ALSO INFORM YOUR CUSTOMERS ON HOW TO WASH AND CARE FOR THEIR T-SHIRTS IS A BIG FACTOR IN THE LIFE OF THE TEE!

I ALWAYS SUGGEST WASHING THE GARMENT INSIDE OUT
AND HANG DRY. LOW TUMBLE

SWEETFACE
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Lately, I have been using Cafepress to showcase my shirts because it's a cheaper way to see if they will sell (I have had shirts screen-printed in the past). Cafepress offers both direct and heat transfer. For a new design, I order one shirt of each method to compare quality. Since most of my designs have been full color, the heat transfer has always looked better for detail and color. I have several shirts printed this way that have been washed many times and still look good. No one that I have sold to complains that it is a heat transfer. For single color graphics, however, I would probably pursue screen printing.
PJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
I think from a customer point of view, if they don't know (or aren't told) which type t-shirt they are buying, they will *assume* that it is screen printed.

I've seen a few sites sort of "hide" the fact that they are using a heat press to print the shirts.

I personally think that customers generally prefer a screen printed shirt because of it's overall quality and longevity. When you go to a store and buy a t-shirt (from Target to a T-Shirt Boutique), 99% of the time you are buying a screen printed t-shirt.

That being said, I have purchased t-shirts that were printed via a heat press or dye sublimated and I've seen a wide variety of quality (the same can be said for a screen printed shirt). The early t-shirts by cafepress (around 1999) weren't as good as the printing they do now.

I don't wear to many white or light colored tees (here's one of my favorites that I've purchased), so that usually puts the heat press or dye subbed tees out of the running.

But what it boils down to is that I'll purchase any QUALITY printed cool t-shirt design that grabs my eye. Some sites do a better job than others in relating the quality of their merchandise.

I don't think it would be stupid to offer both, but you may want to explain the difference in the the printing to your customers.

If your transfers show through and are really obvious, you can get customer complaints about the shirt being a "cheap iron-on".
So, in your opinion can a business operate with heat presses only, and be competitive with the larger companies? or should screen printing be an aspiration for growth?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
27,690 Posts
So, in your opinion can a business operate with heat presses only, and be competitive with the larger companies? or should screen printing be an aspiration for growth?
Yes, depending on the business and depending on the operator, a business can run very successfully using THE RIGHT heat transfers.
 
1 - 20 of 72 Posts
Top