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I have heard that it is possible to print heat transfers using a DTG HM1 (I am sure it is possible with others however that is the model that I have).

What type of paper do I need?
Where can I get it?
How are the graphics set-up?
What is the cure time after printing?
What is the cure time to transfer the image onto a garment?
 

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I dont understand why you would want to print on transfer paper with it. I cant see how you would cure the ink on a transfer as the transfer polymer would melt once its in the heatpress. I cannot see being able to do this.
 

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I have seen this done with a Brother printer on dark transfer paper. I just don't see the benefit with an HM-1 that can print white ink. But it should be able to be done.

From a cost side, dtg ink is way more expensive than pigment or dye based inks for transfers. So I am not sure from a profitability standpoint, the benefit of doing this. Just my opinion.

Mark
 

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I use these at events where I want to travel light and let the customer chose the garment they want them on. Have you been able to do this on transfer paper with your DTG?
 

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Jeanne & Don,

In the case of printing on to dark transfer paper, there is no need to print white ink since the transfer paper has a white backing to it. The problem with the dark transfer paper (as any digital transfer printer will tell you) is you have to trim the excess around the design or it looks like you glued a piece of paper to a shirt. This is where the benefit of dtg printing comes from. In the booth that I saw them printing on dark transfer paper from a Brother (but could be done by any dtg printer) as mentioned aboved, there were using an optical registration cutter to cut around the design. This is an additional step that takes time. In addition, the cost of the CMYK ink on a dtg printer is substantially more expensive (depending on which ink you are using) compared to a heat transfer ink. For these reasons, this is why I believe no one really tries this decorating technique unless it is the last resort.

Hope this helps,

Mark
 

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As Mark pointed out, the time involved in producing the transfer and then the steps involved in making the transfer look acceptable is equal to, if not greater then, the time it would take to to just print directly on the garment. One other thing to keep in mind - f you print directly on the garment (which is what digital direct to garment printers were designed to do) then you have a print which looks like a screen print. A transfer print will have a transfer look.

Harry
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Mark,

I am aware of the white transfer material, but most folks aren't. The typical question we get is about printing transfers for dark shirts, using white ink from a DTG machine - using standard transfer paper, not using the special paper you mentioned. Perhaps I assumed too much - just going with what I hear most frequently.
 

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There are applications for this as I had mentioned before. And so there exists companies that do just that. They print transfers for you to take to events with a heat press and they are screenprinted transfers, such as Ace Transfer. It is not very practical for me to bring my DTG to an event.
So I want to know if it is possible to do a transfer on a DTG machine and avoid having to pay a company to do it for me.
 

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Jeanne,

I think what some of us above were trying to say is that it is possible for you to print on to a digital transfer paper using dtg printer and dtg inks, but the overall process of doing this is going to be more time consuming, cost more to produce (i.e. ink, paper, labor, additional equipment potentially,...) and will create a lower quality product in the end. The key to understanding all of this is the digital transfer papers come with a polymer that is covering the entire sheet. This polymer is used to "glue" or adhere the ink to the top of the garment. This polymer also acts as an inkjet receptive coating (IRC) that allows waterbased inks to be printed on it without bleeding. With dtg inks, you don't need this polymer layer. When you try to press the digital transfer to your garment, all of the polymer on the digital transfer paper will carry over on to the shirt. This polymer can leave an additional hand (i.e. feel) and potentially discolor the color of the garment. To get around these less desirable effects of digital transfer papers, you can trim / remove the extra part of the paper where you did not print on so that no extra polymer goes down. The trimming part can be done by hand (time consuming) or using an optical registration cutter (less time, but requires an additional piece of equipment). For detailed designs, you will spend additional pulling out the polymer inside the letters / numbers or center of designs - this is called weeding. The same exact effect can be done with inks that are significantly less than the cost of dtg inks on printers that can be purchased between $60.00 to $500.00 (more expensive printers can be used as well, but not required).

As mentioned above, there are two types of digital transfer papers - light garment (transparent polymer) and dark garment (opaque backing). The polymer on the light garment will melt into the shirt and comes out fairly clear - but still noticeable on colored garments. This allows you to print the graphic in mirror image and apply the digital transfer paper face down (which makes the design right side up when you peel the paper from the garment). For dark transfer paper, the paper has an opaque backing to it to block out the colors of the garment (which is what the white underbase layer does for dtg printing). Thus you print the design on a dark transfer paper face-up and then peel the opaque backing from the paper carrier. You place the opaque backing that has a polymer on the back side face-up on the shirt, cover it with a silicone sheet (to protect the design) and close the press.

In regards to the companies that print designs for you like Ace Transfers, they are using a special type of plastisol screen print ink. They have to go through the process of creating the screens for the different colors in the design and then they print this special ink (which is different than your dtg ink) on to a release paper (different than a digital transfer paper) and semi-cure the print. This process is called plastisol transfers and is done for a lot of event on-site productions (fairs, bike rallys, tournaments,...). The release paper used for plastisol transfers does not have an IRC coating on it. So you are not able to use the same paper for plastisol transfers on your dtg printer.

In summary, yes you can print on digital transfer papers with a dtg printer using dtg inks. Is this the business decision? Probably not, but we don't know all the factors associated with your business and whether the final output is something that your customers will be happy with to make the purchase (and hopefully many more in the future). Hope this clarifies things.

Mark
 

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Chris,

We have done a lot of testing of inkjet transfer media in DTG machines. It works well and is great for transfer to vinyl, danier for bags and also for caps and umbrellas etc where we can not get direct prints with the DTG.

The steps are fairly easy we just use a large piece of stiff board coated with spray adhesive to hold the paper down flat for printing and place on the bed of the machine.

If you want to put the paper through a vinyl cutter for complex shapes then you have two choices. A) either use a GX24 roland or similar that has the laser eye registration reader - youll need to print the registration mark as well for the cutter to read - just drop into your artwork.
or B) if you dont have a cutter with registration reader just do the reverse - i simply put the sheet through the cutter first and before weeding then stick the full sheet to the bed of the DTG and print over the top. But i suggest you print a registration square top and bottom and then also print this to the board with the adhesive so that you can line these up for registration.


You will find that the textile inlks used in DTG machinery is a lot better in color and wash fastness to transfer stock than normal Epson ink. I have tried most brands and all seem to image well. The trick is to use teflon sheets and not baking paper when you heat press.

Teflon will create a gloss surface to the prints where baking paper will create a matt finish. What resolution you print at will depend on the software you are using and the brand of paper.

I also agree that if you have stock designs that you have created and can sell at shows etc then taking the transfer media will allow you to offer more than shirts and will give you a greater deal of flexibility. I highly recommend umbrellas, back packs, compendiums, diaries etc

Hope this helps
Steve
 

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Thank you both for that wealth of info. It seems that I will stick with Ace as they have great cust serv. and it's more cost effective.

Steve, I did want to know how you press your umbrellas once you make the transfer in your DTG.

Thank you,

Jeanne
 
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