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Things You Should Know Before You Buy Heat Transfer Paper

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Heat transfer paper is one of the best ways to make high-quality custom T-shirts and other garments like headware. It’s incredibly easy to use but if you are new to it, then there are a few things that you need to know before you purchase your first heat transfer paper.

Knowing these important rules will help you make sure that you buy the right paper and save your money. Let’s dive into the rules you must abide by when it comes to heat transfer paper: 

What Kind of Heat Transfer Paper Printer You Have?

It is important to consider what kind of printer you use for heat transfer paper because heat transfer papers work with laser printers or inkjet printers. They are not cross-compatible. So, if you have a laser printer, you will have to buy a laser transfer paper. And if you own an inkjet printer, then you need to buy inkjet transfer paper.

If you do not know what type of printer you own, all you need to do is look for the model name on the label present on the printer’s surface. Some printers even have inkjet or laser written in the name. Or you can just run a Google search on the model’s name. You can also open your printer to see if it has toner cartridges or ink cartridges. Ink cartridges are small and have liquid ink. On the other hand, toner cartridges are larger and have toner powder.

Laser Printers vs Inkjet Printers

Both printers have the capability of producing high quality, professional T-shirts and garments.

Read More: T Shirt Printing & Transfer Paper Types

Inkjet printers are cheaper than laser printers. In the garment personalization industry inkjet printers have the lowest startup prices, and are most suited for printing photos. The drawback, however, is that they don’t self-weed, you have to cut around the picture before you press it into a piece of clothing, especially when working with darker garments.

Laser printers are more expensive and are better for vector-based art, especially if you use some sort of RIP software like FOREVER Transfer RIP that lets you rasterize photos and gives superior washability. The biggest perk of doing heat transfer using laser printers is that they are self weeding, so you do not need to cut around the garment.

Light HTP vs Dark HTP

This is extremely important to decide before you even begin. You need to decide whether you want to use heat transfer paper dark or light because white and light-coloured items need a different transfer paper than black and dark-coloured ones. 

The reason for this is that the toner and ink depend on a white background to produce accurate colour reproduction and be visible. So, on white or light backgrounds, such as tan, off-white, natural, and light ash grey, you will need a transfer paper specially made for light garments. A light heat transfer paper has a transparent polymer coating, so whenever it is placed on a coloured garment the shirt colour will take on the empty spaces in the print.

On the contrary, dark coloured garments, like green, red, navy, black, and blue, need paper made only for dark garments. A dark heat transfer paper contains an opaque, white polymer coating, so the image will transfer as originally designed. However, both types of paper can be used for iron on heat transfer paper or commercial heat press. 

Another thing to know, before you finalise what is the best printable heat transfer paper is the type of fabric. The majority of transfer papers work with poly/cotton, 100% cotton, and 100% polyester. If you are working on fabrics other than cotton, polyester and poly/cotton blends, there is no guarantee what kind of heat transfer papers will or will not work with them. 

Also Read: Polyester vs Cotton vs Blends: Which One Is Better?

Type of Artwork

One last thing you need to consider is the kind of artwork you want to print. Vector graphics are line or shape-based illustrations made using software like CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator. Vectors are most commonly printed using heat transfer paper. So, if you want to print vector-style graphics, then you can use any type of heat transfer papers. But if you want to print photographs, then your choices will be limited.

With photos, your best choice is inkjet transfer paper for lights, however, inkjet transfer paper for darks has a little caveat. Inkjet transfer paper for darks has a white, opaque and thick coating which can be felt once the image is transferred onto the shirt.

Laser transfer paper is difficult for photos because standard laser printers only deliver bold colours. To print a broad range of colours, you will need a more advanced laser printer that uses white toner.

Do not let these factors confuse you. Just keep in mind that if you want to print photos, inkjet heat transfer paper for white and light-coloured garments is a good place to start. For vector-based designs, you can use any kind of heat transfer paper.

Tips & Tricks to Successfully Nail Transfer Paper Application

When using a light heat transfer paper:

  • Always mirror your image before you start printing it.
  • You can trim the edges of the image you want to press, but it is not a compulsory step.
  • Always remember to remove the transfer paper backing after pressing the design onto the garment. Also, it is important to remove it while it is still hot.

When using dark heat transfer paper, follow these tips for the best results:

  • Do not attempt to mirror your image before you start printing.
  • With dark paper, any place that you do not cut away the transfer paper, your desired design will end up getting transferred as white on the dark garment. 
  • Always remove the paper backing before you, lay it on your garment and always keep the image face up.
  • Cover your transfer paper using parchment paper or silicone before pressing.
  • Remember to not peel your transfer paper from the garment as soon as you have pressed it. Only remove the parchment paper or the sheet of silicone.

Concluding It Up

Now that you know what to consider before buying heat transfer paper, you have the green light to start shopping and creating the best custom printed clothes.

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Olivia is a seasoned blogger and printing enthusiast with a flair for fashion. With over three years of experience in fashion, she brings a unique blend of creative insights and industry knowledge to her readers. Passionate about the art of printing and the latest fashion trends. Her engaging writing style and expert guidance make her a go-to source for anyone looking to explore the dynamic world of fashion printing.

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