What is the purpose of a heat press?
A heat press is the machine that presses a transfer onto an Imprintables substrate. Using high temperatures and heavy pressures for a certain amount of time, the transfer is permanently embedded into the product. Heat presses are recommended for professional and satisfying results simply because standard laminating devices and home hand irons cannot get even near the temperatures required for a reliable transfer. Standard transfers require anywhere from 375° to 425° F and demand serious force while applying consistent pressure that ranges from 40-80 psi. These temperatures and pressures are simply not possible with other heated devices.
What is a transfer made of?
A transfer is made up of a carrier paper and inks. When heated to a certain temperature and pressed with a significant amount of pressure for a certain amount of time, the transfer inks are passed over to the imprintable material. Some inks are adhered and embedded to the surface of the material, while others (namely, sublimation) permeate the coating of the material.
What transfers should I use?
Transfers can be heat pressed onto fabrics (both natural and synthetic) using standard plastisol (preprinted) supplier transfers, color copier or ink-jet transfer paper. Heat transfers can be printed onto mugs, plates, tiles, mouse pads, ceramics, metals, glass and wood. For substrates that have hard surfaces, sublimation type transfers are required. When printing shirts, mouse pads or almost any light color fabric material you would typically print with ink-jet, color copier/laser transfers or plastisol heat transfers. The important factor when heat pressing with sublimation transfers onto non-natural fabric substrates is to be sure the material has the proper polyester synthetic coating, as well as a UV coating if protection from the sun and other rays is an issue. For this reason, it is best to get the materials pre-coated from a supplier.