Are Your Transfers As Good As Screen Printing?

A frequently asked question is, “are your transfers as good as screen printing?”

The short answer is yes!

Our Goof Proof, Polytrans, Hot Split, Elasti Prints, Pearl, Puff, Glow-in-the-dark, and Glitter are all screen printed.



What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is the process of pushing plastisol ink through a screen using a squeegee. A screen is made of aluminum or wood, with a stretched mesh within the frame.

Screens are pre-prepared with an emulsion, then the desired image is burned out of the screen. The image creates a mirrored stencil.

The image below is a prepared screen ready for the ink process



Once the stencil is created on the screen, ink is flooded onto the top and pulled down over the stencil image depositing the ink onto a substrate. The printed ink is then sent down a dryer to cure the ink.

What Are Screen Printed Transfers?

Our screen-printed transfers are printed with the screen-printed process above.

The only difference being that we are printing onto a release paper rather than directly on apparel.

Instead of completely curing the ink, we partially cure the ink so it will release onto the apparel when the curing process is completed with your heat press.



Some of our screen-printed transfers have an added adhesive to improve durability and ease of application. This includes Goof Proof and Elasti Prints screen printed transfers.

Others use a specialty plastisol to create an effect like Glow-in-the-dark, Glitter and Pearl.


peel your transfer sheet


So when you are asked if the custom screen printed transfers are as good as screen printing, it is a resounding yes because it IS screen-printing!

You can also watch this video to see a transfer being screen printed.


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 11 comments
Joan Taryle

We sell printing and ad specialties in St.Louis. We do not own equipment. Saw you at the Chicago ASI.

Several years ago, we designed art for transfers. I ordered them from Stahls and had our silkscreener put them on. It did not go well and I lost a client. The designs were put on a white poly athletic shirt and the colors faded, badly.

In fairness, my silkscreener usually does standard color names or numbers —black, red. Mine were multi color names and numbers.

Based on what I saw in Chicago,I would be interested in using transfers instead of silkscreen, in some cases.

QUESTION: Can you recommend companies in the St. Louis that regularly use more complex transfers that would sell to me?

Thank you!
Joan Taryle
Innovative Print Group

Kathy Stoeri

This is the question I always get that I don’t know the answer to: why does something that is screen printed have a slightly rough texture to it and transfers do not have that sandy feel?

Wendy Norlin

I don’t understand why you say “Some of our screen-printed transfers have an added adhesive to improve durability “. Why would you not make products that are all durable? I am seeing some failure in the product with my customers which is making me want to stop using transfers, in particular, hot split. I also feel like the temp range and time to press range is very broad and has lots of room for error. I’m having a hard time suggesting transfers to my customers for this reason.

Dealer Services

Hi Kathy,
When using screen printed transfers, the part that is facing up on the finished garment was actually printed face down onto the transfer paper, so the ink was printed onto a flat surface and then heat applied at 60-80 psi. The ink will be smooth because of that flat surface of the paper.

Dealer Services

Hi Wendy,
All of our transfers are independently tested through 50 wash/dry cycles and will last the life of the garment. Our Hot Split transfer does not use adhesive to get that softer hand, however, it is still tested to last the 50 wash/dry cycles. Adding adhesive to our Goof Proof transfer, for example, helps make the print perfect for football jerseys and other sports jerseys that are seeing a lot of action and still hold up well. The adhesive also helps for a quicker application time. If you are having issues with Hot Split in particular, make sure you are pre-pressing to get any moisture out of the garment before applying the transfer. If you are not using a Hotronix heat press, you may need to increase the temperature as well.

Dealer Services

Hi Joan,
I’m not sure which type of transfer you have used in the past, but our screen printed transfers won’t fade. They are tested through 50 wash/dry cycles. Lots of our ad specialty customers find it beneficial to buy a heat press so that they can bring their own printing in-house. It can save a lot of money and time for them. If you are interested, you can browse our heat press selection here:

Mary Beth

Do you know how long the screen printed transfers will last in storage before application? Also, how do you recommend these transfers be stored?

We are a small growing company and are looking at having our unique designs created in this manner, but want to be sure they can be store appropriately.

Thank you!

Dealer Services

Hi Mary Beth,
Yes, the transfers can be stored for future use. That is one of the big advantages of screen printed transfers. For optimal performance, transfers should be stored in the plastic they arrive in. Store in a climate controlled environment at room temperature around 68-72 degrees F. Avoid damp areas such as basements, garages or crawl spaces. The box they arrive in also helps for storage with a place to write the contents on the box. As long as your transfers are stored properly, they will last several years.

Eric E

I know there is a super smooth texture to screen-printed transfers because they are printed reversed on paper (Versus the texture you get with traditional screen-printing directly onto the garment). Is there any textured top sheet that can be used while heatpressing to impart a little of that natural texture to the print?

Dealer Services

Hi Eric,
I am not aware of any sheets that will add texture to the transfer. However, we do offer the tip of covering the finished print with a reusable cover sheet and heat press again to get a glossy, retro look.

John Carston

I appreciate that you explained the importance of making sure that the products are well-prepared to prevent production problems. My best friend stated to me last night that he is looking for a custom product screen printing service because he wants to give out custom mugs as freebies and asked if I had any suggestions. Thank you for your educational article, and I’ll be sure to tell him that they can contact a well-known custom product screen printing service as they can help provide more detailed information.


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