Heat Printing Tips to Avoid Seams
Heat printing custom apparel with transfers is a great way to print t-shirts, hoodies, bags, sweats, jackets, caps, etc. Unless you’re printing on the front of a t-shirt, however, you’re bound to run into some sort of seam, pocket, zipper, button or other obstruction while printing. This can make your print job a little more difficult or complex. Don’t worry, though. We will show you several ways to overcome these printing challenges.
Have you heard us use the term threading before and wondered what we’re talking about? When we say to thread the heat press, or that our heat presses have threadability™, we are simply meaning that you can “dress” your heat press lower platen. When you thread a shirt or other apparel, you would turn the shirt upside down so that you can put the bottom over the press so the lower platen goes in between the layers of the shirt.
Threading apparel can be an advantage by helping to avoid certain areas that can be tricky to lay flat on the t-shirt press. Just try to leave the tricky areas hanging off the platen. This is a quick and easy way to try first. Depending on what you are printing, this may be your solution. If you have a Hotronix® or Maxx® Clam style press, our Heat Press Caddie Stand™ and Counter Caddie™ will help make your heat press threadable.
To make threading easier and faster, try a Quick Slip Pad Protector. It is a cover that slips over your lower platen. It serves to protect your lower platen pad from wear and tear, but it also helps slide your apparel around much easier as well. It has a more slippery surface which allows adjusting your apparel very quickly without it getting caught on the rubber pad of your press.
If you are doing t-shirt fronts, and then also printing on the back, such as names and numbers, threading your heat press can help speed up the process, too. A Quick Slip Pad Protector will help in this scenario tremendously. Thread your shirt, print the front and then just spin the shirt to the back side without ever taking the shirt off the press! All you have to do is slide it from the front around to the back. It’s quick and easy, saving you the time of removing the shirt and putting it back onto the heat press.
Quick Change Platens
Sometimes the apparel you are printing is too small to thread over your heat press platen. In this case, it is wise to invest in a set of Quick Change Platens. These are exactly what the name says: a lower heat press platen that you can swap out quickly and easily. On the newer versions of the Hotronix and Maxx heat presses, this is simply done by turning a pin or handle to unlock the platen, and lifting the platen up. Put in the platen size you wish to use, and turn the pin or handle to lock the platen in place.
Printing on bags and other apparel that has a smaller print area with many seams is so easy to print with a smaller platen. Just lay it flat and you’re ready to print! Sometimes a shirt or bag has an awkward area to try to get around. With many types of platen sizes and shapes, there is a platen for almost any print job, including shoes, can coolers, and hat bills.
Print Perfect Pad
When threading your heat press or changing your platen just doesn’t cut it, there is also another solution. Using a Print Perfect Pad will help you raise your print area to avoid printing obstructions. This is a sturdy pad like your heat press pad on the lower platen itself. There are different sizes available for printing sleeves and other awkward shapes.
Your computer mouse pad will also work, too! Mouse pads are pretty inexpensive and can be purchased blank at wholesale. Having multiple on hand can be useful so when you need to cut up the pad to fit it for a specific job, you will have extras and are not ruining your Print Perfect Pads.
It is good to note here, that you do not want to use any sort of pillow for heat printing with screen printed transfers. Pillows do not allow for even pressure like the Print Perfect Pads do, and they also take away valuable heat needed for proper application. You also do not want to cover your transfers with a Teflon cover sheet or a flexible application pad with screen printed transfers. These take away even more of your heat. For a consistent and reliable application of your screen printed transfers, time, temperature and pressure are the key elements to a good application every time. For best results, follow your instructions that came with your transfers. Do not add any other components or leave any steps out.
Even though it is named a cap press, this type of heat press can be used for more than just caps. Because of the design and shape of both the top and lower platens, it can make printing some items much easier. Sleeves, inside shirt tags, and other items are a breeze using a cap press.
When you are printing custom apparel, you will frequently run into printing issues with seams, zippers, collars, pockets and other obstructions that do not allow you to have a flat printing surface. In these cases, it is important to have several options available for printing any type of job. Having the proper tools and equipment is half the battle. When you have the tools you need, you can choose which option is best for a particular job. That way you can do it quickly and easily without the costly mistakes.