The 4 Heat Printing Accessories You Should Never Use with Screen Printed Transfers

With all of the different decorating techniques for printing decorated apparel, it’s tough to keep products, equipment, supplies and accessories straight! What’s good for one type of printing isn’t necessarily good for the other.

Heat printing is in its own ball game and there’s now a ton of different players in the game, from heat transfer vinyl to digital print transfers, to screen printed transfers. Each product with their own best uses, application instructions and accessories that can be used to heat print them without causing problems.

For screen printed transfers in particular, because that’s what we specialize in, it’s important to know which accessories are NOT recommended to use during heat printing. Not because we don’t think these accessories aren’t amazing for their intended use, but because they can cause serious problems with your finished apparel decoration if you’re using screen printed transfers. And we want your prints to be long lasting, quality decorations for your customers!

So here they are, the 4 Heat Printing Accessories to Never Use with Screen Printed Transfers.

6Mil Non-Stick Cover Sheet

6mil non-stick cover sheets shouldn’t be used with screen printed transfers

Another accessory that is often misused with screen printed transfers is a cover sheet. Unless otherwise noted in the application instructions, you will not want to use any type of cover sheet.

Screen printed transfers are printed on a special release paper, which acts as a cover sheet during application. The only time you would want to use a cover sheet, is if our instructions specifically say to use one.

A cover sheet, especially thick 6Mil non-stick, Teflon style sheets, are designed to protect your apparel by reducing the amount of heat that reaches your apparel. Some of these thicker sheets can reduce the temperature by as much as 20-25 degrees. Reducing the application by 20-25 degrees will not give you the proper temperature needed to apply that type of transfer.

If you are applying multiple transfers, you would also want to use a cover sheet. When you are applying a transfer to an already applied area, and an area that you previously applied is not covered, that would need to be covered or else the heat press platen will ruin that area.

We do sell cover sheets that can be used in these cases. You can also use a thin paper cover sheets such as Kraft paper from Stahls’.

Flexible Application Pad

Silicone flexible application pads are used in heat printing to protect heat sensitive fabrics from scorching at high temperatures. This is great product for heat transfer vinyl application but is a recipe for disaster with screen printed transfers.

Like the 6mil cover sheets above, they cause a lot of heat loss to your ink and adhesive on your transfer.

So before you reach for your 6mil cover sheet or flexible application pad, remind yourself that thick cover sheets are a NO NO for screen printed transfer application!

Upper Platen Covers

Top Platen covers are not recommended with screen printed transfers

Heat press platen covers are available in bottom platen covers and upper platen covers and are great for keeping your heat press clean. Bottom platen covers also help slide your apparel easily around on your platen, while top platen covers eliminate your need of putting a cover sheet over your shirt at each pressing if using other decorating methods like heat transfer vinyl.

Like the 6mil cover sheet and flexible application pad addressed above, if a heat barrier is placed between the heating element and the ink transfer, you will see a reduction of temperature that is reaching your ink and adhesive on your screen printed transfer.

This is why it is not recommended to use an upper platen cover or silicone upper platen cover during heat printing of screen printed transfers.

Heat Printing Pillows

When using screen printed transfers, you will want to avoid using a pillow. While pillows may be ok to use with vinyl, it is not true for screen printed transfers. This creates uneven pressure, which is a key ingredient.

This is, perhaps, one of the most common mistakes made. You should never use a pillow during the application of Transfer Express products! Our products require three things from your heat press: time, temperature, and pressure. Those are the three things that make a transfer do it’s magic. A pillow is soft and squishy and actually absorbs some of the pressure your heat press creates. This means your transfer doesn’t get the proper amount of pressure and could be under applied. If you need to raise your surface area, use something firm like a mouse pad or Print Perfect Pad.

If you need some tips on how to heat print while avoiding seams and obstructions from causing your print area so be uneven be sure to check this out! Heat Printing Tips to Avoid Seams

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 6 comments

Pressure and heat are important but the only way I can get the transfers on moisture wicking material without platen marks and scorching is to use a pillow. Other recommendations?

Dealer Services

Mar, make sure you’re using the right transfer type for the material. It sounds like whatever you’re trying to press is applying at too high of a temperature for the material. At the top of the blog, you’ll see a link for our Transfer Selector tool. That will walk you through 3-4 questions and recommend the proper transfer type for what you’re pressing on. A lot of times, people default to Goof Proof because it’s easy and it’s what they know, but the temp is too high for performance wear. Hope that helps. If not, give us a call.

MaryBeth Dearie

I’m having an issue with my heat press in that there is a “box” on the apparel after I press. It looks like an outline of the platen. Hotronix is telling me to use a pillow and you are saying to never use a pillow. Any suggestions?

Dealer Services

Hi MaryBeth,
The “box” can be happening for a couple different reasons. Sometimes the apparel carries a lot of moisture and once the material is pressed, the moisture is removed. This can make the fabric appear a little darker where that happened. The box will go away once the apparel regains the moisture within the fabric again.
The other reason for the box is that you may be scorching the fabric. This typically will happen with heat sensitive fabrics such as 100% polyester. In these cases, make sure to use a transfer type that applies at a lower temperature.

Alexandra Frangos

Hi There,

I bought a heat press which came with a silicone like piece to it that can be removed. Is this considered a “pillow”, or a “flexible pad”? I used instructions for goof proof screen print on a 50/50 blend sweater, but after one wash the white ink on the sand color sweater seemed to bleed. There is now a white shadow/bleeding around the design. Is this because I should have taken the silicone part off?

I also pressed it for the instructed time and heat for 6 seconds without cover sheet, and then pressed again with the cover sheet for another 5 seconds. Was I not suppose to do that with the goof proof prints? I’m just trying to figure out why this happened and I can’t seem to find an answer through my research. I did order my prints fro transfer express.

Thank you so much for your help in advance!

Dealer Services

Heat presses come with a silicone pad that is on the bottom metal platen that sits under the t-shirt. This is typically not removable and should remain. With Goof Proof and the off brand press you should have been at 375, adding the 10 degrees for an import noted on the directions and press for 4-6 seconds peeling hot. When you close the press you don’t want anything to be blocking the heat from the top plated from reaching the transfer on the shirt. After pressing, lift the press and peel hot. No second application is needed and this could cause over curing of the ink. Also be sure you have a good medium pressure of 6-8. If your press does not have a pressure read out, a quick test is to put single dollars on a blank shirt laying on your press. Position one in each corner so that half is on the shirt, and half will extend outside the press when you close it. When you do close it, you should not easily be able to remove those dollar bills. If you can, adjust the pressure and try again. Your finished apparel will last at least 50 wash/dry cycles.


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