March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 5 M A RC H PRINTWEAR | 93 Inkjet papers come in two types for light and dark shirts. (Im- age courtesy Stahls') lettering or graphics, you may want to purchase a cutter, which generally starts around $400, but an optical eye cutter costs $800 or more. Keep in mind that the hand of inkjet transfers tends to be heavier with a papery feel. Durability is also a problem. Inkjet transfers may show wear after only 15 wash- es, depending on how they're washed. For the most part, inkjet transfers are best suit- ed for low-volume orders and applications where the garment will not be subjected to frequent laundering or abrasive use. LASER TRANSFERS Similar to inkjet transfers, laser transfers use a laser printer, off-the-shelf toner, and specialty laser transfer paper. The image is printed in reverse and applied to fabric with a heat press. For proper fusion, you need a laser printer specifically designed for printing transfers, and the drum roll and toner should be com- patible, as well. You also need a heat press. Again, a cutter isn't necessary, but if used, it should have optical eye registration. These transfers can be applied to a vari- ety of fabrics, including cotton and cotton/ polyester. However, they're not suitable for hard goods or substrates. Like inkjet pa- pers, laser transfer papers are available for light or dark garments in a range of qual- ity levels. Light-colored garments require clear paper, and dark-colored garments need opaque paper. Self-weeding papers are available, as well. This paper pulls away only the design from the carrier sheet, so there's no white box around the design. With the right set- up, self-weeding papers are easier to work with because you can print the transfer, flip it over, and press it onto the shirt. Af- ter pulling up the carrier sheet, only the design is left. These printers often start at $1,000 and require an investment in initial setup and testing. Typically, startup costs are $800 and up. Laser printing produces a smooth- er, better-looking transfer print with a softer hand than inkjet transfers; however, laser transfers still have a papery feel and lack the softness and washability of other transfers. Laser transfers are a good option if you already have the right printer or the bud- get to buy a new laser printer, which can also be used for regular paper. Durability is slightly better than inkjet transfers, but this type of transfer generally falls into the same application categories.

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