Thermal transfer is an ever-improving printing method that is gaining more and more new satisfied supporters every year. Thermal transfer may also be called indirect screen printing, transfer screen printing or screen thermal transfer. Printing with this technology involves first printing an intermediate material in a mirror image (this can be paper or film) and then transferring the image to the target garment. All right, but why use thermal transfer at all, why generate additional costs by printing on foil or paper first? When is this printing profitable and on which materials does it work best?
What is thermal transfer?
Thermal transfer, indirect printing, thermal transfer printing, screen printing, plastisol transfer - there are many terms for this printing name in the industry, which may confuse a potential customer. However, they all refer to the same method, which is screen printing transfer. This method involves printing graphics using screen printing on an intermediate support. This may be a specially coated paper or a foil resistant to high temperature. The printing is carried out with the use of plastisol paints, which do not contain formaldehydes, phthalates or PVC and are therefore completely environmentally friendly. In our company we use the best inks on the market, which guarantee colour fidelity according to PANTONE colour chart.
In the next phase, after printing on an intermediate medium, the whole image is covered with a white coating (if we want to achieve strong coverage), or a colourless transparent base. Next, a layer of transfer adhesive is applied, in the form of powder or print. Now, the whole sheet is heated in an appropriate temperature, so that the glue gels, hardens and dries. Thus prepared sheet is ready for individual application (by the customer) or for professional application in our company.
Why choose thermal transfer?
There are print jobs for which thermal transfer is the only marking option. These are, for example, prints on all kinds of baseball caps, backpacks or other items of clothing which, due to the location of the print, are difficult to place on e.g. screen printing machines. Thermal transfer is also recommended for small prints of logos, graphics and images to be placed on various types of clothing. In this way we can significantly reduce the costs of an order, without incurring additional charges for the preparation of multiple screens and matrices for different parts of the garment.
- Use on various textile substrates and in difficult locations
- Possibility to reduce costs of template preparation by printing several logos on one transfer medium format
- High accuracy of print detail
- Possibility to print very small details
- The quality of the final substrate does not affect the print reproduction
- High durability and flexibility of the print.
- Very good coverage of the transferred print
- Satin look
- Need to print on intermediate media
- Not economically viable for large print sizes (above A3)
- Additional costs of the transfer application
Is thermotransfer worth it?
In short, thermal transfer is economically viable for larger print runs (over 50 pieces). Its advantage is that it is sold by the sheet, so the more designs that fit on one sheet, the cheaper the price of a single print in the end.