T-shirts were the first product we produced. Our first client asked for a rhinestone design on a black ladies’ t-shirt. We did our homework and found the materials to print the shirt before we even had our heat press. We learned how a t-shirt business runs and operates. We decided to go all in with an investment to buy equipment.
The first year of printing shirts was very busy for us. We had continuous orders for custom t-shirts and looked for the best way to produce the transfers.
Heat transfer vinyl
One method is to use heat transfer vinyl. A vinyl cutter scribes a design into Heat Transfer Vinyl. Remove the negative vinyl and then press on a blank t-shirt. This is good for prototypes, and very low quantities. Heat transfer vinyl can be layered on a shirt. Screen-printed transfers work better with larger quantities.
Screen printed transfers
Screen printed heat transfers use silkscreen technology. The transfers contain designs using the special t-shirt inks. We take the paper with the design and place it on the blank t-shirt then use the heat press to fuse it to the t-shirt. We can create transfers in 1-color, t-color or 4-color (full)
Myth: I can use an iron to print a transfer to a t-shirt.
Answer: An iron can indeed reach a desired temperature but will never duplicate the force of a heat press. One part is Heat, the other part is Press. Press = Pressure. The pressure does 80% of the work.
A third method of printing tees we discovered with Direct-to-Garment. A garment printer sprays special fabric inks on the garment. Think of how your ink-jet prints a picture on a piece of paper. Swap out the paper for a t-shirt and use special ink. This process is costly, but the results are photorealistic images on clothing.
A sublimated garment starts out as a white garment. A design is heat-pressed into the garment which dyes the threats, sealing in the color. The advantage of a sublimation garment is that you can print a full coverage design on your garment. The easiest way to explain this is Halloween costumes. All the details of the costume are in the material such as fake muscles, spider webbing, and the wrinkles. Textures on yoga pants, designs on stretchy clothing. This is a product of sublimation.
We can assist with the printing of t-shirts using any of the methods above.
Contact us to get started with your t-shirt order.