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What is Heat Transfer?

            Heat transfer is a process that allows you to print an image (could be a favorite photo or design) from the computer onto specially coated paper which is then transferred using heat and pressure to a t-shirt or other receptive items.  Heat transfer provides you the ability to customize apparel, puzzles, mugs and other items in these four simple steps:

  1. Choose the item or substrate (commonly referred to as Imprintables) and the appropriate type of transfer paper for this item and the printer / copier you are using.  
  2. Enhance your photo or design that you will be imprinting on the item using your standard editing program.
  3. Print the photo or design on the Transfer Paperusing the standard ink in the printer or copier.  Most transfer papers require you to print the mirror image of the photo or design.  However, it is important to read the Instructions that are included with every order of paper or visit our Heat Transfer Library.
  4. Place the item and the transfer (print side down) on a Heat Pressand close the heat press from the recommended amount of time, pressure and temperature.  Remove the item and peel the transfer paper from the item.  Some transfer papers can be peeled immediately (hot-peeled) while others must be peeled after the transfer has cooled down (cold peeled).

            The required items to perform this process include a computer, a graphics program, a printer or copier (i.e. color ink jet, color laser printer or color laser copier), heat transfer paperand a heat press machine.   For recommendations as to what type of equipment would best fit for your company, please give us a call at 1-877-777-2624.


Making Money with Heat Transfers

            It is extremely easy to get started with heat transfers and the profits are huge.  For a basic white cotton t-shirt the total cost to produce this item would be under $2.00.  The average selling price for this shirt would sell for $10.00 to $20.00.  Based on these price points, the profit per shirt would be from 500% to 1000%.  The average time to do the shirt would be less than 5 minutes.


            You can sell customized heat transfer items to all types of markets including Little Leagues, club sports, school fundraisers, churches and other community based programs or groups.  You can transfer customized graphics to a wide variety of items including much more than just t-shirts such as puzzles, caps, tote bags, mugs, mouse pads and drink coozies.


What is Heat Applied Vinyls?

            CAD-Materials or Heat Applied Vinyls are generally roll good materials that can be cut on a roll or flat bed vinyl cutter/plotter. They are available in a variety of solid colors as well as glitter, reflective, flock’s and other popular fashions. Generally these materials are cut in reverse or mirrored image. You cut through the heat applied backing without going through the mylar carrier. This leaves your text or logo pre-spaced for easy heat seal application. The process involves four easy steps…

Create It, Cut It, Weed It and Heat It.

1)      Create. Using a graphics program, create or import in the graphic to be cut. (You can use programs such as Corel, Adobe Illustrator, and many popular sign making programs to do this. Note: Any time you purchase a cutter from The Paper Ranch, we will provide you with a basic cutting program at NO CHARGE.)

2)      Cut It. After you have your design on the computer screen you send it to your cutter/plotter just as you would a printer.

3)      Weed It. This process you remove the unwanted areas of the design. Leaving you just your text or logos pre-spaced.

4)      Heat it. Take the pre-spaced, cut design over to your heat press and following the applications instructions for that product. 

           When it comes to heat applied vinyls or films, there is generally a meterial available for most substrates.  Nylon materials require a more aggressive adhesive then a polyester or cotton material.  Lycra requires a materials that will stretch with the fabric.  If you don't see what your looking for, just give us a call at 1-877-777-2624.

           To get started in cutting generally all you need is a cutter, computer and a heat press. There are a few other accessories like application tape, tweezers for weeding and cover sheets, but nothing major. You can always grow into more advanced applications.

Heat Transfer Start Up Package
            Congratulations on your decision to enter the lucrative market of selling customized heat transfer items.  The Paper Ranch has developed strong relationships with the transfer paper mills, heat press manufacturers, ink companies and the other necessary suppliers to provide you a One-Stop Source for all your Heat Transfer needs.  Click here to visit our standard Start Up Packagesor call us at 1-877-777-2624 for a customized start up package. 

Types of Heat Transfer Paper

            Heat transfer papers are specific to the type of machine that will be used to print the paper.  So, ink jet transfer paper is not recommended for use in a laser printer because it could actually harm the printer.  A laser transfer paper will not produce a good transfer when used in an ink jet printer either.


            An ink jet heat transfer paper has a plastic coating, but it also has a special coating which allows the ink jet inks to be absorbed and to dry prior to transferring the image.  It is the combination of these coatings and the ink jet inks that produce the vivid ink jet transfers that are seen today.


            Laser heat transfer papers are very machine specific.  The correct paper is chosen based on the model number of color laser printer or copier.  Models may have vastly different engines which produce varying internal temperatures. The internal temperature of the machine determines which paper will perform best.  Some machines use a fuser oil and some machines use a toner which has the oil in the toner.  Transfer paper is also selected based on this information as well.


            Indigo heat transfer papers are those which have been approved by the HP Indigo testing facilities to perform properly in specific models of these digital presses.  Again, equipment model numbers must be matched up to ensure that the correct paper is selected.


            Two-Step Opaque transfer papersare used when transferring to a very bright or dark colored garment.  When maximum opacity and durability are required, often a two-step process is preferred.  These papers are universal and will work in conjunction with any light fabric ink jet transfer paper and will also work with any light fabric laser transfer paper.  The light fabric transfer paper is printed as it normally would be and then it is pressed together with the two-step opaque product prior to being pressed to the garment.

Types of Heat Presses
            Heat Pressescome in various shapes and sizes that correlate to the various heat transfer products.  All heat presses have some kind of controls to regulate the temperature and the pressure.  The most common type of press is a Flat Platen Heat Press.  This is the type that is used for t-shirts, mouse pads, tote bags, jackets, tiles and basically anything that is flat.  The flat platen presses are available as a Clam Shell style or a Swing Away style.  The clam shell opens and closes like a clam, where the bottom platen is stationery and the top platen moves up and down.  The swing away press opens by lifting up the top platen, but then will move sideways so that it is completely out of the way for ease of placement and removal of shirts etc.

            Products which are not flat require special heat presses.  The most common examples are the Mug press and the Cap press.  Since both the mug and the cap have curved surfaces, the mug and cap presses are designed to configure to the proper curvature of those products, making it easy to embellish those items.


            Depending on the application, the type of press you will need may vary.  The important factors to consider when purchasing a heat press is to think about all the size and thickness of the items you want to produce in the near future and several years in advance.  For example, purchasing a 15” x 15” Clam Shell press will allow you to do heat transfers on most shirts, puzzles, tote bags and similar flat items.  However, you would not be able to do most of the athletic jerseys, large cutting boards and metals require a 16” x 20” or 20” x 25” heat press.  Additionally, some of the thicker items (i.e. sublimation tiles, mouse pads, plaques and other similar items) will require a Swing Away press that will provide uniform press on the item. 


Bulk Ink Systems for Heat Transfer Paper

            When using digital heat transfer papers, special inks or special toners are not mandatory because the transfer paper does most of the work.  So the consumer can choose to use the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) ink that is available at your local office supply store or can purchase secondary market inks from industry suppliers. Caution should be used because not all generic inks are created equally.  Some of these inks are fine for using with standard printing paper, but are not very long lasting when used in the heat transfer process. The Paper Ranch offers a reliable brand of secondary market inksas well as its own brand of transfer inks that have qualities that will enhance your heat transfers. 


            Regardless of the type of ink, it is always more economical to use ink in bulk systems rather than small cartridges.  The savings can be anywhere from 300% to more than 3000%.  However, keep in mind that ink has a life span and needs to be used in a timely fashion. For more information about Bulk Ink Systems, visit our products catalog or call us at 1-887-777-2624.

Information on Cutting Equipment
            Adding a cutter to most businesses just makes sense. For a small investment (approximately $1995.00) you can dramatically expand your in-house capabilities. Heat seal/vinyl cutters save time for the layout process of heat-sealing your names, numbers or logos. Cutters can reduce your cost in half or more if you are out sourcing this part of the process. Cutters give you the ability to “Say Yes” to those short run garment orders without pulling your hair out or paying additional shipping charges. They also allow to “size to the garment”, meaning if you have 6 Medium Youth, 8 Adult Large, 2 Adult XXX Large and a Ladies Small…you can easily adjust the size of the design to match the size of the shirt. You can cut the desired size without separate Set Up or Digitizing cost as with screen printing or embroidery.

              When deciding on a cutter to purchase, here are a few purchasing decisions to look at are: Application, size needed, support, software compatibility, and volume to be cut. Generally, most Heat Applied Vinyls and CAD-Materials are sold in 15”-24” inches in wide rolls, so a 24” cutter is suitable and the most popular in our industry. All of the cutting equipment offered by The Paper Ranch can cut: Sign Vinyl, Heat-Seal/CAD-Materials, Reflective, Flocks, Pressure Sensitive Twills, Sandblast materials, Rubylith, our Heat Seal Transfer Papers and much more! The Paper Ranch offers cutters from 10”-104” in width that operate at a variety of speeds and down force cutting capabilities. The Paper Ranch offers lifetime phone and web support for any equipment purchased from us*. Free “hands-on” training is available to anyone who purchases equipment from us and schedules a visit at our state-of-art training facility in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Heat Transfer Information & Instructions

Below are links to information and instructions are for our products.  All instructions are in printable pdf files and can be easily saved to your computer.  Please contact our Technical Support Department at 877-777-2624 or via email at Additionally, please visit our Tips and Tricks Blog to learn some new techniques and common challenges companies like your’s face everyday.

Inkjet Transfer Papers
     - ImageJet Lite 2 (Inkjet transfer paper for application to light colored or white cotton or 50/50 fabrics)
     - ImageJet Dark 2 (inkjet transfer paper for application to dark colored or dark cotton or 50/50 fabrics)
     - Inkjet Glow in the Dark Transfer (Inkjet transfer paper for light garments that glows in the dark)
     - Dazzle Trans (Super high glosssecond step release paper)

Laser Transfer Papers
     - Photo Trans Image Clip
(A revolutionary self weeding laser transfer paper for use in all Laser Printers/Copiers)
     - Photo-Trans + (The industry leading transfer paper for light fabric and garments for most Canon and Xerox CLCs)
     - Photo-Trans SC (The premier Indigo grade transfer paper)
     - Dura-Trans (Transfer paper for use in some laser machines as well as Alps printers)
     - Techni-Print (Transfer paper for transfer to light fabric for Laser Printers without fusing oil)
     - Mugs n' More (Transfer paper for application to hard substrates coated for Laser Transfers)
     - Laser 1 Opaque (Commercial grade laser transfer paper to dark fabrics for use in most CLCs)

Two-Step Transfer Papers
2 Step Universal Opaque

Bulk Ink Hardware Instructions
     - Epson 1280 Heat Transfer Bulk Ink System

     - Epson C84 / C86 Bulk Ink Hardware Instructions

Specialty Materials Brochures & Instructions

     -        2005 Specialty Materials Full Catalog

     -         ColorPrint™ Brochure

     -         ColorPrint™ Application Instructions

     -         DecoFilm™ & DecoFlock™ Brochure

     -         DecoSparkle™ Brochure

     -         DecoGlitter™ and DecoSparkle™ Brochure

     -         Ref-lite™ Reflective Heat Transfer Film Brochure

     -         Glitterflex™  Brochure

     -         ThermoFlex® Universal and ThermoFlex® Xtra Brochure

     -         ThemoBanner™ Brochure

     -         EZ-Weed Instructions


George Knight Heat Press Instructions

-         Programming Digital Knight Presses

-         Digital Controller Instructions

-         Upgrading to a Digital Controller Display


Clamshell Press from George Knight Presses

-         Digital Clamshell Presses Overview 

-         Digital Clamshell Press 14 x 16 

-         Digital Clamshell Press 16 x 20 

-         Digital Clamshell Press 14 x 16 & 16 x 20 Manual 


Swing Away Press from George Knight

-         Digital Swing Presses Overview  

-         Digital Combo Swing Away Press 

o       Digital Combo Swing Away Press Manual  

-         Digital Automatic Swing Press 16 x 20 

o       Digital Automatic Swing Press 16 x 20 

-         Digital Swing Press 16 x 20 

o       Digital Swing Press 16 x 20 Manual 


Automatic Presses from George Knight

-         Digital Automatic Swing Press 16 x 20 

o       Digital Automatic Swing Press 16 x 20 

-         Digital Twin Station Shuttle Embossing Press

-         Digital 16 x 20 Shuttle AirPro Press 


Economy Presses from George Knight

-         Economy Clamshell Presses Overview 

-         9 x 12 JetPress 12 Brochure 

o       9 x 12 JetPress 12 Manual

o       12 x 14 JetPress 14 Manual 


Oversized Heat Presses from George Knight

-         MaxiPress Oversized Press Brochure 

o       MaxiPress Oversized Press Features 

o       MaxiPress Oversized Press Manual 

-         TRITON Large Format Air Operated Heat Transfer Press  

o       TRITON Large Format Air Operated Heat Press Features 


Specialty Heat Press from George Knight

-         18 x 20 Digital Tile Master Swing Away Press 

-         Digital Mug Press 

-         Digital Cap Press & Label Press Manual 


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