Heat transfer printing uses a heat press to transfer a design to objects such as clothing or textiles. Some examples are heat transfer vinyl, commonly used on athletic uniforms, and special effect heat transfers like glow-in-the-dark or reflective designs.
Heat transfer printing is a cost-effective personalization option for businesses in that field. The process is easy to learn and, due to the fast turnaround time, the profit margin is high. The machines are inexpensive and do not take up much floor space. There are three main types of heat transfer machines from which to choose:
- The clamshell heat press opens with a hinge in the back, similar to a clam's shell. The upper piece is heated, and the lower part is where the clothing or other item is placed, awaiting the transfer.
- A swing away press, also known as a swinger, takes up more room than a clamshell press. However, since the upper portion swings away from the lower piece, the user does not have to reach underneath a hot plate as with the clamshell press.
- With a draw press, the lower piece is moveable and the upper portion remains stable. This heat press requires a bit more precision in laying out the textile than the other two, and it takes up more room as well.