A common misconception amongst Garment Decorators is the decorating method commonly known as “CAD-Cut” is using a Vinyl based material. While that may have been true a few years ago, Heat Applied Vinyls, as they’re still known, have come a long way.
There are still a few true Vinyls out there. For the most part, however, the transfer material that you purchase from your supplier (hopefully me) is probably a Polyurethane based Film material. Why does this matter to you? The materials that are still considered to be vinyls are PVC based. PVC based films are typically a bit cheaper than their PU based counterparts. The key word there is Cheaper.
A PVC based film will be fine for most one-color applications onto cottons, polyesters or cotton/poly blends. You will have a bit of a stiffer hand initially and also after washing. PVC’s tend to stiffen up over time. True Vinyl materials should not be recommended for multi-color applications where the colors are layered one on top of the other. Over time, PVC based materials will separate from each other. I don’t think anyone wants to see an angry customer come into their shop with a couple numbers in their hands instead of on the garment where they belong.
Polyurethane based Films are a much more durable application. They are typically quite a bit thinner and have a much softer hand. When used as a one-color job, today’s films rival the look and feel of a Screen Print. If you’re a Screen Printer, you may be able to see the difference, but odds are your customer won’t be able to. Multi-color applications are bonded permanently, just as a single color would be. PU Films can also act as a base color for a PVC if you choose.
When choosing your “Heat Applied Vinyl” supplier, be sure to ask if the material that you’re going to receive is PVC or Polyurethane based. Not knowing what you’re working with can lead to trouble down the road.
The Spectra Eco-Film that I represent with Imprintables Warehouse is a Polyurethane based material. Free samples and color swatches can be requested simply by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with you’re contact info. PVC based materials are also available for comparison. If you’d like to see the differences between the materials, just email me and let me know.