heat press

Heat Pressing Performance Apparel

Decorating Performance apparel can pose a few challenges.  The low scorching point, stretchability of the fabrics, and complex fabric composition has challenged decorators and their suppliers to come up with new techniques and products.

Heat pressing Performance apparel using the incorrect products and methods can lead to scorch marks and poor quality transfers.  However, two products recently introduced can be applied at a low temp and a short dwell time, making them the ideal materials to use.

Spectra Perform Cut is a “Cut-only” Heat Transfer Vinyl that applies at only 280 degrees.  For full color, Spectra Perform is a Solvent or Eco-Solvent printable line of products that can also be applied at 280 degrees.  Both products have a unique adhesive that will adhere to Polyester, Nylon, Lycra and many synthetic blends.  Both also offer tremendous Stretch and Rebound, which will keep the decoration looking great, even after they’ve been stretched out.

If you’ve tried decorating Performance apparel before, but didn’t like the “heat press box” that accompanied your transfer, give one of these new products a try!

 

Understanding Heat Press Accessories

There are a lot of accessories available for your heat press.  Understanding the available accessories, how and when they’re used can have a big impact on your business!

Cover sheets 

Cover sheets are used with almost every heat transfer.  Their purpose is to protect the transfer, material being applied to, and the platen of your press.  Commonly used cover sheets are Reusable Cover Sheets (“Teflon” Sheets), Kraft Paper, and Silicone Cover Sheets.  You can achieve a different effect on some transfers using the different cover sheets.  Reusable cover sheets can add a bit of Gloss, while Kraft Paper and Silicone sheets usually provide a Matte effect.  Reusable cover sheets are the most durable.  If you take care of them, they should last dozens, if not hundreds of presses.  Kraft Paper will usually last 25 – 50 presses and Silicone cover sheets will normally last only a few presses.

Pad Protectors

“Quick Slip” Pad Protectors are made of the same material as Reusable cover sheets.  Their purpose is to protect your lower platen from damage due to an accidental press, reduce wear of the pad on the lower platen, and make it easier to slide your garments on and off the press.  A Quick Slip is a “must” for any heat press owner!

Heat Printing Pillows

Heat Printing Pillows are used to absorb thick seams and neck lines, pockets, and other obstructions.  Pillows are made of very similar materials to the Reusable Cover Sheets, stuffed, and sewn.

Print Perfect Pads

If you have a “hard” obstruction that cannot just be absorbed by the Heat Printing Pillows, or if you need to raise the application area, you’ll want to use a Print Perfect Pad.  Zippers and Buttons are common examples of obstructions that make a nice flat surface area difficult to achieve.  The Print Perfect Pad targets your application area and allows the obstruction to fall to the side and out of your way.

Interchangeable Platens

Hotronix Heat Presses are outfitted with a “quick change” platen, giving you the ability to quickly and easily change out the lower platen that is on your press.  Available Platen sizes are 6″ x 10″, 8″ x 10″, 7″ round, 11″ x 15″, as well as some “specialty” platens, like the Hat Bill Platen, Can Cooler Platen, and Shoe Platen.  Custom made Platens are also available.   The 6″ x 10″ and 8″ x 10″ platens are ideal for smaller application areas, like a left chest application, new born and toddler apparel, or labels.  The 7″ round platen is ideal for the ends of Tote bags and other “hard to get to” areas.  11″ x 15″ is my preferred platen for decorating women’s apparel and any simple “front” applications.  Changing out the platen will make the application process much more production friendly, as well as help to eliminate any ruined garments because of uneven pressure!

All of these (and more!) accessories are available from Imprintables Warehouse.  Click or call today!

How to Create a Custom T-shirt Business

I’m fortunate to work in an industry with very little barrier to entry.  I’m also fortunate to work for a company that has taken the time and devoted the resources to making it as easy as possible to make those barriers even more insignificant.  Many entrepreneurs are drawn to our industry because the start-up costs can be under 1k.

Here’s what you need:

The steps are simple.  After you purchase your vinyl cutter and heat press, you can register a FREE account on CadWorx Live.  Login to CadWorx and find a design.  You have thousands of pieces of Clip art to choose from and hundreds of different templates!  Customize the design with your own text and send the design to your Clipper vinyl cutter.  The Clipper will cut out your design in the Heat Transfer Material of your choice.  Once it’s done cutting and you’ve weeded away the excess material, take the design to your Heat Press and heat apply to your T-shirt!

What makes my industry great is that it is as much fun to make custom shirts for yourself, friends, and family as it is to sell them to your customers!  For under 1k, you can either have a fun hobby (and probably less expensive than my wife’s hobby of shoe collecting) or a legit, profitable business!

How to Price Your Heat Transfer and Sign Jobs

Fair pricing is very tough in our industry.  Competition is fierce!  Shops range from a spare bedroom, to a brick and mortar storefront to a tens of thousands of square foot production facility.  Obviously not everyone will be able to offer the same prices.

Pricing your jobs should be done on a regional basis, not national.  However, people from all over the US and beyond will be reading this article, so it’s difficult for me to be able to recommend pricing and have it be applicable to everyone.  As that is the case, the best i can do is give baseline recommendations.  You will have to work to establish pricing that your local market is willing to pay!  That price may be higher or lower than the pricing I have below.

The recommended pricing I will provide is for a Single Color Shirt (Cadcut), a Digital Shirt (Solvent / Eco-Solvent Print/Cut, DTG), Banner and general Decal.  Single color and Digital Shirt pricing is based on a 4×4 left chest and a full back print.  I’m also included a $3 base garment cost.  Banner is priced per square foot and is fully finished, including Grommets and Hem Tape.  Decal pricing is also priced per square foot and is unlaminated.

Single Color – $12.80

Digital Shirt – $14.73

Banner – $6.30 / sq ft

Decal – $9.27 / sq ft

This recommended pricing is from a national survey we did for our Ultimate Pricing Calculator.  Our Pricing Calculator is a free tool we created to help our customer determine their actual costs and to help calculate profitability of various jobs.

How does this pricing look to you??

 

Heat Transfer, Sign Materials…or Both??

If you have a vinyl cutter, odds are you’re using at least one of Heat Transfer or Sign Materials in your business. If you’re not using both, you’re missing potential profit opportunities! It took us at Imprintables Warehouse a while to realize that. For years, we sold only the Heat Transfer materials, and did quite well at it. Our Spectra Eco-Film is one of the most popular Heat Applied Materials on the market.

Imprintables Warehouse added Duracal 530 to our line up around 2011.  We knew that our customers already had the equipment needed to use the material, we just had to make it available to them!  If you have a vinyl cutter and a heat press and have been working with Heat Transfer materials, you really need to try this material.  I’ve told many customers over the years to include a decal or two with their heat transfer jobs.  The perfect time for this is with a corporate logo or a team sport.  After you cut and apply your logos to your polos or jerseys, put in a roll of sign vinyl and cut the logo again.  When your customer comes in to pick up their order, hand them them decal you’ve created for them as a complimentary gift.  Odds are, you’ll see an order in the near future!!  Your cost is only the few minutes it took you to load the material in and prepare the sample.  Material cost is pennies.

Add on sales are a big business.  Introducing a new product to your existing customers will bring in some extra cash to you and your business!

 

(Another) Heat Press Innovation

Which is your favorite?  The Swing Away or a Draw heat press?  Both have their advantages to you, the consumer.  Would you like the draw action so you can view your work area from any angle?  Or do you prefer the swing away option to completely move the heat?  Odds are, you’ve had jobs where both features would come in handy.  Now what about a fully threadable lower platen?  How many different settings do you have for your various heat transfers?  Wouldn’t it be simple to cycle through them?

If you’re in the business, what is your “dream machine”?  Hotronix has created a press that should be the closest thing.  Introducing the Hotronix Fusion!  The Fusion should offer you everything on your wish list.  Fully threadable platen, check.  Easily to change lower platen, check.  Auto on/off, check.  Touch screen, digital display, check!

Do yourself a favor.  Check out the video and see what this press has to offer your business!!

Creating a Distressed look with a Vinyl Cutter

How much do you incorporate fashion into your vinyl cutter business?  I covered in an earlier post some materials that can add some flair to your apparel.  Another way to make your good more fashionable is to use the latest decorating trends.  I’ve identified the Distressed look as a trend that has been around for a little while but is still very popular.

It may seem like the distressed look would be difficult but it’s really not when you use the right tools.  I sourced two fonts that will make creating the artwork the easy part for a change!  The best to use are Destroy and Gesso.  I’ve selected these two because of the ease of weeding.  There are plenty of distressed fonts available but not all will allow you to weed rather quickly.

Of the two, Gesso is the easier to weed.  Most of the lines and detail will be weeded out on the initial pull.

Destroy has a bit more detail.  Don’t get me wrong, it will take a little more time to weed this design!  However, in my opinion, the end result is the best.

The weeding process for the Gesso font took about a minute longer than it normally would.  This should be factored into your pricing.  Destroy took about 5 minutes longer.  The good news is you don’t have to get all the detail!  It’s distressed so if you leave a few spots behind that should have been weeded it actually adds to the look!

Here’s the end result:

Gesso

Destory

Simply adding a specific font to you design software can add a lot to you business!

Equipment and Materials used: