Heat Transfer

What is Heat Transfer Printing?

Heat transfer printing is a method of applying designs to garments and other substrates using heat-applied materials. In this process, a design is printed onto special heat transfer paper using solvent ink. This design is then transferred from the paper to the garment using heat and pressure, typically with a heat press machine. The heat causes the ink to bond to the fabric, resulting in a vibrant and durable print.

History of Heat Transfer Printing

Heat transfer technology has been around since the 1970s, originally developed to create designs on ceramics and hard goods. As the technology evolved, it became popular for garment decoration, particularly for customizing t-shirts and other apparel. The advent of digital printing technologies significantly boosted the capabilities of heat transfer printing, allowing for more detailed and color-rich designs.

Heat Transfer in the Real World

Many companies and small businesses use heat transfer printing to produce customized apparel for events, promotional activities, and retail. For example, companies like Stitchi offer online platforms where individuals can create custom designs that are printed using heat transfer techniques. This method is also favored by small businesses for its low setup costs and the feasibility of small production runs.

Heat Transfer Process

Design Creation

A design is created using graphic design software and printed onto heat transfer paper. This paper is specially coated to hold the ink and release it under heat.

Cutting and Weeding

In some types of heat transfer, like vinyl heat transfer, the design is cut from a solid vinyl sheet and the excess vinyl is weeded (removed) from the design.


The garment is pre-pressed to remove moisture and wrinkles, ensuring a clean surface for the transfer.


The design on the transfer paper is placed on the garment, and a heat press is used to apply heat and pressure. The heat transforms the ink into a gas (sublimation) and embeds the design into the fabric.


After pressing, the heat transfer paper is peeled away, and the garment may undergo a post-press to smooth and set the design.


The final product is inspected for quality and imperfections before being packed and shipped or sold.


Heat transfer printing is a versatile and accessible method for producing high-quality, customized prints on various materials. It is particularly effective for detailed designs and small batch productions. Whether you're looking to create personalized gifts, uniform branding, or promotional items, heat transfer printing offers a practical solution for a wide range of applications.

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