Printing on heat transfer paper is easy. Choosing which paper and getting a great result can be hard. In this post we will explore transfer paper. We will go over best tips, tricks, and things to avoid. This guide will help you choose the right transfer paper for your project. As always, this site helps you get the most from your printer. Which will ultimately lead to the best results for your project. For copy paper or choosing which paper check out this guide.
This paper can be broken down to two major types: direct and indirect transfer. One kind transfers the ink to the material. While the other kind transfers a sheet to the material with the image on top. Yet both use heat to transfer the image. Ink will cure at 160° C (320° F). Toner will cure at 190°C (374°).
The direct transfer paper needs an inkjet printer. For indirect transfer paper, either ink or toner can be printed on top of the transfer sheet. Then that sheet, image and all, is transferred.
Benefits of Each Type
One type may be better suited than the other for your project. If you have an inkjet printer you can use either type. A laser printer will use the indirect transfer paper. The indirect transfer paper for laser and inkjet printers tends to work well with heavy images. There is no loss of ink or toner during the transfer process therefore the image retains its original quality. This type also works well for colored or uneven textured material. But with the indirect transfer paper there is an extra step of trimming away the excess around the image.
The direct transfer paper for inkjet printers is best suited for white t-shirts or uniform material. Most inkjet printers will not have white ink. Any white parts of the image will be made by the white material the image is being transferred to. Photos will transfer with the direct transfer type but be sure to print with the highest quality settings. Then print in mirror mode so the final product is not backwards. I would not recommend using this type with burlap or other coarse heavy materials.
Choosing a Type
The important factors of any project is the image, material, and printer. Your printer and material may steer your project to a certain type. Still text and simple graphics will work well with either type. White t-shirts or sweatshirts will work for either type. Coarse or dark colored material should use the indirect transfer paper.
Another factor for the image being transferred id its overall shape and density. Does the image have a lot of small parts that would require a lot of trimming or aligning with the indirect transfer paper? Are there minute dots that might be absorbed in the material with the direct transfer type? If the right choice doesn’t jump out at you get both types and see which turns out best. You can always find a use for the leftovers.
This type directly transfers the ink from your printer onto the material. An inkjet printer is required. Iron or heat press to transfer is also required. Don’t forget the final touch.
This kind prints the image on top of a sheet which is then ironed on to the material. Works with laser as well as an inkjet printer. Iron or heat press is required for transfer. Don’t forget the final touch.
Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices
Be sure to read the directions specifically for you transfer paper. They may have a specific temperature or time required for your type. Still these tips, tricks, and best practices apply to any heat transfer.
Practice makes perfect. Test on an old t-shirt if you’re unsure or need more practice.
Once you have the transfer done you want to keep it looking new. I would avoid vinegar to cure or set the transfer. It tends to break down ink and toner. Instead I would use a water repellent spray designed for clothes such as one like this:
This will work for either type of transfer. Most inkjet transfers to clothes fade after the first washing. Use this hydrophobic spray before washing your transfer to prevent it from fading. In addition to spraying it on top be sure to spray it in the inside. This will protect the back of the image.
It also works to seal toner transfers and make them last longer.
Ideas for Projects
Making transfer paper crafts is one of the fun uses for a printer. In case you need some help planning transfer paper projects, here are a few recommendations.
We hope this has given you ideas or inspiration for your projects. As well as guide you from start to finish for your transfers.
The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes over 23 years. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them. I have certificates from Canon, Xerox. Ricoh, Kyocera, Lexmark, HP, and Konica Minolta. My experience includes other brands as well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.