Heat transfer paper is used for making specialty T-shirts and caps. Specialty and marketing printing businesses use heat transfer paper to customize their products.
Heat transfer paper is basically a special type of coated paper. Designs can be printed onto the paper and then transferred to clothing. Professional-grade paper requires a heat transfer press to impress the design on the fabric. Craft stores carry average-grade heat transfer paper that works with an iron.
The most popular variety of heat transfer paper is designed for use with ink-jet printers. High-quality transfers are durable and stand up well to repeated washings. Depending on the brand, heat transfers can be peeled from the paper while hot from the heat press, while others must first cool to avoid damage to the transfers. The ink-jet heat transfer paper is easy to print and easy to use. The printers and ink are also less expensive than laser printers and copiers. Many professional T-shirt and printing companies prefer the ink-jet system.
Special types of heat transfer paper are available for “dry resin toner” color laser printers. These leave less of a coating on the fabric than the ink-jet variety. The transfer has a softer feel and still keeps a sharp image. Dry resin toner color laser printers are more expensive, as is the heat transfer paper that works with them. It works with both porous and nonporous material, including fabric, wood, metal, magnetic sheeting and ceramics. Like other paper, this kind can be applied with a standard heat press.
Different heat transfer paper is available for laser printers and copiers that use fuser oil. This heavy-duty heat transfer paper can be used to apply designs to any porous surface, such as fabric, wood and ceramics.
Heat transfer paper can be used to apply images to dark-colored fabrics as well. A special sheeting of white coating can be placed between the fabric and the design. The transfer paper is heated against the special coating, attaching it to the transfer paper. Then the design is transferred to the fabric like before. You must be sure the backing is cut exactly to match the design, or it will show around the edges.
While making crafts at home, a standard iron can be used with some ink-jet transfer paper. It does require a good deal of force applied against the iron to get a good transfer, and most ironing boards are not suitable to use when applying pressure. To get a good transfer, a heat press is the better choice. Heat presses are designed to apply the correct amount of heat and pressure for the required time easily and consistently.