When it comes to applying graphic images onto substrates, such as T-shirts, caps, or tote bags, a heat press machine and a vinyl cutting machine are the two most commonly used tools. If you’re looking to produce items in bulk (perhaps you’re filling an order of T-shirts for uniforms, a fundraiser, or you are just have a graphic image that’s incredibly popular), the heat press method is the preferred option.
A heat press machine produces large quantities of graphic images on substrates in a short period of time; plus, the transferred images are durable and long-lasting. But, in order to produce the highest quality results, you need to understand exactly how to use your heat press machine. There are three basic principles that apply to printing graphics onto a garment with a heat press: temperature, time, and pressure. The machine has to be set to the proper values before you can print a graphic image onto a garment. If there’s even the slightest mistake in any of these three values, your image will not be transferred properly.
In this guide, we’ll review the proper time and temperature that you should set your heat press to in order to achieve the desired results.
Time and Temperature Settings
A heat press machine can be equated to an oven and a garment as the item that you’re baking. To achieve the best results, you’ll need to adjust the settings on your heat press machine, much like you would need to adjust the settings on your oven to back your confections to perfection.
Typically, temperature settings and time are directly related. Additionally, these settings vary for light colored and dark colored textiles. Generally, lighter colored materials require a lower temperature (around 330 degrees), while darker fabrics should be transferred at a higher setting (360 degrees). For both colors, the recommended time setting is usually 25 seconds or less. However, these values may not apply to all garments, as there are multiple factors that need to be taken into consideration; the type of fabric and the look you wish to create, for example.
With that said, here’s a basic overview of the time and temperature that your heat press should be set to in order to for different types of fabrics and results.
For polyester materials, low temperature settings are recommended; 270 degrees and 10 seconds should yield the best results.
Your heat press should be set to a higher temperature for cotton fabrics than it should for polyester fabrics; 380 degrees for around 15 seconds will offer prime results.
If you’re transferring bold colored graphic images, you’ll get the highest quality results when you set your heat press to 300 degrees for 10 seconds.
For a faded look, set your heat press to 350 degrees for 10 seconds. The printed graphic will have a vintage-inspired look.
If you want to apply a graphic image onto a stretchy fabric, such as spandex or Lycra, try setting your heat press to 330 degrees for 15 seconds.
Glow in the Dark
What’s cooler than turning off the lights and seeing your garments glow? You can totally achieve these results with your heat press machine by setting it to 300 degrees for 12 seconds.
Want to apply a sparkly, glittery graphic image to your garment? Set your heat press to 350 degrees for 15 seconds and should get fantastic results.
For prints that you would like to have a metallic-like finish, set your heat press to 320 degrees for approximately 10 seconds and your image should have a nice sheen to it.
Printing an image that needs to reflect in the light? Adjust the temperature of your heat press to 305 degrees for 10 seconds.
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