Can You Start A Custom Printed Apparel Business With Heat Transfers?

Many people get the notion that they can start a printed tee shirt business using only a heat press with computer printed heat transfers. This is a common question I get asked on my website and I finally decided to address this topic with a closer look.

There are ways of making money with heat transfer processes. It is just a matter of either finding your niche or using the right transfer process. It is very risky and difficult to start a garment business with computer generated heat transfers. They are just not capable of producing the high quality results that demanding consumers are looking for. The computer printed, heat transfer style garment is best suited for novelty and point of sale situations. In these instances the customer is willing to settle for less of a product for the convenience of immediate satisfaction and/or memorabilia.

And in that very sector the direct to garment digital printer is becoming the latest standard with cutting edge technology that allows the computer to print the image directly onto the garment. Referred to as DTG or Direct To Garment Printing, this process is advancing fast and is capable of printing dark colored garments as well as the light colored shirts that ordinary computer printed heat transfers are limited to.

You may be able to find certain niches with computer printed heat transfers in which you can actually make some decent money. Some people do sublimation mugs and make a great side income for themselves. Your product line may include but is not limited to tiles, “dog tags”, license plates, ceramic mugs, light switch covers, clipboards, hardboard tiles, tote bags, plaques, neckties, travel mugs, ornaments, pet tags, business card holders, name badges, coasters, clocks and of course mouse pads.

For tee shirts the easiest way to achieve the best results with the least expense and without having to screen print yourself is to have plastisol transfers printed of the designs you wish to sell. All you have to do is stock the plastisol transfers and the blank shirts. Then press them as you get orders. You will be able to do whites, blacks or any color garment as well as most any style of garment. You can even have them made for baseball caps if you have a cap heat press. The plastisol heat transfer is the next best thing to screen printing without all of the costs and labor. I know of no other heat transfer process which can achieve the same results as screen printing except for plastisol heat transfers.

The only drawback is that you have to have your designs printed and stocked ahead of time. You would also have to stock all the various garments you wish to offer. Then you can press the plastisol heat transfers with a standard heat press at the time of sale. But I think this option is the best and least expensive method of breaking into the printed apparel industry without the risk of ruining your name and reputation using inferior computer generated heat transfers.

It is always best to do your research. Don’t let start up heat transfer business companies persuade you into a process that they will promise you it can do what screen printing can do. Sadly, that is most often not the case. There is a lot of good information on the internet about heat transfers, but there is also a lot of bad information. Just take the time to learn all about your options when considering starting a custom printed garment business.

To learn more about heat transfers, please visit the Transfer Articles section of the Catspit website.Learn how to screen print with Catspit Productions!

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27 Responses to Can You Start A Custom Printed Apparel Business With Heat Transfers?

  1. shishir khan says:

    nice one ………thanks

  2. deon says:

    nice article….can you suggest a good printer to start with?

  3. 網路行銷 says:

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about information and love learning more on this. If possible,it is very helpful for me.

    • It is my pleasure to help out & share information. I’m glad you like the post. Check out the websites’ Transfer Articles section for more info on heat transfers. Good luck, thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. suffee says:

    please let me know to make heat transfers to be transferred on to Lanyards. Mostly I need to transfer text like company name so on. Is there any textile ink which are non cure, so I can screen print them on transfer paper and then heat transfer from my heat press. Coz the curing machine is very expensive in my country

    • Plastisol transfers are only semi cured. You could use a flash cure unit or something of that nature to semi cure them. Then the heat press will finish the cure during the pressing. But printing and curing your own plastisol heat transfers can be tricky especially with the adhesive powders. And there are plastisol inks made specifically for printing heat trasnfers too. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. jonas0209 says:

    I’m actually doing my own research right now cause I’ll be starting my customized shirt business and this is a great help.I would definitely visit your site more often. I just have a there something u could recommend what to use so dat my designs would last longer like final coating or something ? thank you so much.

    • I don’t think there is much I can tell you about making the transfer last longer other than application. Using a heat press and making sure the application of the heat transfer is ideal will do the most for quality and longevity. I don’t know of any post treatments for digital heat transfers. Thanks for checking out my blog and enjoy the website! Thanks for the comment too!

  6. Dhanraj Gaikwad says:

    It’s awesome to have all information about printing under 1 website … its realy helpful …im enjoying reading your articles …
    I was just wondering about the rubber printing on t-shirt . what is that all about ?
    And also i would like to know more about plastisol heat transfer .. is just same like we have to print on same transfer paper with plastisol inks ? ? if yes wch printer can carry plastisol inks ?

    Sorry for asking many questions … 🙂 But i desperately want to know more about this ..

    Thanks again

    • Thanks, I’m glad you like the website. Make sure to check out all the videos on YouTube too. I’m not sure what you mean by rubber printing. But plastisol heat transfers are screen printed with plastisol inks on a special heat transfer paper. You cannot make a plastisol heat transfer with a computer. You can visit this section of the website to learn more about heat transfers:

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and reading. I appreciate the comment too. Good luck

  7. Dhanraj Gaikwad says:

    Hello …

    I have a confusion .. Sublimation heat transfer have different type of transfer paper ?
    and is it good for starter like me ? to start with ? instead of plastisol transfer ?

    Thank You

    • Sorry for the delay in my reply, didn’t get the message for this or something… Yes, plastisol heat transfers are very different from sublimation transfers. I think plastisol transfers are the best because they look the most like screen prints and can be pressed onto light and dark tee shirts. Sublimation will only work on white shirts.

  8. Dhanraj Gaikwad says:

    and just like inkjet transfer paper .. sublimation transfer will also leave a adhesive where there’s no white inside the design .. i mean if its transparent ?

    • Sorry for the delay in my reply, didn’t get the message for this, stupid blog.… Nope, sublimation will not leave any adhesive down because there is none. It works differently and is “self weeding” in the way it transfers to the shirt. The dye actually sublimates as a gas into the polyester fabrics. That’s the other thing with sublimation, 50/50 or polyester white tee garments only. You can’t do 100% cotton or anything dark.

  9. Matt says:

    Computer or digitally printed heat transfers will last longer than the garment they are printed on…. with a few caveats.
    1) choose the best quality transfer paper
    2) INK! you need “pigment ink”! regular printer ink is water based and will not last.
    3) a quality heat press, with even temps throughout Platen, one that holds correct temp
    4) when finished, poor laundering is the biggest “killer” of inkjet printed transfers. Garments must be washed as directed and with “like” garments ex don’t wash Tees with Bath towels(too much friction wears on the print)

    There are a lot of “people” including myself who have great success with inkjet. But you MUST follow the above directions.

    • Interesting point of view, I agree with some of what you say. But ultimately I still think plastisol heat transfers are the best for a custom garment business as the limitations are far less and consumers today can be very demanding. I too have had great success with inkjet heat transfers but I only do them for myself. Thanks a lot for your input; I’m sure it will help others out.

  10. Raul says:

    What method do you recomend me im startin a soccer uniforms business heat transfer ?
    i just need to stamp numbers and letters ? with ood quality ?

    • I would use computer cut vinyl heat transfers in different colors if you only need to do names and numbers. You can use your own computer and buy a plotter to make them yourself or you can get them done online and shipped to you ready to press.

      You could even do 2 color names and numbers with this method if you wanted to but 1 colors jobs would be very easy to do. Good luck!

  11. RawImage says:

    I am in the process of expanding my business. I am currently using my screen printing press but I am limited to the different art works I can do so I’m deciding to go with the chromablast adding the cutter to print on dark…what are your views on this? I need a professional opinion. Help!

  12. sedrip says:

    Do you have experience printing plastisol transfers? Ivescrolled through yourvideos but cant find any on how to make them

  13. jacque says:

    Hi, thanks for all the great advice.

    What is the best heat transfer paper to use?

    Does plastisol heat transfer leave a sticky/square around the areas that are not printed.. like heat transfer paper?

    • No a plastisol heat transfer does not leave ghosting around the image. They are screen printed with plastisol inks. There is no “best” transfer paper to use for this. It’s all about the printing and application.

  14. Pingback: How To Make Screen Printed Transfers | Critical3

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