Beyond Shirts: Other Heat Transfer Applications for HTV

Blog_HTF_header_300x231The heat transfer films we sell for garment decoration are commonly referred to as HTV or “T-Shirt Vinyl”. That term is misleading for two reasons. First, most of it isn’t actually vinyl, but Polyurethane (vinyl is normally made from PVC). More importantly, it’s not just for T-shirts. You can use heat transfer film to decorate a lot of things other than cotton and polyester tops. Why limit yourself or your customers? If you’re decorating shirts, you have the means to decorate lots of other things too. You can outfit your customer from head to toe, from his cap to her Converse tennis shoes. Put a custom koozie in his hand and he’s ready for a day at the ball park. He or she may also want a custom scarf or handbag. Selling new items to customers you’ve already won is the fastest way to build your bottom line. Here are a few ideas to get you beyond “T shirt vinyl” and expand your profitable heat transfer product line.

Caps & Shoes

You can cover your customers from head to toe in custom apparel. Caps of course, are easy to decorate provided you have the right press. You can used a dedicated cap press such as an EnduraPRESS SA-CP36 for under $300. You can also use an EnduraPRESS MF15 multi-function press, or a Geo Knight Digital Combo convertible heat press, both of which can be fitted with cap attachments (Fig 1).

The cap attachment for the MF15 comes standard. the Geo Knight cap attachment is an extra-cost item. Most caps today are decorated with embroidery, which feels more substantial than standard heat transfer film. You can get a similar effect from flock and give your cap a velvety texture that will please your customers. Either Chemica UpperFlock or Siser StripFlock will do nicely.

Cool Custom Converse

Continuing with the head-to-toe theme, let’s talk shoes. Not Florsheims of course. But the Converse Chuck Taylor high tops originally made popular by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are back in style. They look even cooler with custom heat applied decals -or nerdier if that’s the look you’re after. What film to use? Any good quality PU film will work. Logical Color WarmPEEL Universal is a great choice.  HotMarkSiser EasyWeed, or Chemica QuickFlex will also work. The challenge here is not the film, but the press. You can’t really put one in the middle of a clam shell press. An EnduraPRESS SD20 with the optional shoe platen is the most cost-effective solution. The next step up is an optional $225 shoe platen that works with Stahl’s Maxx clam or Fusion heat presses.

Bags & Scarves

Fashion accessories present equally attractive but less demanding options for heat transfer decoration. Many of these, like tote bags and scarves, are made of familiar textiles like cotton and polyester. Scarves made of delicate fabrics like silk may require a low temperature film application. The best approach here is a universal HTV like Logical Color WarmPEEL Universal or Chemica HotMark Revolution. Siser devotees can opt for Easy Weed Extra. 

These films will also be ideal for decorating nylon jackets, umbrellas and tote bags. For lightweight canvas tote bags, your favorite T-shirt transfer film should work.  Marketing these to your regular league jersey customers may require a little creativity. You might consider placing a mannequin in your lobby outfitted head to toe with various decorated garments and accessories.

Ad Specialties & Promotional Items

Now that we have a full line of fashion accessories for Mr. and Mrs. Ball Park, we need to equip them with some Super Fan gear to make everyone else green with envy. How about some team logo koozies to keep their beverages cool through the seventh inning stretch? Can this too be done with “T-shirt vinyl”? You bet your beer gut. Most koozies can be decorated with standard heat transfer films like Siser Easy WeedLogical Color WarmPEEL CP, or  HotMark. Even an ultrametallic film like GlitterSOFT would work. Wouldn’t that make them the envy of the owner’s box? But if it’s polypropylene, you should consider a low temperature or universal film like WarmPEEL Universal or HotMark Revolution. Start at 280° with medium pressure and test to find the best settings for your particular item. Whatever film you choose, be sure to use a Teflon sheet. In addition to koozies, you can use heat transfer film to customize things you would normally associate with other digital decoration techniques like vinyl and sublimation. Did you know you can put QuickFlex on a license plate blank? Ever thought about putting a metallic heat transfer film on a mouse pad? As they way, the only limitation is your imagination.

All of these cool HTV heat transfer products can be sold to your existing customers, some at prices much higher than a standard team jersey or graphic Tee. Of course, the price will depend in part on the quantities ordered. Scarves and sneakers are more of a custom item, so they should be priced accordingly. These may be easier to sell if you have a few on display in your shop. Koozies and similar items are more suited for large orders for promotional use by teams or businesses. Since they’re often found at the ball park or sports arena, perhaps you could suggest a set to go with your next team jersey order. “Would you like to super-size that with a side order of custom koozies or tote bags?”