If in 2019, you had said that face masks were going to be a fashion statement in a year, you probably would have been called crazy or would have been stared at like you had a third eye. But here we are in 2020, and times are a little different. With the current climate, if you are going out in public, most retail establishments require a face mask. The disposable blue masks are just boring and no way to represent your individuality. You want to stand out, be yourself, and of course, be fashionable. Your customers are asking for customized masks for a school organization or something for them to make people smile during these challenging times. Heat transfer vinyl and dye sublimation can help you customize your masks.
If you have a heat press, you have a new business opportunity. Face masks can be decorated with heat transfer vinyl or sublimation. Depending on the material and the color, you have endless possibilities to bring custom masks for your customers. SIGNWarehouse has two new products that you can use to meet this demand. The white HTX sublimation face mask can be decorated with an all-over print if you have a dye sublimation printer. You can apply heat transfer vinyl to the black HTX HTV face masks. This is a market that is new and different. it presents new challenges and opportunities. Here’s what you need to know.
Where to Start for Heat Transfer Vinyl
Masks are made out of different materials including cotton, polyester, spandex and other materials. The most common material will be cotton with some type of pocket so you can place a filter inside. If you are going to put HTV on a mask, make sure the material can handle the heat of a press. There could be a filter, piece of plastic or something of that nature that could melt and you have a ruined mask.
Once you have the mask and know the type of material, you need to pick the HTV that will work best with that material. We suggest something thin to keep the mask breathable and flexible. Most of our HTV products have been tested and verified as safe for use to decorate face masks. The added layer of film has not been found to degrade the comfort or effectiveness of the face covering. Since HTX Face Masks are made from a stretchable blend of polyester and elastane, choose a compatible HTV. Logical Color WarmPEEL Universal is an excellent choice. Siser EasyWeed, Chemica HotMark, Revolution, and EnduraTex Hotmark are also good choices.
In addition to appropriate heat transfer film, there are a few other things you will need for your custom face masks:
- Heat Transfer Vinyl
- Heat Press
- A heat transfer pillow or pad, more on this in a bit
- And your creative mind!
You will want to measure the area of the mask that you want to decorate. You don’t have to make a design that is too big or too small. Your design can be one color, two colors, or layered if desired. But you don’t want the design to become overwhelming and busy. The simpler the better. If you’re adept at print and cut workflow, you can use Logical Color DarkJET for an opaque, full-color graphic.
There could be a flexible nose piece to help for a tighter fit and this will be okay to press. This is where the heat press pads and pillows will be your new best friend. You can place the pad in between the mask and bend the nose piece. Also, if you can, straighten the piece out and have the mask lay flat. The heat press pads and pillows can be very helpful with your presses. The way masks are made, especially ones that have a seam in the middle can cause an uneven surface to press. These accessories can help give a flat and even surface for pressing. SIGNWarehouse sells Hotronix Print Perfect Pads, comes in 5” x 6” and 8” x 10” sizes, and Geo Knight Nomex Pads, in 14” x 16” or 16” x 20” sizes.
What if You Want to Sublimate?
There are masks out there that can be sublimated. You will need a sublimation printer, heat transfer pad or pillow, and heat press. Instead of being able to go to the local big-box store, you will have to buy a sublimatable face mask. They will be 100% polyester. The fun and creative difference with sublimation are that you can do an all-over print. You are not stuck with one base color or pre-printed pattern. You have a white, blank canvas to show your creativity.
The pads and pillows will be helpful to keep the mask flat. If the mask wrinkles or is uneven, it could leave blank spots in the print or uneven color. The Geo Knight Nomex Pads can be cut down to fit inside your mask. You can trace your face mask and cut the pad to fit into the mask. Shown in the image (FIG 1), place the mask on the pad. Cut out and you have a pad that can fit inside and give an even surface to press. The sublimation ink may transfer to the pad, so you may want to place paper or craft paper where the pad is exposed. If not covered, the next time you use the pad, the print could transfer on to the inside of the next mask.
How to decorate HTX face masks With HTV:
- Design your graphic. Set up the file for contour cutting.
- Cut with your vinyl cutter and weed the excess.
- Set your heat press for the temperate of the HTV that you are using. You can also test the pressure with the pad and face mask to make sure you have the correct pressure.
- Place your graphic and press for the amount of time that is ideal for the HTV you are using. You can use heat tape to keep your print in place.
- Remove your liner and you have a customized mask!
- Bear in mind that, if you have a cutter with registration mark sensors, you can use EnduraTex DarkJET to create opaque printed decals and apply them to black HTX face masks.
How to decorate HTX Sublimation Face Masks:
- If you are going to do an all-over print, something you may want to do is take a picture of the mask, and import into your design software. You can size it in the software to get an idea of how much material you will use. This will help make sure you have the area you would like to press covered.
- Print with your sublimation printer and settings to get the best colors.
- Turn on your heat-press and set at 380°F. Set medium pressure with the mask and pad. Also, use this time to remove any wrinkles.
- Set a craft piece of paper on the bottom platen. This will help keep any of the inks from being transferred to the platen and possibly show up on future prints.
- Place the mask and pad on the platen, with the print on top. Take another kraft sheet and cover and press for 45 seconds. Remove the paper.
- Flip the mask to the other side and repeat step 5.
- Remove the paper from the mask. Be careful when removing the print to not cause a double print. A double print can happen if the mask is still hot enough to cause the inks to sublimate and cause a fuzzy, hazy print.
- If there are parts of the mask you do not want to have paint on, just cover with another sheet of paper.
Why Face Masks?
Now that you are equipped with instructions and ideas to decorate masks, you may be asking why bother? People can buy blank and disposable face masks anywhere, but, as we all know, lots of people want to personalize what they wear and use. Getting a face mask that fits your identity is not as easy. That’s where creative garment decorators find opportunities.
SIGNWarehouse is now offering HTX brand fabric face masks. These masks are made of microfiber polyester material, lightweight and breathable. They are developed with an intermediate high quality, non-woven filter, and have 3 layers of protection! They are also washable. They’re available in black and white. The white masks are suitable for sublimation and the black masks are great for heat transfer vinyl. The sublimated masks lose no colors with washing. They come in packages of 10 for $62.95, about $6.30 a mask.
As crazy as 2020 has been so far, it’s nice to be able to use your creativity to make the world a little brighter. And with the face mask guidelines comes another opportunity for garment decorators to fill the demand for personalized fashion. If you have a heat press and some standard HTV, you can decorate and sell premium 3-ply black face masks. If you have a dye sublimation setup, you can decorate and sell stunning polyester masks and command a premium price. All you need is a Nomex pad or two, your creativity, and some HTX Face Masks.