Starting with T-shirts and Heat Transfer Vinyl

Your guide to getting started: Equipment, fabrics, tapes, design creation with software, image transfers and much more

heat transfer eqiupment and software

Newcomers to the t-shirt printing business will want to know some of the tricks of the trade, especially how to use Heat transfer vinyl. Once its application has been mastered, Heat transfer vinyl has many uses and can be used to brand any number of items, including bags, leather, notebooks and wood.

Below are several things to keep in mind when starting. These exploratory topics can be studied in-depth, individually. Let’s take a closer look:

Equipment Needed

A good software design program is the first step in and creating awesome designs for transferring onto t-shirts with heat transfer vinyl.

Vinyl cutters are the next important piece of equipment, because they transfer the image from the software onto the heat transfer for precision of the design.

A heat press and weeding tools are the final steps for transferring the design on the HTV film onto the t-shirt.

Voila, the final product is ready to hit the market.

Fabrics that can be used

As mentioned earlier in the article, any type of material can be used for a heat transfer, as long as it is resistant to hot temperatures as high as 320°F. Most T-shirt fabrics are resistant to high temperatures in this range and won’t be scorched. Be careful with things like silk and Nylon.

Types of Heat Transfer Vinyls available

The range is vast, allowing for endless inspiration when it to come designing t-shirts to sell. Ultra matte, neon colors, glitter, and metallic are but a few of the options. Other exciting options include holographic, camouflage and flock heat transfers. All of these options have different strengths and appeal to different types of customers.

Creating designs

Special software programs can be purchased to create designs. Since the HTV is cut, not printed, you’ll need vector design software. Some popular options are VE LXI, FlexiSign, CorelDRAW, and of course, Adobe Illustrator. These are probably listed in order of complexity, but they all work once you master the tools and interface. When the design is finished, it has to be flipped into a mirror image so that it can be pressed in the correct way onto the batch of t-shirts

Cutting and weeding of the Heat Transfer Vinyl

Vinyl cutters are designed to work with software programs, making the cutting out of the chosen design an easy task. Cuts are made to the heat transfer side and they may not always be visible on very thin material.

Weeding is an important step, as the unwanted parts of the design are removed, otherwise they will be pressed onto the t-shirt. Weeding tools are needed for this.

Transferring the image

The heat transfer vinyls are now ready to be ironed onto the t-shirts. Printing shops use either clam shell or a swing-away heat presses to transfer heating tape. The design will now be printed without the mirror image and is placed onto the garment with the vinyl side facing up.

Starting a T-shirt business

The decision to start a t-shirt printing business should not be taken lightly. Even though the latest reports indicate that the global t-shirt market will be worth 10 billion USD by 2025, it is also a fact that almost 50% of these do not survive in the competitive economic climate, and fail within two years.

Starting small with t-shirts and heat transfer vinyl may not be enough to ensure its survival. Perhaps branching out into the creation of banners and other branded printed goods may offer a bigger chance of survival, but the money needed for professional equipment can be substantial. On the other hand, the t-shirt is a clothing item that is extremely popular and worn by people of all ages, sizes and genders across the globe

The path to success

T-shirts are loved by all and the fact that even the rich and famous wear them continues to increase the demand for them.

Business plan and market knowledge

The first step to creating a successful business is the creation of a business plan that will include an estimation of equipment cost, rentals and employees needed; weighed against the demand in the area where the business will be located. Targeting of a specific market is important and creating a demand for a specialized type of t-shirt for that market is essential. This could be aimed at teenagers, branded t-shirts for businesses, t-shirts for special occasions or even environmentally friendly printing and fabrics

Targeting the e-commerce market

It is very difficult for a business to survive in a local setting only. E-commerce allows businesses to reach a targeted audience beyond the local community. This demands the creation of a user-friendly website and mobile app. A good delivery system will ensure that the t-shirts are delivered in a timely manner, providing that the equipment chosen to run the business is capable of handling the quantities needed.

Here, at SIGNWarehouse every startup t-shirt business can find all types of heat transfer vinyls and a variety of equipment to start a profitable t-shirt production line.