The UniNet iColor 500 laser printer is a versatile print platform for heat transfer and small signage applications. It can be used to produce top quality decorated apparel with opaque color on light and dark garments. And it can be used to create signage with white toner on dark or colored cardstock, and a host of other substrates. Most of the amazing versatility of the iColor 500 comes from its innovative CMYK +Fluorescent White toner set, but the toner isn’t the whole story. The iColor 500 solution has a secret ingredient that helps it crank out T-shirt transfers that are faster, softer, and more durable than any other laser transfer solution. What’s the secret?
The secret ingredient to the excellence of the iColor laser transfer printers is UniNet Premium Laser Transfer Paper. UniNet Premium Paper is a two-step laser transfer paper consisting of a transfer sheet and an adhesive sheet. Although it’s made primarily for decorating dark garments, it also works well with non-textile applications.
Like other two-step laser transfer papers for decorating dark apparel, The UniNet Premium Paper process begins with pressing two sheets together (Fig 1). You print your image on the transfer sheet, then press the transfer and adhesive sheets together. This stage applies a coating of white adhesive under the CMYK+FW toner and bonds it to the apparel. The UniNet adhesive paper also adds a second white under-base beneath the CMYK and Fluorescent White toner layers to give the transfer more color and opacity.
Features and Advantages
• Superior Opacity: Because the Premium Paper adds a layer of white adhesive beneath a layer of white toner, the transfer has a ‘double white’ effect which produces very opaque images with true color on both raster and vector graphics.
• Superior Washfastness: Most laser transfers last about 30 – 35 wash cycles. Because of the unique properties of UniNet’s adhesive paper, transfers made with Premium Paper are rated for 100 washes. Premium Paper transfers are more than twice as durable as other laser transfers.
• Superior Productivity: With UniNet Premium Paper, the entire process is faster. There is no need to pre-heat the heat press and table. The first step, in which the transfer and adhesive sheets are pressed, takes only 70 seconds. For comparison, consider that Forever Laser Dark, a highly regarded laser transfer solution, requires pre-heating the press and table for two minutes, then pressing the A and B sheets for up to 2 minutes. Both are good solutions for decorating dark garments and they all have their advantages. But UniNet Premium Paper wins in the speed department by cutting your shirt press time from four minutes down to 70 seconds.
• Softer, Matte Finish: The other advantage of UniNet Premium paper shows up in the second step. When applied to the shirt, there’s only one step required because the Premium Paper transfer has a pleasing matte finish with a soft hand. Forever Laser Dark produces a glossy transfer that must be pressed again with a silicon finishing paper to achieve a matte effect. The extra step can leave a barely noticeable but slightly rough texture. Customers who have seen the iColor process demonstrated with Uninet Premium Paper and some of the other options prefer the look and feel of the Premium Paper transfer.
• Versatility: Like Forever Laser Dark, UniNet Premium Paper isn’t only for shirts. It can also be used to decorate hard surface items like mouse pads and wood signs. Yes, wood. The iColor 500 can decorate wood, tile, magnets and such using ICH Hard Surface paper. But if you’re decorating a non-white substrate, ICH Hard surface paper may not provide the opacity you want. In such cases UniNet Premium paper can apply toner to the same substrate with more opacity and abrasion resistance. (Fig 2).
Process and Considerations
There is a slight downside. The Premium paper takes a little more finesse to achieve consistent adhesive coating on the first step. Uninet recommends using a hot laminator to pre-seat the adhesive. After your image is printed, place the printed transfer paper on a sheet of adhesive paper, with the adhesive facing the printed side. Run them through a hot laminator. This should remove any air pockets between the sheets and help the adhesive layer bond to the toner. Then place them on a heat press and proceed. You should also take steps to prevent the paper from cooling while you’re peeling the transfer sheet from the adhesive sheet. Here’s a step by step breakdown of the ideal Premium transfer paper process. Always use a swing-away heat press! Clam shell presses apply pressure unevenly across the table and will not work well with laser transfer paper.
- Cover the rubber table of the heat press with a lower platen wrap and place a Teflon sheet on top of that. Or cover the lower platen with a Teflon wrap.
- Print on the transfer sheet using the Medium Light media type
- Place the print face to face with and adhesive sheet and run them through a hot laminator. The Fellowes Cosmic2 125 is a good choice (Use the 5mil setting).
- Place the transfer paper and adhesive sheet on the heat press bed with the adhesive sheet on top. Fold back a corner of the adhesive sheet to make it easier to peel. Cover them both with a sheet of regular copy paper (this keeps the paper from being sucked off the press bed when you open the heat press).
- Press for 35 – 40 seconds at 260 – 280°F with medium to firm pressure. Open the press, and close it again. Press for another 35 seconds (Yes, it sounds silly, but it works).
- Remove the top sheet of copy paper and, keeping them flat on the heat press table, immediately peel the adhesive sheet from the transfer sheet in one smooth motion. Do not lift the papers from the bed of the heat press. Allowing cool air under the transfer paper during peeling may interfere with the adhesive coat application.
- Trim the edges of the transfer sheet with a pair of scissors to remove any adhesive residue
- Increase the pressure setting on the heat press to firm, and place your garment on the press
- Place the adhesive sheet on the garment and press with firm pressure for 30 seconds
- Remove the shirt from the press and allow it to cool to room temperature. Remove the transfer paper smoothly by lifting one corner and rolling if off of the garment.
- Place the shirt on the press, cover with silicone-coated Kraft paper and re-press to fix the transfer for 25 – 30 seconds at firm pressure. Wait 5 seconds before removing the Kraft paper.
As the name implies, UniNet Premium paper is a cut above the rest. A package of 25 sets of transfer and adhesive paper is $124.00. But this is one of those instances where you pay a little more and get a lot of bang for your buck. UniNet Premium Paper works faster and lasts twice as long as the “leading brand”. It also has a softer hand. That means customers really like the softer feel of your decorated t-shirts. And finally, it’s versatility makes it a practical solution for more than just apparel. If you’ve got a shiny new iColor 500 or 600 and want to get the most out of your hardware, we suggest you stock some UniNet Premium Transfer paper. It’s the iColor’s secret ingredient.