Small orders are an excellent opportunity to use cut vinyl. Using this thermo-transfer method, you can even print single copies! This method is best suited for printing words, logos and simple graphics. Sometimes, this printing method, which uses flex foil, is mistakenly referred to as an “iron-on” transfer. Such a term is accurate, if your household iron looks like this:
If your iron is slightly smaller, I suggest we start using proper terminology :) Cut vinyl is a printing method, using which a design is hot-stamped onto the fabric using a special flex or flock foil with the design already cut using a plotter. Thanks to good foil quality (the fresher the better), high pressure, high temperature (about 170 deg. Celsius when printing on cotton) and long stamping time (up to 20 seconds), the end result is highly resistant to laundering.
What’s the difference between flex and flock?
Flex is a kind of foil with smooth surface. Flock is a slightly thicker kind of foil with a texture resembling “fluff”. Various manufacturers and different kinds of foil are available for thermal transfer. Aside from colours, one of the key factors of the end result being different is the thickness of the foil. After many years of tests and research our clients are offered prints using the thinnest foils. A sample selection of available colours:This colour gamut is sufficient for most prints. When using foil gradual transitions from one colour to another (gradients) cannot be achieved. However, the majority of printed projects have no gradients, therefore this is not too big of an obstacle.
One of the best things about cut vinyl is the ability to print on single pieces of clothing, because there are no pre-production costs. A vector file with the project is transferred to the plotter, which cuts the foil according to the design.
How to print on a t-shirt?
The video below, which we recorded in our offices, will let you see the entire process:
Thermal transfer is used to print on sweatshirts, work wear, sportswear and most of the fabrics in general – natural ones, as well as synthetic – thanks to different kinds of foil used.
Cut vinyl – pros and cons
- Able to print single copies
- No pre-production costs
- High print durability
- Foils come in various colours; special foils are also available; “fluff” effect of the flock foil
- No tonal transitions between colours
- Minimum detail size in print: 2-3 mm
If your design features tonal transitions or you plan to print over 20 copies, screen printing will be a better option..
IMPORTANT: Remember, there’s no such thing as the “best possible printing method.” Each and every method has its pros and cons. Operator’s skills are an important (if not all-important) factor as well, as are the materials and equipment used. Other “non-technical” aspects are important as well, such as individual taste and expectations of the client regarding the end result. It is the job of a professional company to suggest the most effective solution, tailored to your needs.