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Decoration Deep Dive – Heat Transfers & 4-Color Process

We’ve already talked about the classics of decoration ([link]) and some decoration methods that give off a higher perceived value (Laser Engraving & Debossing).

This time I want to cover one method that’s been around for a while and another one that has really taken off and become more commonplace over the last number of years. The first process we’ll discuss is heat transfers and then 4-color process. So buckle up and get ready to get colorful!

Heat Transfers – 

I’ve always struggled with how to explain what a heat transfer is. You’ve probably seen them on all sorts of apparel but describing it can be a little difficult. The best way I can describe it is “it’s a specially made sticker”, which is mostly true. 

The basics are that some sort of graphic is printed onto a special material that then adheres to the product once heat is applied. The biggest benefit of this previously was that it allowed logos with many colors, gradients or even photo realism to be decorated onto items and at potentially a lower cost.

When you screen print you have to burn screens per color and add additional cost to add those colors into your decoration, which all adds additional cost. Using a heat transfer can give you unlimited colors at a much lower cost than it would be to try and do it with traditional screen printing.

Due to the material of the transfers these are a very popular decoration method for athletic apparel. They are lightweight (one thin sticker versus layers and layers of ink), water resistant and are heat resistant. You’ll find many athletic brands use this method to tag shirts or put their brand logo on them. 

Some great items to use heat transfers on include – 

NIKE Dri-Fit Poly/Cotton T-shirt

Under Armour Hustle Pull Over Hooded Sweatshirt

The North Face Ladies Everyday Insulated Jacket (**note – heat transfers won’t ruin the waterproofing on jackets. Embroidery pokes holes in the jacket generally through all layers unless there’s a special pocket opening up the chance to have water come through. Heat Transfers keep your waterproofing intact!)

BUT heat transfers are great for other items as well. Backpacks, tote bags and coolers are a small sampling of other items that are ripe for heat transfer decorations. 

Not sure if heat transfers are right for your next project? That’s why we’re here. Contact us now and we’ll help you figure out if heat transfers are right for you!

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