Precise Heat

Precise Heat
Precise Heat

How to Decorate Difficult Substrates With Heat Applied Graphics

If there’s anything worse than turning down a job and potential profits it’s turning down a job when you know you could’ve done it if only you had the right tools. Fortunately, saying no to difficult substrates is something that you can avoid less and less, if not altogether, thanks to ground-breaking new products and heat-seal equipment.Hair pulling items such as umbrellas, golf bags, swim suits, and bags can now be done quickly and easily by with the use of specialty platens and specific types of heat seal machines that allow for the positioning of awkward shapes. In other words, now you can say yes to once difficult items, giving your shop a competitive edge and another avenue to increased revenue. 

Improving Technology

Heat-applied graphics and heat-seal presses have come a long way since their humble beginnings. Technology has dramatically improved the quality and durability of transfers to the point where they’re equal to, if not better than, screen printing. Meanwhile, improvements in heat-seal machines abound, including automatic pop up features and digital pressure gauges, all of which make it faster, easier, and more practical to use heat-applied graphics.

Print and cut technology also has benefited from technology improvements, including the ability to print a full-colour design on white media and cut it so it’s ready for application. What does that mean for you? It means there’s no waiting for a custom order from a contractor or having to invest in screen printing equipment. Further, new materials developed specifically for print-and-cut technology give you more decorating options, including the ability to decorate water-proof nylon, 100% polyester, and super-stretchy materials such as Lycra® Spandex.

The Right Tools
Your first step in eliminating the headaches once associated with difficult-to-decorate items is to find the right equipment, starting with your heat press. While clamshells and draw-style heat presses have their benefits, a swing-away press is ideally suited for challenging items because it keeps heat away from the workspace, making layout extremely easy, and it locks down from over the center onto thick items, giving a better seal. Swing-aways are available in manual and automatic air press configurations, the latter of which is hooked up to an air compressor, allowing the press to open and close automatically at the touch of a button.

What’s more important than this design consideration, though, is finding a swing-away press with an open throat design, which allows for clearance underneath the bottom platen; the base of the press is affixed toward the back, not in the center. Why does this matter? Let’s say you’re decorating a golf bag. You’ll want all that extra space underneath to let the bag hang off. Finally, for the most hassle-free decorating experience with the most space underneath, look for a press with a stand (as opposed to a tabletop configuration), sized at least 40 x 50 cms.

When choosing a swing-away press, look for a fully digital unit, which will give you digital time, temperature and pressure measurements, giving you more precise information while decorating. For instance, every time you set the knob to a particular PSI (pounds per square inch) setting on a digital unit, you’re assured of getting the same pressure as the previous time.

If you don’t have a swing-away press, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to tackle difficult-to-decorate items; it just means the job will be tougher than it needs to be. If you try to tackle the items anyway, set up your press so you have as much clearance as possible underneath.

Change Will Do You Good
Another plus of open throat style of swing-away press is you can load the shirt onto the lower platen the same way as you load a shirt on a screen print pallet. This is called “threading.” Only the top layer of the shirt is on the platen, the rest of the shirt hangs below. Threading an item rather than just laying the entire garment on top of the platen gives you a better seal by ensuring that seams, zippers, buckles and other obstacles are out of the way. This process eliminates the need for pillows, print pads, and other workaround items.

Another critical feature for difficult-to-decorate items is interchangeable platens. For example, a 15 x 25cm platen works well for baby shirts, youth garments, small jerseys and bags. Other standard platen sizes include 20 x 25cm and round 18cm, which works well with roll bags that have circles at either end, or umbrellas.

Custom platens also are available from suppliers for around £125 and a two- to four-week turnaround; they can even make a single custom platen to accommodate two items. Decorators may want custom platens for fold-up chairs, leather portfolios, luggage, lunch cooler bags, and other challenging items.

Most suppliers will request that you send in the item or items that you want to heat press and they will custom manufacture a platen to do the job. In addition to the item, they also need to know the make and model of your heat press. For high production situations, a custom platen can make a huge difference in efficiency and productivity as workers spend less time positioning the item on the press and then taking it off.

Whichever size and shape you use, the point is you should always choose the platen that best fits the item’s imprint area. Better fit means more consistent pressure, which in turn leads to a better-looking design that won’t peel off.

The more services you can offer your existing clients, the greater amount of loyalty you can expect as they keep coming to you for all their needs. Expanding the range of products you can decorate also gives you an opportunity to add on to existing orders as well as branch out into new markets offering new items. With the improvements in technology and equipment, there are very few things that can’t be decorated with heat-applied graphics.

About the Author

Martin is Vice President of Target Transfers Ltd
a GroupeSTAHL Company.
info@targettransfers.com
www.targettransfers.com
Tel:+44 (0) 1376 326351.

What Type of Boiler do I Have?

In my home, I have an outdated manual thermostat and I want to switch to a more modern digital thermostat for more precise control on heating during the winter and of course to save money.

I'm considering the Honeywell RTH2520B Decor 7-Day Programmable Thermostat.

The description on Amazon says "For use with gas, oil, or electric furnaces and AC, single stage heating..."

My furnace or boiler when initially turned on for the winter sounds like it fills some kind of tank with water, then when steam is created it is sent up through the pipes to end up on baseboard radiators. Making sure the pilot is on (meaning it uses natural gas), I have to flip a switch very similar to a light switch so I'm positive it uses AC electricity.

With that description of my furnace (or boiler?), Would it be compatible with the digitial thermostat I mentioned before? Thanks.

You have hot water baseboard from the sounds of it. Any thermostat will work on it.

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