You most likely purchased a heat press in order to mass-produce a huge number of high-quality patterns. You must choose the ideal type of cloth to print on, whether you are printing bags for sale or making t-shirts for your family reunion. Polyester is inexpensive and comfortable, but can it be heat pressed?
You may heat press polyester at temperatures lower than 300°F. This synthetic fabric will be damaged by high temperatures, causing glossing or scorching. You can heat press any polyester fabric with the correct temperature setting, transfers that function at low temperatures, and a well timed pressing.
We’ll look at how a heat press works, how to print on polyester, and recommendations for working with poly mixes in this post.
Can You Heat Press Polyester?
If you pay attention to the temperature of the press and the pressure applied, you can use a heat press to transfer designs onto polyester material.
Heat transfer printing transfers ink from a printed design to your textile using heat and pressure. You may also hear this process referred to as “sublimation printing.”
So, why is printing on polyester such a big deal? The ink from the printed design is thermally transferred to the fabric with sublimation printing. Because poly is sensitive to high temperatures, this can cause issues.
You can use a heat press on polyester, but you’ll need to know what temperatures to use and what tools to use. Otherwise, you risk causing damage to the fabric.
Some transfer papers, for example, are designed to adhere to fabric at low temperatures. Using these low-temperature products, you can print your design without having to use a high temperature that might scorch the fabric.
Why Use Polyester?
Printing on polyester necessitates a higher level of skill than printing on cotton. Despite this, many artists prefer polyester to cotton because it is less expensive and sometimes more comfortable.
Printing on cotton is far easier than printing on any type of polyester, according to almost everyone. Some artists believe that 100 percent cotton is optimal for the most opaque, dense print result.
Polyester–and a variety of poly blends–do, however, provide a greater range of comfort than most cotton garments. Most t-shirt retailers now offer polycotton or tri-blend shirts as well as 100 percent cotton shirts. These textiles have a light, elastic feel thanks to the synthetic fibers.
Polyester is a synthetic material that can be mass-produced and is less expensive than natural fibers like cotton. Its low cost makes it an appealing option for anyone running a home business; you may save money by printing on less expensive paper!
There are also a number of solutions available to help you overcome the obstacles of printing on polyester. These days, you can get polyester transfer sheets. Low-temperature operation is possible with these transfer sheets.
Look for dyes that are specifically intended to function at low temperatures. Printing on polyester has never been easier than it is now, thanks to all of these low-temperature alternatives.
What is a Heat Press Machine?
An object is printed between an electrically heated surface and a sturdy surface using a heat press, which compresses an ink transfer.
Heat presses are available in a variety of forms and sizes to suit the type of thing you wish to print on. The entry-level model includes a flat work bed and heated platen, making it suitable for printing on flat-surface objects like shirts, scarves, and purses.
A work table, a printing plate (also known as a heating plate or heat plate), a pressured handle to push the plate down onto the work table, and a control panel to determine temperature and timing are all included in most heat presses.
When using a heat press, you choose a transfer paper with your pattern printed on it and place it inside the press together with the cloth. The ink on the paper is turned into gas and merged with the fabric using heat and pressure in the press. As the ink cools, it hardens inside the fabric strands, resulting in a long-lasting design.
This technique, also known as sublimation printing, can be used on a variety of surfaces and materials, not simply fabrics. Heat transfer can be used to make high-quality designs on mugs, plates, plastic phone covers, scarves, t-shirts, and other items.
Because of the high heat used by the press to transfer the ink, some materials require extra care and attention. You don’t want to ruin the item on which you’re printing!
When printing on any type of fabric, you’ll want to maintain your press’s optimal temperature setting below 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Recommended Heat Press Temperature for Polyester
When printing on polyester, most heat presses recommend a temperature of 270°F. Of course, like with any gadget, you must follow the user manual’s instructions!
The amount of time you keep the object within the press has an impact on the print quality. You may leave the heated plate pressed on the fabric for longer on less delicate fibers like cotton. Most artists recommend just pressing polyester for 10 seconds at a time (though again, this period varies depending on the kind of item you are printing on and the instructions in the user manual).
Heat Press Temperature Chart and Time
What temperature setting you should use and how long you should leave the fabric pressed within the press depends on the type of textile you wish to utilize.
Keep in mind that while this is a basic rule, various things might affect the temperature and, in particular, the amount of time required to press a certain item. If you’re printing on a double-knit dress, for example, the extra thickness of the cloth may necessitate a lengthier printing time.
|Type of Fabric||Temperature||Time|
|100% Polyester||270℉||10 seconds|
|100% Cotton||380℉||Up to 15 minutes|
How to Heat Press Polyester
Let’s look at the most important steps in utilizing a heatpress on polyester.
Take a moment to read the label of the object you intend to print on first. Whether you’re printing on a bag, scarf, or t-shirt, there should be a manufacturer’s label inside that tells you about the material’s composition.
This is crucial since you’ll need to know what kind of fabric you’re working with in order to set the proper temperature on your press. T-shirts are more likely to come in a range of poly mixes like polycotton, whereas cloth bags are normally 100 percent polyester because it is the cheapest fabric option.
After that, choose the heat transfer paper that would work best with your cloth. You can readily obtain transfer paper that adheres to your fabric at low temperatures these days, which is vital when working with delicate fabrics.
Preheat your press to the desired temperature. Do a brief test on an unnoticeable section of your item to ensure that the temperature does not damage the fabric (better yet, if you have many, inexpensive versions of whatever you’re printing on, do a test run on one of these!).
Between the material and the heat pad, some artists recommend placing a thin, protective cover sheet. Some people recommend using a heat press with a Teflon pad. This is another area where you might wish to experiment before deciding on the ideal approach for your printing style.
You should warm the cloth by pressing it for 5 seconds before placing the transfer paper on top of it before starting the real print. This helps avoid fabric shrinkage or dye migration throughout the printing process (we’ll go over what can go wrong later).
You’re now ready to print! Push the heat plate down onto your time with the pressure handle, sealing the fabric and transfer sheet between the plate and the work surface below. When working with polyester, apply light pressure to the handle because too much pressure can cause scorching or melting.
Finally, while the poly is still warm, pull away the transfer paper.
Where to Find a Heat Press
Today, a broad variety of heat presses are available for purchase. These range from small, inexpensive home presses to large, expensive industrial presses. If you want a press with numerous functionalities, such as the capacity to print on 3D objects such as mugs, be sure it comes with the appropriate attachments.
When utilizing a heat press on polyester, keep in mind that you’ll need low-heat transfer sheets and low-heat ink.
F2C Pro Digital Transfer Sublimation Press
This professional-grade heat press includes all of the necessary attachments for printing on hats, mugs, caps, and plates, as well as the standard flat t-shirt option. Its capacity to rotate 360 degrees makes it simple to operate with from any angle. The heat press measures 12″ X 15″ and is large enough to accommodate high-quality t-shirt printing on any size shirt.
It’s built of a tough aluminum alloy that’s designed to withstand years of professional use. The best part about this press is that you can print on a variety of materials, including textiles, ceramics, and glass!
PowerPress Industrial-Quality Heat Transfer Machine
The 15″ X 15″ heat plate on the PowerPress Industrial-Quality Press is ideal for even the largest printing projects. The digital temperature and time panel will assist you in perfecting your printing, particularly on heat-sensitive materials such as polyester and poly mixes. While printing, the Teflon-coated heating plate will help you avoid scorch marks.
This high-quality press was created primarily for printing on flat goods such as t-shirts and bags. It does not include attachments for printing on 3D things such as cups; instead, it focuses on giving the best features for flawless sublimation printing on flat surfaces.
How To Avoid Heat Press Marks On Polyester
If you’ve ever tried to use a heat press on polyester, you know how difficult it can be to avoid burn marks. The heat plate melting the plastic fibers of this synthetic fabric causes these marks to emerge as a glossy outline around the edge of the print pattern.
A high temperature can also cause fabric to skew or become misshapen. It can also cause the partially melted material to crinkle like a plastic bag. In the worst-case scenario, high temperatures can melt a hole in the material.
So, how do you stay away from these problems? The temperature of the press is the most crucial variable you can control. Read the owner’s handbook, check the label inside your item to see what kind of fabric it is made of, then make a trial run (or two) on spare samples of your item to see what temperature will transfer the design without destroying the cloth.
You’ll also want to keep the polyester in the press for the shortest amount of time possible. If you’re printing on a polyester mouse pad instead of a polyester t-shirt, the process will take longer. Again, determining the ideal length of time to use necessitates some trial and error.
While temperature and duration may vary depending on your press and the type of thing you’re printing on, most artists agree that a thick cover sheet should not be used with polyester. The thicker sheets require more time or a higher temperature, which is something you don’t want to do with poly.
Another excellent suggestion is to use a heat-resistant pillow instead of a hard surface to cover your work table. This added layer of protection can help safeguard delicate textiles like polyester.
Finally, as previously indicated, pull away the transfer paper while the pattern is still warm to avoid harming it.
Tips for Heat Printing on Polyester
Here’s a quick rundown of the information you’ll need to print on polyester.
Check the Label
A manufacturer’s label will be found inside almost every pre-made item you order. This is usually seen near the back of the collar or just above the hem within a side seam on t-shirts.
If you want to print on polyester fabric rather than a pre-made item, the fabric’s composition is usually listed in the product description. If you buy fabric in a store, the fabric bolt will tell you all you need to know–a it’s good idea to take a picture of this information while you’re there in case you forget later!
You’re probably sick of hearing it, but knowing what cloth you’re putting in your press so you can adjust the temperature right is critical. A different temperature is required for 100% polyester than for polycotton.
Before setting up your manufacturing line to print dozens of pieces, execute a test run on a scrap of cloth or an extra t-shirt, if possible. This will let you to find the optimal temperature and timing combination for a clear, opaque print that does not scorch the polyester.
Try checking the temperature on a small, hidden corner of the object first if you only have a little amount of fabric or only have one t-shirt to print on.
When it Goes Wrong
“OK, but what if something goes wrong?” you’re presumably wondering. The bad news is that while you can take efficient efforts to avoid destroying polyester, once it has been damaged, there isn’t much you can do to undo the damage.
When employing a heat transfer on polyester, the main threat is melting or scorching. You will almost likely see crinkly spots or shiny patches on the polyester if you press the design on the fabric for too long or with too much heat.
You might try putting the fabric in the washer to get rid of some of the crinkles. On shiny spots, you can also use a stiff brush. However, most experts agree that neither of these methods is foolproof.
Dye migration, in addition to the risk of scorching, can wreak havoc on your polyester print. When the ink on the fabric itself bleeds into the ink on your printed pattern, this is known as dye migration. Dye migration occurs when a black-and-white photo design is transferred to a hot pink t-shirt and splotches of pink appear in the printed image.
Dye formulated for printing on polyester should assist prevent dye migration problems. Simply conduct some research and get the necessary materials for your project–as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Can You Heat Press Vinyl on Polyester?
If you follow the methods carefully, you may heat press vinyl on polyester safely. However, some people find this method difficult, and everyone agrees that heat transfer vinyl onto cotton is easier.
If you want a vinyl design to look cool, you’ll need to go through all of the standard heat-pressing methods, such as preheating the polyester and testing a sample to make sure you have the proper temperature.
However, because applying a vinyl transfer to polyester is more difficult, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the pressing time. When transferring ink to polyester, you’ll almost certainly need a longer pressing time.
What’s the best way to do this without scorching the polyester? A sequence of brief pressings is recommended by some specialists. Between each brief pressing period, gently check to see if the vinyl has attached.
Can You Heat Press Polyester and Spandex Blend?
If you take some measures, you may heat press a polyester-spandex blend safely. This trendy fabric may be found in a variety of athletic clothing, such as yoga trousers and exercise tank tops. It’s easy to see why you’d want to put colorful designs on such popular garments!
However, because of the elasticity of the fabric, applying heat to a poly-spandex blend can result in blistering or unpleasant stretching and shrinking.
To avoid this, pre-shrinking the fabric and using a slightly lower temperature than you would for 100 percent polyester are also recommended.
Run polyester through a wash cycle and then a dryer cycle to pre-shrink it. The fabric should not shrink in the press if it has already been heated in the dryer.
Does a Heat Transfer or Screen Printing Work Best with Polyester?
To transfer a pattern onto polyester, you can safely use a heat press or a screen printing process. Neither alternative is necessarily superior; you should choose your method based on how you want the end result to appear.
The ink on the printed design is essentially dissolved into gas by a heat press, which is subsequently sublimated into the polyester fabric. Silkscreen printing, on the other hand, applies an inked design to fabric by the use of a mesh stencil. When it comes to polyester, both procedures have perks and cons.
Sublimation and heat press printing are extremely long-lasting. It is the most widely used modern way of imprinting a design on a variety of materials, including athletic uniforms. Complex, photo-like drawings that use multiple colours of ink at once perform well with the heat transfer process.
Of course, as you now know, utilizing a heat transfer on polyester comes with its own set of concerns, such as the possibility of the cloth melting. Some artists prefer the handcrafted style of silkscreen printing to this process since it appears more mechanical and digital.
Stretching a mesh or polyester screen over a frame and then transferring the negative of a pattern to the screen is what silkscreen printing is all about. A cool, hand-made design can be achieved by squeegeeing the inked screen onto the polyester of your fabric.
The fact that silk screening does not require the purchase of a pricey heat transfer machine is another significant advantage. Silkscreening can be done with items you already have in your craft supplies.
Of course, the disadvantage is that this procedure is messy and heavily reliant on your artistic ability. It’s improbable that you’ll get consistent outcomes all of the time. These designs don’t last as long as heat-set designs.
So, which method will be the most beneficial to you? It is determined by the desired final result. Some individuals love silk-screened products because they have a more vintage, artistic feel to them. Others appreciate sublimation printing’s durability and uniformity.
You now know how to use a heat press safely on polyester. The most important thing to remember is to keep an eye on the temperature to avoid scorching your fabric with shining scorch scars.
Was this information useful to you? What are your plans for using your heat press for printing? Let us know by leaving a comment below!