Adding White Toner Printing to Your Heat Transfer Vinyl Business
What is Heat Transfer Vinyl?
The heat transfer vinyl (HTV) process uses a thin vinyl with an adhesive backing to create custom designs. A cutting machine with a blade is used to cut designs into HTV. These cutting machines take a digital design and automatically cut it into the vinyl, the decorator then must weed out the excess vinyl by hand prior to transferring it to a shirt.
There are three parts of heat transfer vinyl: the vinyl itself, the adhesive backing, and the carrier sheet. The carrier sheet is a plastic-like sheet that holds the weeded vinyl design in place for the transfer process. Once pressed onto a garment, the carrier sheet is removed.
Benefits of Heat Transfer Vinyl
Many people start their custom t-shirt business with heat transfer vinyl since it is an in-expensive method for creating custom, do-it-yourself apparel. Vinyl is readily available from a variety of online suppliers and even large-name craft stores and comes in a variety of colors available by the sheet or roll.
HTV allows for single, custom items to be created unlike other decoration methods such as screen printing which has a high set-up cost. All one needs to do is create a design, cut one copy and press! Therefore, it makes small runs and one-offs less of a headache for the decorator.
Heat transfer vinyl can be pressed to a variety of surfaces and fabrics unlike some other decoration methods, such as sublimation which only can be done on polyester. Heat transfer vinyl can be applied to cotton, poly/cotton blends, denim, leather and more!
Limitations of Heat Transfer Vinyl
While it is a great entry level process for decoration businesses, people often realize their limitations. They begin to consider more flexible and sophisticated methods of creating custom apparel.
Heat transfer vinyl is best for more simplistic designs in one, maybe two colors. This is because, like screen printing, each color must be done individually. Each color needs to be cut and pressed separately. Weeding the excess vinyl can be time consuming on large orders.
The true limitation or challenge here is layering HTV and lining up each color in the design accurately and consistently. This can take some skills and require a big learning curve. However, even if you line up the design correctly, the vinyl will feel thick, heavy, and bulky on the garment, leaving a lot to be desired in terms of look and feel.
From HTV to White Toner: Jodie Bucu- AMTwinspirations
This was the exact challenge that Jodie Bucu, owner of the Etsy shop AMTwinspirations, was faced with. Often, she was limited in the designs she could produce due to the number of colors. Jodie is a small business owner that makes custom goods with heat transfer vinyl from her home. She uses a Silhouette Cameo® 4 Plus cutting machine for her heat transfer vinyl.
Jodie often gets orders to add logos to shirts. While this can be easy for single-color designs, it is common that she is faced with multi-color logos or images. With more complex logo designs, the quality degrades rapidly.
The feeling of the design on the garment ends up feeling stiff and looking bad. This is due to all the color layering necessary to complete the logo. It’s difficult to get layers to line up properly and lead to messy-looking finished products.
Design Limitations Lead to Outsourcing
Jodie recently received a complex design from a prospective customer and realized she did not have the ability to do what was needed. The customer wanted an image of a person coming out of a Looney Tunes background saying, “great job folks!” and there was absolutely no way she could make that with vinyl.
However, as a small business owner, Jodie did not want to turn down the order. Instead, she found a way to make the shirt idea a reality. She outsourced the project through a different decoration process- white toner printing with an OKI 711WT printer.
Exploring White Toner Transfers
To be able to fulfill her customer’s request, Jodie ordered some transfers with the complex custom design and colors printed by an OKI white toner printer. Once received, she used the same heat press she had been using for heat transfer vinyl to transfer the image to the shirt.
While it took some adjusting of heat and pressure, after a few test transfers she found the ideal process for transfer. Jodie says she was so thrilled with the quality, look, feel and process of the white toner transfers versus HTV. So much so that she decided immediately that an investment into an OKI 711WT printer was her next move.
Before completing the white toner transfers, Jodie said she did not know what to expect. After she got a hang of the process, she was impressed by the simplicity of the process. All she would have to do was print and press. She thought to herself “I have to have this!”
Decision to Buy an OKI 711WT Printer
After trying a white toner transfer herself and seeing the end-product, she made the decision to purchase OKI 711WT printer as a move to expand on HTV for her small business. She does not plan on stopping use of heat transfer vinyl, but instead expanding her business to be able to accept more complex requests and fulfill them in-house.
With HTV, it would take her approximately 5-10 minutes to make, including the time spent cutting, weeding and pressing, depending on the complexity of the design. With the OKI 711WT, her purchased transfers took less than 5 minutes including printing and pressing even with a more complex design.
Due to this, Jodie will be able produce custom goods more efficiently. She plans to continue to use both HTV and OKI white toner printing in the future and offer different pricing scales based on the technology used in the process.
Is an OKI White Toner Printer Right for Your Business?
White toner printers, like the OKI 711WT printer, are revolutionary for apparel decorators. They provide the ability to print bright, vibrant high-definition images for heat transfer onto a variety of surfaces. This opens new revenue streams for decoration businesses like Jodie’s. White toner printing is a great addition to a heat transfer vinyl business to expand offerings and profitability.
There are multiple OKI white toner printers with varying capabilities, definition, and print sizes. To learn more about which printer would be best for your business, you can compare OKI printers here.
ISW will follow up with Jodie with AMTwinspirations after she receives her OKI 711WT. Stay tuned to learn how getting started went for her, what she has been able to create, and how her business grows.
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