What is "Heat Transfer Printing" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 22-May-2023 (10 months, 24 days ago)
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Heat Transfer Printing

Heat transfer printing is an advanced and widely used technique in the textile industry for applying designs, patterns, or images onto fabrics. It involves the transfer of pigments or dyes from a carrier paper or film onto the fabric surface using heat and pressure. This process allows for intricate and high-quality designs to be transferred onto textiles with precision and durability.

Types of Heat Transfer Printing

There are several types of heat transfer printing methods used in the textile industry:

  1. Plastisol Heat Transfer Printing: Plastisol ink is screen printed onto a release paper or film, and then the design is transferred onto the fabric using heat. This method is commonly used for printing on t-shirts, sportswear, and promotional items.
  2. Sublimation Heat Transfer Printing: Sublimation ink is printed onto a special transfer paper, and then the design is transferred to the fabric through heat and pressure. Sublimation printing is often used for synthetic fabrics and produces vibrant, long-lasting colors.
  3. Vinyl Heat Transfer Printing: Vinyl heat transfer involves cutting designs from colored vinyl sheets and then applying them to the fabric using heat and pressure. This method is popular for personalized designs on garments and accessories.
  4. Flock Heat Transfer Printing: Flock heat transfer involves applying a layer of adhesive to the fabric, followed by the application of colored fibers (flock) using heat and pressure. The result is a velvety or textured design on the fabric.

Tips for Handling Heat Transfer Prints

When dealing with heat transfer prints, it is important to keep in mind the following tips:

  • Proper Temperature and Pressure: Ensure that the heat press machine is set to the recommended temperature and pressure for the specific type of heat transfer print being used. This will ensure proper adhesion and longevity of the design.
  • Surface Compatibility: Different fabrics have varying heat sensitivity. It is crucial to choose the appropriate heat transfer method that is compatible with the fabric being used to prevent damage or discoloration.
  • Peeling Technique: When removing the carrier paper or film after heat pressing, employ a slow and steady peeling technique to avoid damaging the transferred design. Peel in the opposite direction of the fabric to prevent distortion.
  • Washing and Care Instructions: Follow the specific washing and care instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure the longevity of the heat transfer print. Proper care will help maintain the color vibrancy and adhesion of the design over time.

Top International Users and Manufacturers

Heat transfer printing is widely adopted by various international users and manufacturers in the textile industry. Here are some notable examples:

  1. Nike: As a global leader in sportswear, Nike utilizes heat transfer printing extensively for their apparel, incorporating intricate designs and logos with exceptional quality and durability.
  2. Adidas: Adidas, renowned for their athletic footwear and apparel, employs heat transfer printing techniques to apply complex designs, patterns, and sponsor logos on their products.
  3. Under Armour: Under Armour, specializing in performance sportswear, utilizes heat transfer printing to achieve high-quality prints with precise detailing, enhancing the overall aesthetics of their garments.
  4. Puma: Puma incorporates heat transfer printing to create visually striking designs on their sportswear and athletic apparel, combining style and functionality for their global customer base.
  5. Decathlon: Decathlon, a leading sporting goods retailer, utilizes heat transfer printing for their wide range of products, ensuring vibrant and durable prints on apparel, accessories, and equipment.
  6. Avery Dennison: Avery Dennison is a prominent manufacturer of heat transfer materials, offering a wide range of solutions for textile applications, including heat transfer films and reflective materials.


Heat transfer printing is a versatile and popular method used in the textile industry to apply intricate designs onto fabrics. With various types of heat transfer printing available, manufacturers can achieve high-quality, durable prints on different types of textiles. By following proper handling techniques and considering factors such as temperature, pressure, fabric compatibility, and care instructions, the longevity and appearance of heat transfer prints can be maximized. Leading international brands like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Puma, and Decathlon rely on heat transfer printing to enhance the aesthetics and performance of their sportswear and athletic apparel, while manufacturers like Avery Dennison provide innovative heat transfer materials to support the industry's printing needs.

Heat Transfer Printing
The technique of printing fabrics by transferring a printed design from paper to fabric via heat and pressure. It's derived from the art of daealcomania which is the process of tansferring pictures or designs from specially prepared paper to other materials such as glass. HTP paper is the starting point for heat transfer printing. Transfer printing is used mainly on fine knit fabrics and lightweight fabrics and is rapidly gaining in importance in textile circles. Also being used by apparel makers on parts of gannents to enhance their fashion appeal.
Heat Transfer Printing
A method that transfers designs from rolls of paper to polyester or other thermo-plastic fibers. Designs are preprinted with disperse dyes on paper, and under high temperature are transferred onto fabric when both are passed through a heat transfer printing machine. Disperse dyes are the only ones that can sublimate and therefore are the only ones that can be used. An adaptation of the decalcomania method.

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