By now, we hope you have the gist of heat transfer pape […]
By now, we hope you have the gist of heat transfer paper and sublimation, so let's get down to the nitty gritty and compare these two garment decoration methods in a few important areas.
Startup Costs and Equipment Requirements
Garment decoration via heat transfer paper is one of the least expensive methods for starting out. To get started, you will need an inkjet or laser printer (which you may already have), a heat press, heat transfer paper, and the shirts or garments you'd like to decorate. That's it! A hobbyist heat press will typically run you around $300, and that will be your biggest initial investment. If you don't already have a printer, we would recommend an inkjet for starting out - such as the Epson Stylus Photo C88.
Sublimation carries a higher start-up cost than heat transfer paper, but that cost has greatly come down in recent years. Sublimation starter packages such as the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 contain everything you need to start sublimating - minus the heat press - at a very affordable price. This includes the sublimation printer, sublimation paper, essential software and a sample pack of products you can sublimate. Outside of this, all you need is a heat press, and a hobbyist heat press starts around $300.
For additional information and help picking out your first sublimation printer, check out our other blog, "Which Sawgrass Sublimation System is Right For You?"
Durability and Feel
Sublimation uses a process where the ink becomes part of the fabric rather than adding a layer on top. This results in a transfer that is unmatched in both durability and feel. On the other hand, heat transfer paper adds a layer on top of the garment. This additional layer can be physically felt and is less durable than sublimation and can become faded and cracked over time with numerous wash cycles.
It is important to note that heat transfer papers are not created equally, and you will find some that offer a softer feel and greater durability than other transfer papers. For folks just starting out with an inkjet printer, we recommend JET-PRO Soft Stretch for its soft texture and great durability.
Types of Garments You Can Decorate
With sublimation, you're more limited in the types of fabrics you can decorate compared to heat transfer paper. First, sublimation only works with polyester fabrics. No 100% cotton! This is because sublimation ink only binds to polyester material. You can get away with sublimating on some poly-cotton blends, but the transfer will not be as bright and vibrant as when you use 100% polyester. Because sublimation adds no extra layer on top of the fabric, the material also needs to be white or very light-colored for your transfer to show.
On the other hand, with heat transfer paper, you can decorate on light and dark-colored cotton, polyester and cotton-poly blends.
Sublimation vs Heat Transfer Paper T-Shirt Colors | Coastal Business Supplies
While heat transfer paper may be the clear winner on the types of fabrics (material and color) that you can decorate, remember that sublimation can also be used on a wide range of hard and soft surface substrates. For the most part, heat transfer paper cannot.
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