A Case for Adding Heat Transfer Vinyl to Your Wide-Format Business
Not everyone is aware of the duality of owning a wide-format printer. Most people upgrade to these machines over the years in order to solve a specific need within their company. A common scenario is a printing business purchasing a wide-format printer to offer custom printed wraps, decals, or some sort of adhesive vinyl. But what if I told you that you can do much more with that wide-format printer?
Wide-format printers run on tried and tested ink technologies. Eco-solvent, sublimation, latex, and UV inks are the main players in the market. The beauty of owning one of these cutting-edge pieces of equipment is that the ink technologies they run on have been widely adopted by the consumables industry. This allows you to print on a variety of substrates and roll media.
If you own a roll-to-roll wide-format printer of the aforementioned ink technologies and use it for just one task, then you are in for a treat. These printers can do much more than just print on sign vinyl. As I previously mentioned, there are tons of options in the market for your printer when it comes to roll media. The case I am making today is that one of these options is heat transfer vinyl.
What is Heat Transfer Vinyl?
Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) is relatively similar to sign vinyl, with the main difference being that the glue only activates when heated. HTV is mostly used across the world in apparel decoration, but it can be applied to much more. Nowadays, just like sign vinyl, HTV comes in colors and digital printing versions. We are here to focus on the printable versions of HTV, which are compatible with most wide-format printing inks.
I think you know where I am going with this. Why use the printer for one task when you can accomplish two? After all, wide-format printers are expensive pieces of equipment that need to be printing consistently to become a great investment. So, by utilizing your wide-format printer for printable HTV you are increasing the potential of your investment and expanding your business at the same time.
There will always be a need for apparel decoration. Chances are that your business gets a consistent number of inquiries for apparel. If that's the case, using your wide-format printer to address this need becomes the path of least resistance. The only thing you need to do is get yourself a roll of digital printing HTV and a heat press. Yes, a heat press.
As I mentioned before, HTV only activates when subjected to heat, and a heat press is the best way to work with any HTV. When it comes to heat presses you get what you pay for, so I advise getting a good heat press from a reputable brand with a nice warranty. After all, a good heat press will only cost you a small fraction of what your wide-format printer costs, but will provide your business with a new income stream. This will make your life easier, as a good heat press can last you decades and provides consistent heat which is key to making quality apparel with HTV.
Benefits Of Using Heat Transfer Vinyl
Now there are certain misconceptions about HTV. You may think it's a lot of extra work, or you hear of the frantic "weeding" other businesses must do. In reality, working with digital printing HTV is no different from what you may be doing with sign vinyl . With any printed media, there will be contour cutting, and some excess material may have to be removed but that's all part of the process. And just like with sign vinyl, the graphic needs to be masked before application. In a way, it's like printing stickers, with the added step of applying them to a garment before delivering them to the customer.
When you think about it, it's not much different from what you may be currently doing. And I am aware that this may not apply to everyone reading this article, but I think it can create immense value for the ones that it does. So now that we have established that adding HTV to your wide-format printing business is easier than you may think, I invite you to go set yourself up for success and get a roll of digital printing HTV and a heat press. Do some research, talk to your sales reps, and contact manufacturers if needed. There are many options for digital printing HTV, with some being compatible with different ink technologies so asking never hurts.
Luis Arana is an account executive for B-Flex America, an Italian heat transfer vinyl manufacturer. A creative at heart, Arana strives to inform his clients and readers about best practices in the garment decoration industry through his LinkedIn account and collaborations with industry platforms.