The fact that the transfer printing process can be used to achieve high-quality textile printing results with very good wash resistance at very low cost compared to screen printing, direct printing and embroidery has led to this finishing process becoming very well established. In addition to a reliable transfer press, the choice of the right transfer foil is the most important factor in determining how quickly and easily logos, graphics, images and lettering can be processed and printed on textiles and how high-quality the result is in the end. In the following we would like to give an overview of the most important questions in this regard.
Definition Flex Foils
Flex films are transfer films with mostly smooth surfaces, which are offered with different surface designs. Lotus offers almost exclusively films made of environmentally friendly polyurethane. The surface can be made of reflecting glass particles, colored brilliant glitter particles or simply in a matte / glossy color. Printable flex films are white or transparent.
Advantages of flex foils
Flex films are usually offered in a greater variety of colors than flock films, e.g. PS Film is available from Lotus in 54 colors! In addition, flex films are usually cheaper than flock films because they are easier to produce. With flex films you can achieve printing results that are extremely color brilliant, color-fast and very wash resistant without the need to apply them, because they are very thin. With PS film or Hi-5 film you can even realize creative multilayer motifs with up to 3 colors. Almost all Lotus Flex films are Oeko-Tex® certified.
In addition to flex films suitable for all common textile fibers and cutting plotters, Lotus offers a wide range of film solutions for "difficult" textile fibers such as nylon, polyester or extremely stretchy textiles.
Definition of flock film
A flock film is a transfer film with a velvety surface made of PVC or polyurethane with rayon, polyester, viscose or polyamide fibre. Lotus offers you flock films of particularly high quality. Their color brilliance, high wash resistance and covering power as well as easy processing will inspire you. Almost all Lotus flock films are Oeko-Tex® certified.
Advantage of flock films
If you want to leave a particularly high-quality and noble impression, flock films are the best choice. Flock films in neon colors leave a particularly beautiful impression.
Notes on storage of transfer films / textile transfer films
Notes on storageStorage should be at a room temperature of 16 to 21°C and a humidity of 40 to 65%.
All transfer films should be stored upright, especially reflective films. This serves to avoid deformation and marking.
The maximum storage period of films should not exceed one year.
When should films with sublimation barrier layer be used?
Films with a sublimation barrier layer help to prevent discoloration by dyeing polyester yarns. This risk of discoloration exists particularly in jerseys, but also in softshell jackets and, increasingly, in mixed fabrics with a polyester content of more than 10%. The sublimation barrier layer works like a "sponge". It absorbs the escaping color pigments from the polyester fibers until it is saturated. Only then can further discoloration of the upper flex layer occur. This occurs very rarely with the quality films from SISER and POLI TAPE, but can happen in a few exceptional cases. Please also note that a slight coloration may occur at the edge of the plot, as the blockout barrier layer is mechanically cut through (by the plotter) at the edge of the motif and color particles may penetrate into the print transfer. In summary, it can be said that the so-called blockout foils offer the safest protection against discoloration. Our blockout transfer films: PS Subli LT / Turbo-Blockout / Sublithin Matt and Turbo-Print Blockout contain this described sublimation barrier layer. By the way, these so-called blockout films are only used for colored polyester fibers, but not for white polyester fibers. Before starting production, print and wash tests must be carried out.
Which transfer press is the right one?
The fact that high-quality textile printing results can be achieved very cheaply using the transfer printing process compared to screen printing and embroidery has led to this finishing process becoming very well established. Transfer presses are the most important tool for the transfer of logos, graphics, images and lettering onto textiles. In the following we would like to give an overview of the most important questions regarding this.
What is transfer printing?
With the transfer printing process, individual and high-quality textile prints can be produced relatively cheaply. Many people are familiar with these, for example, from the areas of team sports or workwear. So-called transfer presses are the most important tool for this popular form of textile finishing, after all, they provide decisive benefits. On the one hand, they activate the adhesive side of thermally transferable print transfers (e.g. for names, numbers or company logos) with a working temperature of 120°C and above. Such transfers can be plotted or printed and contour-cut transfer foils or screen printing patches, just to name a few possibilities. On the other hand, the presses with their printing ensure that the liquefied adhesive of the transfer can penetrate deep into the textile fabric to be printed and solidly anchor itself during solidification (cooling). Temperature and pressure must therefore be right in order to ensure optimum adhesion of the transfer. Also in sublimation printing, a method of ink transfer without bonding of transfers, the right temperature and pressure determine the success. A successful result in this case is a color brilliant and even print. In the following we would like to give you an overview of some important transfer press equipment features.
What is a transfer press worth?
The perfect heat press should be chosen depending on the clients´ workload, budget and the desired running time. Also important aspects such as quality, safety, support and user comfort as well as replacement pieces are relevant when purchasing a press. Social and economic sustainability are becoming more and more important when investing in durability of machines. The more valued all those previously mentioned aspects are, the more expensive the desired press will be, but also the better workflow users can expect. Our most cost-efficient heat press models are the LTS 38 (printing area of 38x45 cm) for 1.330 euros, and our smallest heat press LTS 12 (printing area of 12x13 cm) for 1.040 euros.
Choosing between a clam and a swivel press
Basically we distinguish between two different opening types of transfer presses: vertically opening (like the LTS 138) and horizontally pivoting (like the LTS 138 b) presses. Vertically opening presses offer the advantage that they allow faster operation due to the shorter functional path (folding instead of swivelling). In addition, the space required is less because no space is needed for lateral swivelling as with a swivel press. A disadvantage is that the textiles cannot be positioned on the printing plate as easily as with a swivel press, whose heating plate can be swivelled away beyond the printing surface. For beginners working with a swivel press (like LTS 138 b) is easier than with a folding press (like LTS 138). Furthermore, a swing press reduces the risk of accidentally touching the heating surface.
Difference between manual, semi-automatic and pneumatic transfer presses?
Manual Presses (Example LTS 138 b) - Manual presses are devices where the transfer process is initiated or terminated manually by lowering or opening the heating plate. The transfer duration is entered manually at the control panel beforehand and the time of unlocking is indicated by a visual or acoustic signal. Manual presses are particularly useful for beginners and thus for small to medium runs. They are less expensive to purchase and still allow professional work.
Semi-automatic presses (e.g. LTS 138 Slide) - Working with semi-automatic or semi-automatic presses is above all more comfortable. Although the heating plate must be lowered manually onto the printing surface, it then opens automatically (thanks to an electromagnet) and even swings to the side automatically on some models. The operator therefore needs less muscle power for opening and swivelling compared to a manual press. At the same time, with a semi-automatic solution, the operator does not need to purchase a compressor, as would be necessary with pneumatic devices. Such presses are also suitable for small to medium runs.
Pneumatic presses (example LTS 750) - are even more comfortable and efficient. They achieve a very high contact pressure. The pressing process is started by pressing a button. After the timer has expired, the device opens automatically without the operator having to pay attention. A higher contact pressure is particularly important for large-area transfers or for certain sublimation pressures where the manual pressure force is no longer sufficient. Pneumatic presses are particularly useful for long runs where the use of manual presses would be too power-consuming. Pneumatic presses usually work with a pressure of 2.5 to 8 bar. A compressor is required for operation. With all the variants described, an increase in productivity can be achieved by purchasing a press with two work tables. While one textile is being printed, the operator can already mount the second one and prepare it for printing.
Why micanite heating technology for transfer presses?
An even, full-surface, constant working temperature is absolutely necessary for a good transfer. If the heating plate does not heat evenly, poor transfer results must be expected. The heating coil technology is very common on the market. Here, one-piece heating elements guided in curves are either built into a heating plate (consisting of aluminum, cast iron or steel) or installed directly on the heating plates. The closer the heating coil curves are led past each other, the better the temperature distribution. In case of a defect, however, the entire heating coil or heating plate must be replaced. In contrast, Lotus uses micanite surface heating elements. These are mainly used where it is necessary to heat a surface quickly, effectively and evenly. The micanite heating technology is characterized by short heating-up times and a long life span of the heating elements. Due to the close laying of the absolutely flat heating conductors, an even, area-wide and optimal temperature distribution is thus guaranteed (see diagram heating coils versus micanite). The optimal adjustment between heating element and heating plate additionally ensures a very long operating life. With Lotus, the heating elements can be replaced individually in case of a defect. The micanite technology saves costs and protects the environment. We recommend an annual check whether the heating temperature distribution of the transfer presses used is still uniform or whether it corresponds to the temperature shown in the display. The easiest way to do this is to use adhesive temperature measurement strips.
How large should the printing area of a transfer press be?
An important basic criterion when buying a press is the size of the printing area.
For exclusively small-format printing, such as for names and labels on breast pockets, smaller manual presses with a square printing area of approx. 12 x 13 cm (for example the LTS 12) are usually sufficient. If you also want to print T-shirts or jackets, for example, you should consider buying a larger press. Very popular are presses that have a slightly larger printing area than DIN-A3, e.g. 38 x 45 cm (LTS 138 b) or 40 x 50 cm (LTS 150 b). The latter are preferred by Sport team outfitters.
For large-format printing on field hockey shirts or even flags, presses are built in even larger formats. Due to the larger printing areas, different construction methods are required here, the implementation of which is more expensive than with smaller formats. An advantage of presses with larger printing areas is that formats from small to large can be printed. From a certain printing format on, for larger print runs or for applications that require a higher contact pressure, the pneumatic models show their advantages (e.g. LTS 690). However, they also require more space than manual models and also a compressor for the supply of compressed air.
Change press yes or no?
If a constant motif size is used, such as a motif for breast pockets, a press with a permanently installed, small, square printing plate - for example 13 x 13 cm - is usually sufficient. If transfers of different sizes are to be printed on textiles of different sizes, it is recommended to choose a press with exchangeable printing plates. A basic principle in the transfer process is that the size of the printing plates should be adapted to the transfer size as best as possible. On the one hand, button plackets, zippers and seams of the textiles to be printed can be protected from unnecessary transfer heat and unnecessary press pressure. On the other hand, this prevents overstretching of the textiles and transfers when the textiles are stretched.
Can I print with transfer presses only on textiles?
With the transfer technology you can not only print on textiles like baseball caps, t-shirts, sleeves, pants, jackets etc., but also on aluminium and magnetic boards, wood, chamois leather, special puzzles, mousepads and many other materials.
How important is precise press measurement technology?
The more precise the measurement technology, the more reliably it can be transferred. Most reliable are devices with precise electronic control and digital display for transfer time and temperature. Devices that only provide periodic data are imprecise and therefore not recommended.
What should be observed for cap presses?
It is important to note that during transfer, the heating plate and the cap face on the printing plate really do sit perfectly on top of each other and the entire surface is supplied with the same heat. Due to the different heights of the front sides, depending on the type of cap, this can only be guaranteed if the pressure shoe on which the cap is mounted can be flexibly adjusted forwards and backwards. This flexibility should also be taken into account for cap sets for exchangeable presses.
How important is a visual pressure display for pneumatic presses?
Pneumatic presses should always have a pressure indicator (see illustration). It facilitates exact settings that can be determined for different jobs. These can then be carried out more easily by different users.
What does CE marking mean for transfer presses?
The EU requires all European manufacturers and such companies that import transfer presses from outside Europe, for example, to comply with certain safety regulations. The corresponding conformity is documented by the companies with the CE marking. Buyers should bear in mind that the suppliers themselves prove the conformity of the equipment. This is therefore not an independent certificate as is the case with the TÜV, for example. In fact, not every device is equally safe. Prospective buyers should therefore form a picture of whether the desired press actually corresponds to the German safety standard and inquire with the dealer, if uncertainties exist.
Why printers and cutting plotters from Roland DG?
Roland DG Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of large format printers, UV printers, cutting plotters, direct textile printers and much more. The name Roland DG stands for outstanding digital printer performance, reliability, service and support. Roland large format printers include a wide range of technologically advanced yet user-friendly color printers. Products with print and cut functions are designed to meet the diverse needs of the graphic arts industry and professional photography. After more than two decades, Roland DG is still the market leader in the outdoor printing segment and the industry leader in vinyl contour cut technology thanks to continuous innovation. Roland cutting plotters enable sign making and graphics professionals to produce large format signs, vehicle decals, stickers, hot transfer textiles and more.
Why do you need the registration marks on the cutting plotter?
Registration marks are always needed if you want to cut or contour-cut a print template exactly. Contour cutting means a precisely fitting cut at the outer edge of a motif. After the design of the motif, e.g. a label, the graphic including the registration marks is printed. This printout is now inserted into the Roland or Summa plotter. (Without the fiducial reading the cutting plotter would not cut exactly where you want it to. The reason for this is that there is some freedom when entering the print template. So the template can be moved a little to the right or left when you create it. This causes the cut to be offset to the print and it would not hit the contour). Thanks to the intelligent fiducial mark reading, the cutting plotter can recognize how the print template is positioned and can thus calculate the contour cut precisely.
Are register marks required for easy cutting of films?
No, for the simple cutting of any kind of foil no register mark recognition is required. Regardless of whether you want to produce wall tattoos, label cars, personalize textiles or perform other cutting tasks. For this application you do not need any fiducial recognition. It is only required if you want to contour cut pre-printed graphics, such as stickers, labels, etc.
Is there a powerful graphics software also available for free?
The Inkscape software offers the user some good basic features and is available free of charge. For many applications, the software can be an alternative to paid services like CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator. However, with this cutting plotter software you have to do without a certain comfort. For example, Inkscape does not support register marks and no layer function.
When to change the cutting bar?
The cutting bar is a wearing part of every cutting plotter. If handled carefully, a cutting bar can last a very long time. If the bar is clearly worn and therefore uneven, it must be replaced. Due to the pressure of the knife, which acts through the material to be cut, a groove forms in the cutting bar after some time. Even then the cutting bar should be replaced.
How long does a knife blade last?
It always depends on the use of the blade and how you treat it. When cutting reflective transfer foil or flock foil with a cutting plotter, you naturally have much more wear and tear than when cutting simple vinyl foil. For this reason it is not possible to give an exact specification.