When you think about the necessities of a screen printing shop what do you think of? Most likely a screen printing press, ink, and squeegees come to mind. While you definitely need all of these things, any screen printing shop should also think about investing in a vinyl cutter. This tool is amazing for many different reasons, but it especially comes in handy because it gives you the ability to do heat vinyl transfers.
What Exactly is a Vinyl Cutter and What are your Options
As the name states, a vinyl cutter cuts vinyl. While you could cut vinyl by hand, it isn’t the easiest or most efficient way to get the job done. Having a vinyl cutter in your shop allows you to speed up the process and be more exact in your cuts. It especially comes in handy when you need small detailed cuts for vinyl heat transfers. These types of transfers are ideal for placing names and numbers onto sports jerseys.
There are some great options out there for vinyl cutters, but we personally recommend the Graphtec E-Class CE6000 Vinyl Cutter. This cutter offers faster cutting speeds and stronger cutting force than other vinyl cutters on the market. It hooks up to either a MAC or PC and comes with Graphtec Pro Studio Design Software. As an added bonus, it is also compatible with CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator. The Graphtec E-Class CE6000 Vinyl Cutter comes in both a 15-inch and 24-inch option.
Cutting Heat Vinyl Transfers
In order to do the heat vinyl transfers, you will need your vinyl cutter, as well as sheets of vinyl, and a heat press. If you are just getting started in vinyl heat transfers, make sure to check out the starter pack because it has all the components you need.
The first step in doing a vinyl heat transfer is to create the art you will be transferring. In order to do this, you need to use some type of vector art program such as Graphtec Pro Studio Design Software, CorelDRAW, or Adobe Illustrator. In most cases, this will be relatively simple because you will just need to type out the name or numbers you are wanting to print and then choose the correct size for them. You will want to make sure that these images are vectorized, and you will want to mirror the image because you will be plotting in reverse.
Next, you will want to load the vinyl into the vinyl cutter. Make sure to select which kind of media you are using and the blade pressure. Send your design over from your design program to the vinyl cutter and let the machine work its magic!
Applying Heat Vinyl Transfers
After your machine is done cutting, you will want to weed out your images. Cut around your image in order to get a reference point to start from. Use an Exacto knife or a pick to cut and peel away the unneeded vinyl from your art.
Next, load your t-shirt into the heat transfer press and center your vinyl transfer onto the shirt. Press the heat press down onto the shirt and vinyl with medium pressure. Remove the shirt from the press and let it cool for a few seconds. Finally, peel the plastic sheet off of the shirt and you have your vinyl transfer.
Vinyl transfers are just one awesome thing that heat transfers are used for, but if you would like more information on different types of heat transfers check out Printing Multi-Color Heat Transfers and Getting Your Prints Lit with Gold Foil Transfers.