T-Shirt Printing (Pressing) – A Cautionary Tale

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T-Shirt printing or pressing with heat transfer vinyl is freakin’ awesome and unlike screen printing it makes for affordable one off t-shirts to be made without having to pay for a run of tees.

There are numerous businesses and private sellers offering T-shirt printing and pressing services out there. It’s nothing new for people to take shortcuts, use the cheapest of materials or method of production, however I’d like to offer a word to the wise.

An array of sellers I have discovered are using cheap imported HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) from China. The type of ‘no brand’ product that cracks, peels and lacks durability. This type of vinyl is not designed to be layered, yet it is being used for this very purpose. To make matters worse, many are heat setting this vinyl with a home iron.

Whilst many great crafters out there use this method for costumes, novelty items or to personalise items, it is not the level of quality and durability people expect to pay from businesses. An iron that is used to heat press a small embellishment, is one thing, but T-shirt printing a design or decal with a home iron is not at all ideal. You simply cannot get the evenly distributed press pressure and heat temperature required, that a flat bed professional heat press provides, from an iron.

Whilst many of these type of sellers appear at markets, Facebook, eBay and Etsy, they are certainly not limited to those sites. A friend’s son purchased a very expensive hoodie from a vendor at a popular pop culture convention. This hoodie decal was digitally printed onto the vinyl transfer and then heat set onto the hoodie. After the very first wash the vinyl decal had cracked and peeled significantly. It wasn’t good. To be honest I’d seen more attractive skin peel on a bad sunburn. Though despite a professional heat press being used on site, the quality of the vinyl was substandard hence the poor durability. A hoodie that looked rad* upon purchase now resembles a crumbly mess and has left the child significantly out of pocket.

Businesses are not without their mishaps. Despite using high quality materials mistakes can happen, albeit rarely, however unlike private sellers, registered T-shirt printing (pressing) businesses are held accountable and must adhere to rules and regulations. This allows for avenues of recourse for consumers should something go awry.

To consumers I say, just because a private seller is offering the same printed or pressed product as a business, does not mean the quality is the same. Forewarned is forearmed. You get what you pay for. [Insert more metaphors than you can poke a stick at here].

That’s my 2c. Yes, I know rounded down means nothing. I said I know geez!

*Yeah I said rad. I’m uber cool you know. Deal with it.

[Disclaimer: Is not at all cool|

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