How to Heat Press DTF Transfers

Heat Press Image

What You Need

Heat Press

  • For shirts and other items, you can purchase a standard hobby heat press for as little as $250 (HTVront 15" x 15" automatic). A good commercial quality heat press will set you back at least $600 for a small, 15" platen version. The press shown here is a Ricoma and can be purchased for @ $700. It has a nice 16" x 20" platen and digital controls.
  • For neck labels (shirt tags), you will need a special platen or you will need to turn the shirt inside-out. Our customers have had excellent results using a Cricut EasyPress mini ($39 on Amazon).
  • For hats and caps, purchase a heat press machine with a curved plate specifically designed for this job. Optionally, you can try using a Cricut EasyPress, but there are better options for around the same cost.

Transfers

Start with a good source for DTF Transfers. You can get a free transfer here.

Transfer Papers

T-seal paper is recommended to place between the upper platen and actual transfer film to create the best soft-hand and durability for shirts while protecting your heat press. You can also use Teflon fabric or parchment paper. Other forms of fabrics are not recommended.

Transfer Settings

Medium to firm pressure is ideal for pressing most materials. You may have to adjust as you go. It's best to start with an old sample fabric until you get everything correct. 

 Cottons

  1. 290°F - 325°F
  2. Pre-press t-shirt 5 seconds
  3. DTF press for 10 - 12 seconds
  4. Pull transfer and re-press for 5 seconds

Polyesters (Activewear) Settings

  1. 270°F - 290°F
  2. Pre-press t-shirt 5 seconds
  3. DTF press 7 - 10 seconds
  4. Pull transfer and repress 3-5 seconds

BMatte™ Paper Settings

  1. 250°F - 260°F
  2. Press DTF transfer for 7 seconds
  3. Pull transfer and repress 3-5 seconds

Additional Notes

Most fabrics require a pre-press for 5 seconds to draw out moisture and to remove wrinkles to allow for a nice smooth surface. Moisture in the fabric may eventually shorten the life of your graphics if overlooked.

  1. Check your heat press on occasion for temperature accuracy. This is easy to do with an electronic heat temperature gun from a home improvement store (under $40). Check each corner and the center of the upper platen. You should be within 10°F - 15°F of the press readout.
  2. Press cotton & polyesters using a medium pressure on your heat press
  3. Always place your transfers glossy side up
  4. RagMill™ transfers are cold-peel. Use a "shallow pull - don't pull up, pull across.  Start pulling in area where the ink coverage is more significant rather than the opposite
  5. For BMatte™ paper, rub transfer immediately after being pulled off the press with a hand applicator until cooled (about 20 seconds)

Remember, all heat presses and fabrics are different. Even transfers can vary due to things like the amount of ink coverage on the transfer, especially white inks which tend to be printed a little heavier for darker fabrics.  Always test first with a sample transfer on an old shirt.

Using an Iron or Cricut Minipress

Using an Iron

There are simply to many irons to recommend a correct setting for. Also, the amount of pressure to use and the amount of time pressing are not easily measurable. You will have to experiment, but we have heard from our customers that it is not difficult to do. Use the heat press instructions above as a guideline.

Ideally, your iron will let you set the temprature to 300°F. Use a firm pressing motion along with parchment paper to protect your iron. Use an old shirt or piece of cotton fabric with a "Mug" size transfer to practice and keep your cost down. 

Using a Cricut®

There are several different machines that should work for consumer use. Settings will vary based on which machine you own. Commercial users should opt for a heavy-duty press. Cheaper presses can be purchased for as little as $150. Good quality, commercial presses start at around $600 and will have readouts for temperature and time and possibly pressure as well.

If you use a hand-held Cricut®, be sure to press on a solid, smooth and flat surface that does not give. A folding table will produce poor quality shirts since the small mountains and valleys of the surface will not permit even pressure of the transfer into the fabric. This will also take much more practice to get the same kind of results you will get from a true heat press. 

Additional Information

Be sure to read our DTF White Paper to learn more.

Questions?

Contact support at ragmill.com