Heat Transfer: 101

July 30, 2018

Heat Transfer: 101

How to prevent scorching or heat press lines on white cotton towels.

First we have to determine what is causing the scorching.To do that you have to go through the process of elimination, the same as you would making any custom project that does not come out the way you want. Check to see if your heat is to high, have you figured out the least amount of time the iron is on the material or the lowest heat you can use and still achieve the affect you want.

Once that has been checked is the white cotton material "over bleached". Most textile companies that make really stark white towels use really strong bleach and lots of it to make really white towels. This creates two problems, one is it shortens the life of the towel. After a few washings if the towels come out of the dryer with holes in them that is from over bleaching. A quality cotton towel should last several years of use, a over bleach towel will not last as long.

The second problem is the yellow marks and lines are from the bleach burning and not the material. The bleach will react to the heat. If you already bought the towel you can try washing and rinsing the towels a couple times then try again. This may or may not help depends how over bleached the towel is.

Next thing to check is the type of material you are using. Is it 100% cotton or blend of poly and cotton. Most flour sack and kitchen towels are 100% cotton. Cotton and a poly blend material will react differently during the heat press process. Does the material have a tight or loose weave. T shirts have a tight weave and a flour sack towel from a large retail box store will have a loose weave. The loose weave will will help disperse the heat, the tight weave like a T shirt will retain it. Knowing this will help as you figure out what is the best heat temperature and time. When you read the directions from the manufacture, if you are using a heat transfer or setting direct to garment inks you will find most manufacturers of equipment, ink and transfers will give you some leeway on heat and time.

Another thing to consider is the room you are working in, high humidity and room temperature will affect the material, this should be taken into consideration. After taking all of this into consideration and still getting scorch marks on your towels.

Use a heat pad when you heat press. You can buy the foam pads already cut into different shapes from companies like Heat Press Nation, they call them "T Pads" or you can go on Amazon and look for "silicone heat transfer foam". This is ideal if you need to heat transfer or set the ink on a lot of items. The way you do this is cut the foam to the shape of your design. Lay the foam on the heat press lower platen, then lay the towel were the design needs to be placed on the heat foam. You can also try a pressing pillow so the heat goes to the design and not the white space on the towel. Non stick sheets are a good thing to try and parchment paper as well to lay on top of the design. I have seen this help with the heat from the upper platen. Once you have a successful design, write it down and follow it every time. In this blog post we have pictures of successful heat transfer on white and colored towels using 365 degree heat for 10 seconds with medium pressure using a heat pad. We used domestic processed towels that are not over bleached. Every design, environment and situation is different you will have to experiment to see what works for you.





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