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Home » Printers » What is Heat Transfer Vinyl?

What is Heat Transfer Vinyl?

Are you in the t-shirt printing business? 

Then you are undoubtedly familiar with the term heat transfer vinyl; however, if you are not, then this article will give you all the information you might need about heat transfer vinyl.

To start, we first need to know what heat transfer vinyl is. It is merely a method or a material that is very popular as it is used in printing customizable designs on fabrics and garments.

HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl)

HTV is a material made from plastic, and it comes in the form of vinyl sheets or rolls and thus the name heat transfer vinyl. These sheets are either PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PU (polyurethane), and they are attached to clear sheets. Their main use is transferring designs and allowing for the process of printing designs.

They share the same base plastic material with car wraps and signboards; however, HTV used for printing designs on t-shirts is made from the best quality. One of the drawbacks of HTV is that it is only available in a single color t-shirt in multiple colors, which can be a bit expensive. Still, if you are using HTV in printing a design that has multiple colors, for example, then your only solution is to layer different colored pieces of vinyl. They can also be worn, washed, and dried as well.

The Process

It is the simple process of transferring anything, and it can be text, numbers, or even designs and graphics into different fabrics or garments.

It is a straightforward process, where the design needs to be printed on the fabric first then transferred to the vinyl to be cut and adjusted. Then a heat press machine is used to print the design onto the garment or fabric.

What are the Fabrics that can be used?

The main point here is heat and pressure, so if the fabric can withstand those two natural phenomena, then it is suitable. HTV is used with textiles most of the time, for example, cotton and all of its blends such as nylon and polyester-cotton blends. Whenever you purchase ready-made vinyl sheets, a list of all the suitable materials or fabrics will be included.

How to Print HTV?

This is a simple guide for beginners, and it includes the best steps, tricks and tips to get the best out of your HTV, the steps begin with:

Creating the design

Printing it on vinyl sheets


Using a heat press machine

1. Creating the Design

This is the most important step of all. However, if you work in a t-shirt printing business, then most of the customers already know the design they want, which will save you a lot of time and effort. If that is not the case, and you are required to create the design yourself, this requires a lot of creativity as well as knowledge of designing software like, for example, Photoshop. After you have created the design, you will be required to scale it, scaling the design means giving it the right size so that it fits on whatever you are printing it onto. An important thing is that you must realign and flip the design as it will be placed on the back of the vinyl, so it must be flipped.

2. Printing on Vinyl Sheets

This is a straightforward and easy step to execute. First of all, you will need to decide the color that you will use, and then you will need to remove the plastic adhesive design. The vinyl has a shiny side called the carrier, which holds the design together.


Weeding is merely removing the extra paper or adhesive sheet. It is easy to perform and can be done by both amateurs and professionals. However, there are different tools for both of them, amateurs can use scissors or sharp tools like silhouettes, while professional have weeding machines at their disposal called cutters that do the job for them. An extra thing would be that weeding is performed on the adhesive side.

4. Using a Heat Press Machine or Iron Heating

This is the final step after creating the design, printing it on a vinyl sheet, and weeding it. You will need to use a heat press machine or an iron(if you are doing an amateur) to properly print the design onto the fabric or garment. The steps to do so are easy; they are:

  1. Put the design onto the fabric with the glossy side facing upwards.
  2. Put another piece of cloth onto the plastic side.
  3. This step depends on the machine you are using if it is a heat press machine, then you will need to lock the handle firmly. If it is an iron, then make sure it is hot first then press the iron into the design.
  4. Leave it to cool for some time.
  5. Peel of the plastic sheet
  6. A final tip would be not to wash the fabric or garment for 24 hours.

Final thoughts

Finally, it is safe to say that HTV has multiple uses and is very useful for anyone who owns a printing business as they will always utilize it in printing high-quality designs for their customers.

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