The Process: Vinyl Heat Transfer
HOW YOUR STUFF GETS MADE.
Like most things Vinyl Heat Transfer starts with you and your idea. The possibilities are vast. You can start with an idea and bring it to life in our Design Builder or you can get inspired by all of the awesome clip art that we have available for you. We can also use designs that you've already created. Take a look at our Artwork Checklist to see if your designs are ready for print. This process is not meant for large quantities. It's most useful for small simple designs and personalizations like names and numbers on the backs of jerseys.
Now that the creative juices are flowing it's time to process the art work. Common image files are raster. Typically we like to use vector images. They produce nice, clean edged prints. Raster works fine for some designs. If you use our Design Builder the designs will be good to go. If you have any questions about art work you've created your self (hand drawn, pictures, etc) let us know and we'll get it done for you.
Vector images are made of paths (lines) and anchors (nodes) instead of pixels. If you've ever zoomed in on a a digital photo youve probably noticed that as you do it gets blurry (pixelated). With vector files there is no blurriness. No matter how much you zoom in it will always have clean edges. Taking a .jpeg or any other image files and saving it as a .pdf, .ai, or .svg vector file does not make it a vector file. It needs to be redrawn or converted by one of our designers for it to become a vector file.
Our heat transfer specialist preps the cutting bot for duty. This robot has a long roll of a thin durable vinyl film in it. The roll has two layers. There is the vinyl layer which is the part that will end up on your apparel and the "backing" which we will explain in a bit. The specialist calibrates the machine. They check the blade and make sure it is set to the correct cutting pressure. Some materials are thicker than others and so it requires some fine tuning. The vector files gets sent to the robot. The robot cuts along the paths according to the vector image. It cuts through the first layer, the vinyl, but not the backing.
Now that the machine has finished cutting the piece of the vinyl is separated from the roll. At this point the piece still looks whole with the exception of some very thin lines where the machine made cuts. Diligently, the specialist removes the unwanted pieces of vinyl, the negative space, and leaves the parts of the vinyl we want on the backing. This process is called "weeding". Complex designs are discouraged because it takes a lot of time for the machine to cut the vinyl and for the human to weed, which is both inefficient and uneconomical.
Everything is now ready for the final step which is to apply the heat transfer to the garments. The shirt gets placed on a heat press (it's like a huge panini maker). The human carefully places the transfer on to the apparel making sure it's in the right spot. They then close the press which applies lots of pressure and heat. This ensures the heat transfer stays on garment permanently. If the design requires more than a single color this process is repeated for each color used.
The garments get taken to quality control where they check to make sure everything is suitable. They make sure the placement of the design is correct and, if there is personalization, that the names and numbers are correct. If their ocular orbs (eyes) don't spot any mistakes, your order get's shipped out to you! Or you can pick it up in store, it's up to you.