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All About X Transfers

All About X Transfers
February 25 2019
When I began working on the X Transfer project, the goal was to create a plastisol ink transfer which would press at the same time, temperature, and pressure as the new Chemica Hotmark Revolution.  This would allow for your press operators to have one transfer setting on their heat press for all decorations.  While this is still the case with cold peel X Transfers, the hot peel version has changed as the X90 paper is no longer manufactured.

Regardless of the paper and application instructions you choose, X Transfers are an opaque, low bleed, stretchy, and soft transfer for use on all fabrics.  The low heat press time and temperature are especially useful to prevent a glossy square on 100% polyester, fabric discoloration on fluorescent tees, and scorching on triblends.

If you have never screen printed your own transfers, please read one of my other blog posts "Screen Printing Transfers” as you will need to know the basics before continuing.  Today I will be talking about the process but not in enough detail for you to create the best prints.

Here is my shopping list:

ELT, ELT-S, or ELT-X Series inks.
ELT Zip Fashion Powder.
Soft Peel transfer paper for hot peel X Transfers
Any cold peel paper or PET for the lowest temperature transfers
110 count screen mesh.
Thermolabels #4 (240ºF to 280ºF)

Although I am recommending a 110 count screen mesh, you are certainly welcome to try a finer screen mesh with all of the same settings.  I had excellent results with 158 and even 196 count screen mesh when I wanted a softer feel.  Be careful, if the ink deposit is too thin, you risk cracking when you stretch or wash.  If you are printing multiple layers of ink on top of each other or using a coarse screen mesh such as 86 or 61, later you may need to extend your heat press time to ensure the adhesive powder will melt properly.  Always test!

The process is much like screen printing a regular ink transfer.  You simply print the ink in reverse and powder the wet ink.  The difference lies in the "gel” settings and the application.  Using our ELT, ELT-S, or ELT-X Series inks allows you to fully cure the ink to the paper in a conveyor dryer.  This happens at a minimum of 250ºF degrees.  You can cure the ink hotter if you would like but the transfer paper will have less distortion and discoloration at this temperature.  Measure with a Thermolabel #4 to be sure you are curing at the correct temperature.  Don't use the Thermolabel on the paper.  Place one on a thin polyester tee.  If you are already an extreme low temperature screen printer, you don’t need to touch that dial.  Your dryer settings are already correct.

Application is simple.  However, depending on your heat press you may have to adjust the settings.  Here are the standard settings I have always suggested:

Hot Peel: 300ºF for 8 to 12 seconds, medium pressure.
Cold Peel: 285ºF for 5 seconds, medium pressure

The hot peel settings used to be 285ºF for 5 seconds.  Unfortunately, the X90 paper which allowed this to happen no longer exists.  Now that this paper isn't manufactured, we have selected the OSI Soft Peel Transfer Paper as it is the lowest temperature release on the market.  If you peel it immediately, you can use the quickest setting of 300ºF for 8 seconds.  This is easy to do with my auto open clam press.  Yet, watching this in action across the country I realized that so many press operators did not move very quickly.  The X Transfers are already pressed at a cool temperature.  Waiting for a few extra seconds causes the paper to grab onto the ink and not let go, ruining the print.  Sometimes it isn’t the operator moving slowly, it is the heat press itself.  I have noticed that many of the high end heat presses take a few extra seconds to load and unload.  Again, if the transfer is not peeled right away, you may have problems.  This is a bigger factor with cotton tees and sweatshirts than it is with tech fabrics.

All you need to do in these situations is extend the press time.  If you know the transfer won’t be peeled right away, add 3 to 5 seconds.  You can increase the heat instead if you would prefer but I like the low temperature to protect polyester from the glossy square so commonly left behind.

Decorators often ask me if a different paper or adhesive powder can be used to make an X Transfer.  It’s possible.  I have tested many products from a number of manufacturers.  I have not found a paper like the X90 to achieve a hot peel X Transfer.  Cold peel is simple and any cold peel paper will work.  Transfer powder is more complicated as they all have different melt temperatures.  The ELT Zip Fashion Powder melts at a very low temperature and you need this to work properly.  Other powders may work but I have not yet found one I am happy with.  Durability, stretch, bleed resistance, and temperature are all factors that the Fashion Powder helps with.  It is really what you want to use.

I have also been asked repeatedly about a printable adhesive for low temperature transfers.  This is simply not possible.  It will never be possible with a plastisol ink.  I am an innovator.  I don’t like saying the word "never”.  However, I say it now as it just doesn’t work that way.  X Transfers are basically gluing the ink to the fabric.  Your print is similar to heat press material.  At a low temperature, plastisol ink is not melting.  Therefor a printable adhesive will not melt and will not adhere to any fabric.

fin

Robb Mears
Director of Product Development

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