shoe printing

Heat Printing on Shoes: Recommendations and Helpful Ideas

Cris Saunders is the director of sales for Insta Graphic Systems, a heat press machine and supply manufacturer. 

Chris Pluck has been involved with the imprinting of textiles for more than 30 years. Pluck is the business development director at Insta Graphic Systems.

For more information on Insta Graphic Systems, visit https://www.instagraph.com/about-insta. Read the company's blog at instagraphicsystems.wordpress.com.

Whether it’s a shirt, ball, bag, or shoe, customization is a breeze with the right heat seal machine and custom transfers. Choosing the right transfer to adhere to shoes can be tricky with the various materials used. However, using these helpful tips can increase your revenue with customization from head to toe. 

Things to keep in mind:

  • All heat presses must have three functional and basic elements when applying heat transfers to any substrate: time, temperature, and pressure
  • Remember, your transfer ink cannot think. Don’t ask the heat transfer to adjust itself to suit the substrate or fabric type because it won’t.
  • Never have fine line/microtonal definition graphic transfer images if you want to create an embossed puff image. The two together are not compatible.
  • Heat transfer substrate papers and films have a dominant part to play in producing the best quality heat transfer finish once applied. Transfer adhesion, stretch, texture, and color vibrancy depend on the choice of substrate. Learn all you can about the dual function of substrate and heat transfer compatibility.
  • When applying heat transfer images to shoes, be sure not to place the transfer too close to adjacent shoe trim, laces, or stitched seams as these areas may affect the transfer application and adhesion. The lower platen cannot make adjustments during print application for “hills and valleys." 
  • Press the substrate under the heat press for a few seconds prior to heat pressing the transfer. This pre-pressing can assist the overall quality of the transfer in two ways:
  1. It flattens out the fabric imperfections and provides a smooth surface for the transfer
  2. It helps remove residual moisture inherent in the shoes, which can affect transfer adhesion and wash properties
  • It helps to have the capability of interchanging the lower platen to fit shoes for ease of placement on the side or back of a shoe. 

Take it from us, customization of shoes—of all types—is possible.