Tips for Heat Printing Oversized Items

Josh Ellsworth

Josh is the VP of sales, dealer channel for Stahls'. He deals in the sales and implementation of heat-applied, apparel-decorating systems with a focus on customization. He holds skills in the production, sale, and marketing of customized apparel. He presents seminars at trade shows and contributes articles to trade publications, like Printwear magazine.

Oversized heat-printing applications are possible and profitable. Tents and canopies in particular offer tremendous opportunities. Everyone seems to have them at events from sports tournaments to fairs and festivals, but they’re rarely logoed. Customized awnings offer additional, high-visibility signage and also have a higher perceived value.

The most obvious challenge is the size and amount of material involved. Positioning for printing can be tricky. Start by undoing any fasteners so the item is flat, then fold it edge to edge and mark the middle with thermal tape. Use it to center the print area on the platen, and then the design. Tuck excess material under the press.

As with any application, be aware of the substrate. Most of these items are polyester or polyester-faced (which is typically a viable option since laundering is not a consideration); but some are nylon and require a compatible material.

Cutters and roll material are a good way to go, as you can cut the film to the appropriate length, fold it over and crease it in the middle, then match the crease to the center of the placement area. For longer-length designs, press half at a time, carefully sliding the substrate fabric on the platen and making sure the material is flat and all areas are evenly pressed.

Use a nonstick cover sheet and preheat the substrate for just a few seconds to ensure a flat surface and avoid creasing the design. Also take precautions against damaging the fabric face, especially if it’s white or light. Put thermal tape on the backside and make sure cover sheets are clean so residual dye doesn’t reactivate.