Simple Guide to screen printing Plastisol Transfers
Plastisol Transfer are a great way to make your screen printing business more flexible and reactive to customer need especially when you receive repeat orders of the same design. Instead of printing direct to the garment, you print onto a transfer paper which can be heat pressed onto the garment at a later date.
How do you make a single colour transfer?
Prepare your screen, coat the print side (side closest to the garment) 3 times and squeegee side at least once with emulsion (using a dual cure emulsion). If you are using one of our WPS Essential coating troughs then you can use the thick edge which will give you thick covering of emulsion in one coat. Remember to fill the trough at least ¾ full – you don’t want to run out of emulsion.
The artwork needs to be mirror image. Expose the screen (note – you will need to increase exposure time when adding additional coats of emulsion). Check our exposure troubleshooting guide.
Tape up the screen and register on your press as per normal.
In this article I am printing onto a dark garment using WPS Premium Cotton White Plastisol Ink, we recommend that you use the high opacity inks rather than mixing inks. When printing transfers you need a thicker deposit of ink compared to a direct print. We are using a squeegee with a 65 durometer blade (soft square cut blade) as we need a good deposit of ink to go through the mesh (using a 43T with white mesh).
Spray some hi-tak down on the platen, alternatively you can use a vacuum board as the paper needs to be kept firm on the platen.
Place the transfer paper on the platen and make sure it is firmly positioned. In this article we are using cold peel transfer paper which gives us a heavier deposit of ink than hot peel paper (we will discuss the differences in a later article). You can print on either side of the paper.
Flood the stencil with ink and print as per normal – one of the reasons of having extra coats of emulsion is to give a thicker stencil. We don’t want to utilise print / flash / print steps when printing transfers, we want as much ink to go through in one print stroke.
Lift the screen, you will see the printed paper.
You now need to cover the print with transfer adhesive powder, this ensures that the ink adheres to the garment. Cover all of the ink with a fine coating of powder, in this article I have simply poured the powder from the tub – you can use sugar / salt shakers, there are many techniques for powder application. I am often asked about not using a transfer adhesive powder – it is possible to get a good result without the powder but it is rather hit and miss.
Make sure all of the ink is covered with powder, then put the excess powder back in the pot. The next step is to touch dry the ink – in this article I have used a heat press setting the heat platen at least 2-3 mm from the ink (temp on the heat press set to 180 degrees C and for 10 secs – just enough to tough dry the ink). If you are producing lots of transfers it is best to use a tunnel dryer – you set the belt speed high, you do not want to cure the ink.
When you have your printed transfer you can file them away (keep dry and avoid humidity) and heat press onto the garment a year or so later.
When you are ready to apply the transfer, place the paper on the garment (print facing down). I am using a clam heat press but swing away heat presses work just as well. Set a tight pressure and heat press (180 degrees C for 20 – 30 seconds depending on how good your heat press is, you might have to experiment to get the right results).
After peeling back the paper you are left with the end product, a very opaque and soft hand print.