What Are Screen Printed Heat Transfers?

Screen printed heat transfers (also called “plastisol transfers” because of the plastisol based inks used) are a popular printing method that is used to create high-quality designs and graphics that can be transferred onto a variety of surfaces such as t-shirts, hats, and more. In this article, we will explore the history of screen printed transfers, the equipment needed to create and apply them, the best materials to use with them, their strengths and limitations, and examples of places you may have seen screen printed transfers without even knowing it.

History of Screen Printed Transfers

Screen printing dates back to ancient China, where silk mesh was used to create stencils for printing patterns onto fabric. Over time, this technique evolved into the modern screen printing process that is used today. The first screen printed heat transfer was created in the 1960s, and the technique quickly gained popularity for its ability to create high-quality prints quickly and efficiently.

Minimum Order and Equipment Needed

Most screen printing companies require a minimum order of around 50 to 100 transfers, making it a cost-effective option for larger orders. The equipment needed to create screen printed transfers includes a screen printing press, screens, squeegees, and transfer paper. To apply the transfers to t-shirts or other materials, a heat press is needed, which uses heat and pressure to transfer the design onto the material.

Best Materials to Use with Screen Printed Transfers

Screen printed transfers work well with a variety of materials, including cotton, polyester, and blends. For the best results, it is recommended to use a high-quality, smooth fabric that can withstand the heat and pressure of the heat press.

Strengths and Limitations of Screen Printed Transfers

Screen printed transfers offer a high-quality print that is durable and long-lasting, making them a popular choice for creating custom t-shirts and other apparel. They also allow for a high level of customization, with a wide range of colors, finishes, and materials available. However, screen printed transfers do have some limitations, including the need for a minimum order and the inability to print small, intricate details.

Outsourcing Custom Transfer Printing

For those who do not have the equipment or expertise to create screen printed transfers, outsourcing to a professional printing company is a great option. Many screen printing companies offer custom transfer printing services, which can be a cost-effective solution for those looking to create high-quality custom apparel without the need for expensive equipment.

Examples of Places You May Have Seen Screen Printed Transfers

Screen printed transfers are used in a variety of applications, including custom t-shirts for businesses, sports teams, and schools. They are also commonly used for promotional items such as tote bags, hats, and more. If you’ve ever attended a sporting event or concert, chances are you’ve seen screen printed transfers used on merchandise such as t-shirts and hats.


Screen printed transfers are a versatile and cost-effective printing method that is popular for creating high-quality custom apparel and promotional items. With a wide range of colors, finishes, and materials available, screen printed transfers offer a high level of customization and durability, making them a great choice for businesses, sports teams, and individuals looking to create custom merchandise.