We are getting closer to the winter season
and the temperatures have started to drop in Western Europe
fast. The cold
wind is picking up and I’m getting the
driveway ready for Santa and his reindeer pulled sled to come and join us. We definitely don’t want to miss him this
year. When the cold arrives, we should be ready to warm up with some hot Chocó
and a burning fireplace.
On the subject of getting warmer I
immediately thought of
calanders and heat presses for the textile industry. Dye
sublimation is becoming a big standard in the textile industry today and the
need for information is bigger than ever before. Today more people are starting
to use sublimation technology than ever before and not only sportswear and
fashion for but now also for soft-sign and home interiors.
Some are using dye
sublimation for ridged and promotional items, with great success I might add.
As you can see this is only the beginning of a
new and thriving industry.
There are many interesting choices you
will need to make if you want to start in this new printing world. Questions
like, are you using paper transfer or are you printing directly to the fabric.
Dye sublimation becomes more complex with the choices you make and choosing the
right heat press becomes even more difficult.
The world of heating devices trend to
become a bit like a forest where there is only one tree that would fit your
company, but which tree is the right one.
Choices, choices and more choices.
So let’s talk about the basics of heat
press technology, there are currently 3 types of heat presses on the market.
Oil or infrared based drums, indirect infrared heating ovens and the last is
the heated flatbed by electrical resistors inside the pressing plate.
If we start with the
Oil based drums they are originally made for the Roll-to-Roll markets for
lamination, bonding and engraving/embossing textiles. These units where really never
really developed for the dye sublimation markets.
Many modifications had to be made to make it suitable for the textile
dye sublimation markets. Today they are newly developed for this market. Many changes
in the roll up and -off feeders have been added or changed and much better
temperature control has been implemented.
So why a drum? Well, if we want to have a stable heat signature across
the whole width, the oil based devices are the most stable around. When it
comes to heat distribution a drum is the best you can get. This is important
for Dye sublimation as we want to have preferably the same color edge to edge coming
off the press. So need to have a great amount of stored energy in the calander
to make this work.
Oil is a great holder
of energy and this combination of a drum and the oil makes it right. The constant temperature makes this the best
device for all roll to roll transfer and direct printing sublimation.
As Roll-to-Roll devices can also use a placement table in front of the
heat press. Than, the machine can be used for layup processing off pre-cut
shapes for sportswear.
The transfer paper becomes the conveyer belt for the fabric. Pre-Cut
shapes are placed on the right spot and your items will be sublimated. (more on
finishing in the near future)
Kieverik Roll-to-Roll Calander
Monti Antonio Calander
Clam Shell Press
By the way when we talk about sportswear is more than this, we include
winterwear, swimwear, beachwear and all the other wear’s.
OK, how about the Infrared heated drum? Infrared units have some
benefits for smaller productions, on one point it’s a lot cheaper in the
acquisition of the press, it can heat up and down really fast due to the lower
residual heat in the drum and its mostly less heavy so it can be placed almost
This means you don’t need the enormous energy consumption to heat up
the oil for storing like in the oil based drums. Trust me the oil based drums
do consume a lot of power, but for large productions this is ok, smaller
productions you could think of using an infrared device. Just one warning, make
sure you have the right quality Nomex belt on the press. You will be sorry if
there is a cheap belt on your heat press.
Let’s, talk about the
They were designed for the garment industry to dry the screen inks on
t-shirts and polo’s. With some internal modifications
the temperature was raised to the dye sublimation work regions of 195 Celsius and
now it works. The big disadvantage here is that the heat dissipates very fast
and there is little consistency in the overall heating. Great for drying screen
printed garments but for dye sublimation, I would need more stability to
guarantee the quality. I would not
advise this type of press to anybody.
Last but not least the flatbed heat press, this is a great combination
for flexible and ridged substrates. If you are in to the ridged media, think
photographic images on metal, wood or other polyester coated medias this is
You can also use it for sportswear pieces and layup shapes. The
sizes of these presses are sometimes impressive, did you know that snowboards, 2.5
meter ski’s and even big metal wall coverings are made with flat presses. Many other winterwear items are also made
this way. Yes, it’s all printed with dye sublimation transfer paper,
transferred on the substrate. to till like. He an thing rapid these
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Flat presses are also
found in round shapes, yes strange but think about sublimation mugs or 3D
objects. Sublimation on mugs has been a big business around the holiday seasons
for many years.
You would need a flat press technology in a different shape it’s
If there is no solution, think about using a
kitchen air fryer, yes it works setting it up for 195 degrees and 30 min you
can sublimate your mugs and other items.
Yes, a Phillips Air fryer is nothing
else than an infrared oven, just smaller and cheaper.
But let’s keep it
There are more uses for flatbed presses outside the dye sublimation
world. For example, if you are a small shop and you would like to sell names
and numbers for the back of a garment in sportswear, you could use a small
desktop flock cutter, cut the number and use a small sized heat press to place
these on the garment.
There are many types and kinds but the alligator mouth (image) and the
straight down ones are the common types.
Last but not least, small flatbed presses can also be used as a color
testing press. So you don’t need to heat up the big press for just a color
management session. The advantage of smaller heat presses, if you buy a good
one, are the constant temperature across the whole heating area due to the fact
that the electric resistors that heat the plate are inside the metal part.
The result is lots of choices, lots of prices and lots of possibilities.
Just remember that you can see and play with the right calander at your local expert
else go to the heat press manufacturer to see the product you want to buy. He
will be able to give you the support needed. If not get well informed, what you
will produce today and possible tomorrow. How much space do you have, are you
goint to print on 3 or 5 meter wide printers.
Please invest in knowledge before entering in
a black hole.
Better save than sorrow.
Remember one important thing, a calander is a 10-15 year lifetime device
that does not need to be replaced fast, its low on maintenance and you only need
to change the belt every few years only if you produce a lot. So it’s a capital
investment like a house.
Buy and invest in the right size just like you would do if you bought a
Just remember if you’re buying a home, get one with a fireplace as you
need a place to hang all your newly textile printed stockings next Christmas.
I wish you all a happy holiday season 2020.
till next Christmas
(yes im the first one 🙂 )