Printable HTV vs. Heat Transfer Paper

A heat transfer t-shirt hung up on a clothesline.

Are you thinking about making unique DIY t-shirts for yourself and your friends to celebrate some big event or occasion? In that case, you may be wondering about the differences between printable heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and standard heat transfer paper, as well as which one would be the best for you. It can be challenging to tell which method you should use, especially since the two terms are often conflated or used in place of one another by mistake. Keep reading to learn all about both types and the range of advantages and disadvantages that they can both provide.

Related: Best T-Shirt Printing Methods

What is Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)?

Printable heat transfer vinyl is a fantastic way to print your own heat transfers to make shirts, bags, and other fun projects with eye-popping, multi-colored designs without having to go through the process of layering vinyl. However, the investments needed to start using printable heat transfer vinyl are considerably higher than if you were just going to make a few t-shirts with standard heat transfer paper. Printable HTV requires a type of wide-format printer, and inkjet and laser printers will not work. Common printer brands that will work with printable HTV include Mutoh, Roland, and Mimaki, though HP and Epson also make wide format printers. These printers also require special inks, such as Eco-Solvent ink, Solvent, and Latex inks. 

The cost of these printers often starts somewhere around $5,000, so they’re not for people just looking to pull together a few DIY shirts in their free time for fun. They’re more for people looking to start their own t-shirt printing business or expand an already existing t-shirt printing business working on large-scale projects. Those who are not planning on making several hundreds of t-shirts for sale online or in a shop would be better off relying on another method of heat transfer for their designs.

Related: Best Objects to Decorate Using A Heat Press

The Benefits of Printable HTV

A woman wearing a yellow heat transfer shirt reading “All I want from life is pancakes.”

Printable HTV offers a range of promising benefits for those who choose to invest in the equipment and supplies needed for the process. For instance, printable HTV allows DIY t-shirt makers to print decals with tiny details that can include a massive range of colors. Printable HTV is also much more durable than other types of heat transfers, and the designs made with it will often outlive the lifespan of the shirt itself if applied correctly. The designs are also unlikely to chip, peel, fade, or crack over time if taken care of correctly.

Are you looking to create some awesome shirts and bags with a stylish heat transfer vinyl design? Take a look at the tutorials and range of top-quality products Avance Vinyl offers and learn what they can do for you today.

What is Heat Transfer Paper?

Heat transfer paper is part of a more simplistic DIY shirt design creation method that more people can utilize. This is because all it requires is the use of a standard laser or inkjet printer and doesn’t require the purchase of a specialized wide-format printer. Heat transfer paper can also use the same type of ink that you use on regular printer paper, so no special or expensive inks are required. Heat transfer paper will effectively adhere designs onto the same clothes as heat transfer vinyl, including polyester, cotton, and blends

However, it must be noted that the quality of the shirt designs made with heat transfer paper will not be as durable as those made with heat transfer vinyl, which is the primary tradeoff for creating custom shirts so inexpensively. Designs made with heat transfer paper will only last for between 25 to 30 wash cycles if proper care instructions are adhered to, and then the design will start to fade and crack. Unlike designs made with heat transfer vinyl, heat transfer paper designs will not exceed the overall life of the garment their attached to. Despite these drawbacks, heat transfer paper remains one of the most popular methods for DIY t-shirt making for special occasions, such as birthdays, special events, reunions and other family gatherings, and more.

The Benefits of Heat Transfer Paper

A girl wearing a white heat transfer t-shirt reading “NYC.”

Despite their much shorter lifespan than designs made with heat transfer vinyl, using heat transfer paper is one of the most popular DIY shirt creation methods due to how easy and inexpensive the process is to complete. With this process, people don’t have to drop thousands of dollars or more on specially designed printers or inks to make their shirts. All a person needs is some heat transfer paper, a design, scissors, an iron, a shirt, and less than 30 minutes of their time. This process is perfect for those just looking to make a few custom shirts for themselves and maybe a few friends. It’s also a great process that people can do together for fun, and it can be incorporated into birthday parties, casual hangouts, family fun nights, and other special get-togethers. Even if the designs on the shirts don’t last particularly long, they will still leave you with plenty of enjoyable memories.

Related: How to Start Your Heat Transfer Vinyl T-Shirt Business

Printable HTV vs. Heat Transfer Paper: Which is Right for You?

Printable HTV and heat transfer paper are great ways for people to design and customize unique clothes, no matter the occasion. The question of which type of heat transfer process is right for you largely depends on what you’re looking to make and how much. Those planning on making hundreds of awesome t-shirts to sell at an event or on their online store will likely have better luck investing in printable HTV. In contrast, those looking to have an evening of fun with friends would do better with heat transfer paper. Whichever you need, though, please consider checking out the range of top-quality heat transfer products proudly offered by the experts at Avance Vinyl today. Also, feel free to check out their range of quality sublimation products to find out more about all of your heat transfer options.

Do you want to create some totally unique custom shirts for your event, business, or just for the fun of it? Take a look at the top-quality products and expert resources provided by Avance Vinyl today to learn more.

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