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How to Heat Print Bags

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Find out the best heat transfer graphics to use when printing bags.

Find out the best heat transfer graphics to use when printing bags.

Learn how to heat print tote bags, sports bags and more. Heat printing is an ideal way to create custom bags for your customers. Even though bags, especially polypropelene or nylon bags, are normally considered difficult to screen print, it’s easier than ever to use a heat press. You just have to know a few tips and techniques, as well as the correct heat transfer vinyls or heat transfers to use. You will also need to have a few accessories on hand. This how-to video from Stahls’ TV shows you everything you need to know. It’s titled “The Complete Guide to Printing Bags” and it’s worth your while to watch. Why? Because custom bags are an excellent way to expand your product offering and sell more to your current customers.

Customer Spotlight Branding Matters!

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Great to see Branding Matters! of Sugarland, Texas featured in the Feb. 2017 Impressions Magazine.

Great to see Branding Matters! of Sugarland, Texas featured in the Feb. 2017 Impressions Magazine.

I recently read an article in the February Impressions Magazine, Life’s Calling, by Managing Editor Lauren Mitchell Volker. It featured the Texas-based company Branding Matters! and I was very impressed with their success story and commitment to customer service. When owner Suzanne Whatley mentioned that the reason she got into custom garment printing was to make sure every girl on a softball team had a uniform, I recognized a kindred spirit. Even after all these years in the custom garment business, there’s still nothing that replaces the look of a child receiving a custom jersey. It symbolizes belonging, being a team member; it builds pride and confidence. According to the Impressions article, after completing that first youth league order, it wasn’t long before Branded Matters! outgrew the garage. Using mostly word of mouth advertising, Suzanne and her team quickly grew the business to include 100 clients within a few years. They also rely on social media marketing via Facebook, as well as networking with groups and businesses in the community. One very interesting marketing campaign we saw on their Facebook page seems to be a monthly car wash event at the shop. Talk about “out of the box” thinking.  During a follow up phone call with Suzanne, we learned she is planning to expand further in the near future. And it turns out that industry consultant (and longtime friend of Stahls’) Charlie Taublieb is Suzanne’s mentor. “Charlie has taken me under his wing. When we were converting the shop from an old gas station, he helped us set it up and he continues to provide guidance.”  Suzanne also mentioned that 45% of their custom business involves heat printing. “Charlie insisted that we have a way to do one-offs, and we do that with a printer/cutter (Roland TruVIS VG-540), a Brother Direct to Garment Printer and three Hotronix heat presses.” When asked what type of heat printing they do most often, Suzanne replied instantly, “GLITTER, in every color you sell!” Suzanne also remarked that the quality of heat transfer vinyls have come so far in the past years. “We use heat transfer vinyls for so many jobs, especially one-offs. We can sell one-off custom glitter shirts for $25 all day long, even if we are probably undercharging.” But as she mentions in the Impressions article, Suzanne realizes that the ability to say yes to every customer is one of the shop’s core values and the foundation of its success. We look forward to seeing Branded Matters! continue to grow and serve more customers with the passion and attention to detail for which they are known.

Branding Matters! owner Suzanne Whatley pictured with industry guru and mentor Charlie Taublieb. Whatley credits Taublieb with helping her expand and grow the business.

Branding Matters! owner Suzanne Whatley pictured with industry guru and mentor Charlie Taublieb. Whatley credits Taublieb with helping her expand and grow the business.

Great examples of Branding Matters! high quality custom work.

Great examples of Branding Matters! high quality custom work.

An "out of the box" marketing campaign with a local car washing company brings customers to Branding Matters!

An “out of the box” marketing campaign with a local car washing company brings customers to Branding Matters!

As Suzanne says, GlitterFlake is one of Branding Matters! most frequently requested finishes.

As Suzanne says, Glitter Flake heat transfer material is one of Branding Matters! most frequently requested finishes.



Easiest Way to Start a Clothing Line

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Start your own clothing line

Start your own clothing line with a heat press and custom transfers.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own clothing line, here’s one of the easiest ways to get started. All you need is a heat press, a computer (or phone) and custom screen printed transfers. You don’t need any additional equipment, you don’t need to learn how to create artwork. What many people don’t realize is that custom heat transfers, when applied correctly, have the appearance of high quality screen printing. In fact, it’s virtually impossible for most people to tell the difference between a shirt that has been printed using a custom transfer and one that has been screen printed directly. This short video from Stahls’ TV shows you how easy it is to print your own clothing line using custom transfers.

Buying a Heat Press

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Buying a heat press

If you are in the market for a heat press, here is what you need to know.

If you are in the process of buying a heat press, there are technical aspects to consider, as well as work space constraints and how you plan to use the press. You don’t want to purchase a press and then discover you need to upgrade a month later. You want a reliable press that’s exactly right for the items you plan to print. It’s in your best interest to learn as much as possible before you buy. Let’s get started.

1. How large is your work space?

When choosing a press, consider your work space. If you have limited space, you will want to consider a clam style (opens upwards) or a draw press. These models will require ideally two feet of counter space. If you are considering a swing-away model, it’s best to have at least three feet. It’s always a good idea to have room next to the press to layout your garment and to place finished garments. If you don’t have counter space for your heat press, you can consider using a free standing heat press caddie or stand like the one available from Hotronix. But even with a caddie, you will still need a table or counter space in order to prepare the garments for printing.

Stahls' Heat Press caddie

If you don’t have a counter, this heat press caddie is an excellent option.

2. What types of garments are you planning on printing?

The type of garments you plan to print will also play a role in the size of the press that is best for your business. If you want to print oversize sweatshirts, large sports jerseys or jackets, you will want a press that has a platen size of 16″ x 20″. If you are only printing t-shirts or children’s clothing, you should be fine with a 16″ x 16″ size platen. Hotronix presses feature interchangeable platens when you need to go smaller, but remember it is only the lower, non-heated platen that you are changing out. You can’t go any larger than the size of the upper, heated platen.

3. Do you plan to travel with your heat press?

If you want to take your heat press to events, such as sports or other tournaments, you will want to consider the portability and weight of your press. For some businesses this may mean purchasing one press for the shop and one for travel.

4. What’s the best heat press style?

In general there are three main types from which to choose, clam, swinger and draw press. With the swinger type, the top platen of the press is designed to swing to the left or the right, allowing a heat-free workspace on the lower platen. Clam models open on an upward angle over the lower platen. Clam models are very popular because they are usually the least expensive and take up the least amount of space in the workplace. Stahls’ Hotronix has designed their clam models with auto opening features and the widest possible opening, so they are the best clam model on the market. However one potential drawback to using a clam model is that the work surface below the platen can become hot, and it is more difficult to arrange graphics on shirts while they are on the press. The swing away model was invented to prevent this from happening. Several years ago, Stahls’ Hotronix introduced a third style of press, the industry’s first draw-type heat press. The draw press allows the user to pull the lower platen towards himself and then push it back in for printing. This design innovation was recognized as a space-saving idea, since one of the cons of owning a swinger-style press is that you need more counter space. Here is a handy comparison chart for heat presses.

Let’s move on to the technical considerations. There are reasons that some presses cost more than others. In the world of heat presses, the saying “you get what you pay for” is generally true.

Not All Heat Presses Are Created Equal—Here’s What To Look For:

1. State of the Art Heating Element and Thick Platens for Even Heat

One of the most frequent causes of misapplied graphics is cold spots in the platen. Cold spots occur when there is not enough heating element used in the manufacturing of the platen, or if there is a short or disconnect in the heating element within the platen. All Hotronix® presses feature cast-in, tubular cal-rod heating element spaced every 2” throughout the platen to ensure even heat. Plus, the thick, ¾” platens retain heat better and longer than cheaper, thinner platens.

2. Solid State Temperature Controller for Accurate Heat

In order to maintain accurate heat, Hotronix heat platens feature cast in cal-rods positioned in a zig-zag pattern throughout the entire platen. Before installation, the heating element is x-rayed to ensure functionality and maintain the highest levels of accuracy.  In addition, Hotronix presses are controlled by a solid-state controller that gives the user a digital display of both temperature and time.

3. Over the Center Pressure Adjustment to Ensure Even Pressure

The key to even pressure when you are heat printing is dependent on the way the upper platen is engineered.  Hotronix® presses feature a patented “over-the center” pressure adjustment knob, coupled with a flotational heat platen to ensure a “no-pinch” application result regardless of the thickness of your garment.

4. Wide Opening and No Greasy Exposed Parts For Easy Garment Placement

You need to be able to easily slide garments on and off your heat press without burning your arms and hands and without damaging the garments on screws or greasy bolts. Hotronix® clam presses have a wide 65 degree opening, which is 10% wider than most other clam-style presses available today. This allows for safer, easier positioning of the garment on the lower platen, as well as safer positioning of transfers and other graphics. Taking things a step further, consider whether or not the press offers “threadability.”  The Stahls’ Hotronix® Fusion, which can be used as a swing away or draw style press, is designed to provide 360 degree access to the bottom platen, making it easier than ever before to slip on T-shirts, sweat shirts, and jackets. Just slide the item quickly and easily over the bottom platen. You can even turn the garment around while it is still on the press, for the fastest way ever to print both sides of the shirt.

5. Auto Opening To Prevent Over Application and Speed Production

Check to see if the press you are considering opens automatically. There are sevearl Hotronix® presses available with this feature that helps prevent ruined garments and allows for faster heat printing production. Even if you apply just one transfer a day, you’ll appreciate the ease of use that an Auto-Opening press has to offer.

Only the Hotronix line offers a pressure readout. See the number 3? It lets you know that the pressure is at setting 3. On other presses, it's just guesswork.

Only the Hotronix line offers a pressure readout. See the number 3? It lets you know that the pressure is at setting 3. On other presses, it’s just guesswork.

6. Digital Readouts for Time, Temperature and Pressure

There are a lot of presses out there with digital time and temperature displays, but only Hotronix® presses offer the convenience of a digital pressure display with touch-screen technology. This may not seem important at first. But when you have more than one person operating the heat press, the ability to set the pressure means there is no guesswork. There are no more arguments about what’s heavy, medium or light pressure. You can also program and store settings for jobs that you do on a repetitive basis.

7. Interchangeable Platens That Require No Tools To Exchange

You can print just about anything–from shoes and bags– in any location–from sleeves to arms–with the sized heat press platen. Hotronix® offers a wide variety of different platen sizes and can also custom create a platen for your specific needs. The best part? They’re easy to exchange, no tools needed.

8. Lifetime Platen Warranty and Engineered to Last

Last but not least, please consider the people behind the heat press you wish to buy. Especially when you are considering a less expensive model. You will experience problems with low cost presses, that is part of the reason they cost so little. Make sure there is some type of warranty on the press you purchase. For example, Hotronix presses feature both a lifetime platen warranty and a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor. They also feature a corrosion-resistant, super strong anodized aluminum framework and a powder-coated, baked-on finish to keep them looking new longer. Hotronix also has a Free Blue Ribbon Support program, with live technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our technical support staff has more than 100 years of combined experience and we are the world’s largest manufacturer of heat presses.


Welcome Alexander Stahl

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Dan Stahl and his older son AC say hello to Alexander. Welcome to the world and congratulations Dan and Alda.

Congratulations to Dan and Alda Stahl on the birth of their second son, Alexander Arthur. He weighed in at 9lbs, 6 oz. Both mother and son are doing well. Mary and I are very happy to welcome our youngest grandson to the family.