Creating Screen-Printed Heat Transfers for Hats

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create screen-printed heat transfers for hats

Screen-printed transfers for hats are something that I think all shops could benefit from doing. Very few shops print directly to hats anymore. Some use sublimation for polyester-front white panel trucker hats, but nothing for standard baseball or other caps. There are lots of shops that don’t offer any hat decoration and are not looking to get into sublimation or embroidery.  You are even able to do a transfer over most hat seams with minimum breakage, which is not entirely possible with direct screen printing onto hats.

For those of you who already do apparel transfers, this will be an easy transition. For the rest of you, here is a basic breakdown on how to do screen-printed heat transfers.

Single color screen-printed heat transfers 

  1. Keep your art as basic as possible, and try to avoid small halftoned or light line weights.
  2. Output your art on your screen mirrored to allow for the double application.
  3. Use the most open mesh screen possible for the art. I recommend trying to stay at 156 or lower.
  4. Use the opaquest inks possible since you’re only doing a single color.
  5. Print onto a transfer sheet and powder your wet ink with a transfer powder.
  6. Run it through the dryer to ensure the ink is dry to the touch on the paper.
  7. If properly dried, you can stack and store for future use.
  8. When ready to transfer, lay out your garment on the heat press (in this case, a hat on a cap press) and pre-warm the surface with the heat press, then apply the transfer, and line it up.
  9. Press with medium pressure for at least 10 seconds at 300 degrees F or slightly more.
  10. Rub the back of the transfer with a rag and then slowly peel back transfer paper.
  11. Heat press the transfer again with a Teflon sheet or parchment paper to assure proper adhesion

Pro Tip- Often, the hats will arrive from the vendor with an insert behind the front panel. If so, leave it there when doing the heat pressing. It will not only cut out the labor of taking them out but helps keep the area more rigid.

If this process seems super simple, it’s because it is. Screen-printed heat transfers are a great way to prep for live events, as prepping commonly purchased one-color designs for pressing onto apparel as purchased and lowering inventory overhead or setting up jobs over and over.

Here’s a link to a YouTube video I made on the process of making screen printed heat transfers:

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Mike Clark

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