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Heat Transfer Vinyl vs Heat Transfer Paper | A Wise Comparison

If you have hobbies in designing fabric, ceramic, metal, wood, or glass, you must know the uses of heat transfer vinyl or heat transfer paper to create your designs. These are two methods of transferring designs but are also dissimilar. Both do a great job on canvases on your choice.

The source of making the heat transfer vinyl of HTV is paper usable in creating Digital Printed Transfers. The wide format printer is the most suitable for HTV prints. The heat transfer papers are effective on desktop printers, inkjet or laser. The transfer paper produces only a single layer of a full range of colors, but the HTV has vinyl of multiple layers. Although one is mistaken with the other while referring, we wish to bring forward differences between the two.

What Is Heat Transfer Vinyl?

The heat transfer vinyl or HTV in short is a special vinyl polymer used in definite fabrics and materials to produce designs for promotion. The HTV comes as a roll with adhesive at the back to allow sticking to any surface, like T-shirts, cushions, and other items. The adhesive activates on heating which application of pressure transfers the print to the desired garment.

Heat Transfer Vinyl vs Heat Transfer Paper

The popular brands of HTV are Samsung, Oki, Canon, Epson, and Brother. You can use the printer you use at home for printing on the regular printer paper. The heat transfer vinyl allows the transfer of colored designs. The various finishes it can handle are matte, glossy, stretchy, flocks, glitter, and anyway, you want. The prints create garments of exceptionally outstanding quality and durability.

Equipment Needed For Heat Transfer Vinyl

Producing custom garments with HTV requires very little investment cost, to begin with. You will need the following two pieces of equipment only.

1. Vinyl Cutter

The vinyl cutter cuts the vinyl as per the design. The two best brands that carry cutters are the Brother ScanNCut and CAMEO. The vinyl cutters are like desktop printers. It operates on receipt of a command from a computer. On getting command, the sharp blades cut the vinyl as per the program of the design. At the back of the vinyl is a thin layer of adhesive that facilitates it to stick to any surface material like your garment. As your business grows, you can get more advanced cutters like Graphic cutters.

Vinyl Cutter

2. Heat Press

Another essential piece of equipment needed for transfer to vinyl is the heat press. The press applies heat to the press to put together the HTV and the garment. The vinyl attaches to the fabric containing the design. There are many kinds of heat press available in the market. The most common sizes are 9 x 12 inches and 16 x 20 inches. The popular press machine is the Geo Knight DK20 that can transfer almost anything.

Heat Press Machine

What Is Heat Transfer Paper?

You can transfer your design to your fabric with heat transfer paper. The paper is specially made of wax and pigment. The transfer paper either works with laser or inject printer but you will have to use papers made specifically for laser and inkjet printers. They come in 8.5 x 11 inches and 11 x 17 inches size sheets.

Heat Transfer Paper


Things You Should Know About Heat Transfer Paper

Before you buy heat transfer paper, you must know the specificities to give you the best results in printing. You need to know the right paper for the job you want to do. The process is simply printing a design on the transfer paper with the help of a laser or inkjet printer and then applying pressure and heat with a heat press. With the use of the right transfer paper (HTP) you can assure yourself of quality prints in your T-shirts.  

  • The Printer

Heat transfer paper (HTP) can come into use with laser and inkjet printers. However, laser printer only prefers only laser printer paper and inkjet printer prefers inkjet printer paper. The papers are not interchangeable with the printers. Therefore, buy only the paper depending on the printer you have. The model usually says on the suitability of the transfer paper.

printer for heat transfer printer

  • The Color Of The Fabric

The choice of the color of the garment is a determining factor in the kind’s suitability of transfer paper. The dark-colored garments work with a transfer paper different from the light-colored garments. When the background is dark, the pigments become luminous with a loss of visibility of colors. For dark backgrounds, the transfer papers have a coating or backing at the back to create vivid colors of the design. The papers for the white or light-colored fabrics have transfer paper, which is clear.

The Color Of The Fabric

  • The Artwork

The choice of transfer paper also depends on the artwork that you want to print. If your design is graphical, it is quite simple. You can use the software CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator with the use of heat transfer paper.

Both the inkjet and laser apply for printing such vector-style graphics. However, for photos, you may need a different type of HTP. Inkjet transfer paper designed for light background is the best for photos. With laser printing paper, it is difficult to get prints on photos, as the laser printer has to adjust to print in detail.

Heat Transfer Vinyl vs Heat Transfer Paper


Creating your designs on T-shirts and fabrics is great for expressing your artwork. The heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and the heat transfer papers (HTP) are convenient ways of printing fast. The printing process is quite easy, requiring only three pieces of equipment. The critical part is the selection of the transfer paper to go with your printer.

There are some famous brand companies, which carry the cutter machine and the heat press. You may find them in Brother ScanNCut and CAMEO. The Geo Knight DK20 is one of the press machine suitable for beginners.

Both the HTV and the HTP help transfer designs for printing in T-shirts, fabric, ceramic, metal, wood, glass, and even leather. Your choice from the two would depend on the surface you would like to depict your design. Happy printing!

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