If you have already made
up your mind that you will start with one of our “Magic” ink systems,
then you can safely skip this page and go to Graphtec
Vinyl Cutters without missing anything.
If you think that budget
considerations or other reasons will force you start with a printer and regular
“store-bought” cartridges, then read this page.
The information on this
short page will at least give you a chance of staying out of “hot water”.
Printers and Regular Cartridge Inks
used for heat transfers are standard, off-the-shelf printers.
There is nothing special (modified) about any of them. Most
of them (despite manufacturer’s claims) print just as good as
any other printer, for heat transfer needs (insofar as picture looks
The potential “Devil”
is in the regular ink. The reason for this is because so many printers use a
type of regular ink that is very water soluble and therefore
washes out very easily.
However, some inks give
acceptable results, not great, but acceptable. The rest of this page tells you
what to look for.
Three General Regular Ink Cartridge Types
Practical Facts About The Two Ink Types
Regular, Dye Based
Ink cartridges – The regular inks made for some
of the printers are actually decent (the Epson 1400 comes
to mind). Some are not very good at all, because they wash
out so easily (unfortunately, this includes a great number of older HP printers).
What’s important to remember is that regular inks are not
made to print heat transfers. They are specifically made to print
Ink Cartridges – Again, some of the pigment inks in regular ink
cartridges can decent. The pigment inks in the Epson 1900 are an example.
However, do not assume that all pigment inks produce good, washable heat
transfers. They don’t.
Another myth is the thought that no dye based ink washes good
and that all pigment inks do. Wrong! Bad ink is bad ink. Good ink is good ink.
As an example, we actually have several different formulations
of TransMagic! Inks™: some are dye based and some are pigment based (this
is because our inks are tailored to specific printers).The wash difference between
all of our inks is practically unnoticeable.
Note: There is about a 5% color loss on the first wash, with
any of our inks. Even pros consider this to be very acceptable. The important
thing is that there is very little color loss after that.
If you own an inkjet printer, and want to use it, then the only smart thing
to do is to test the ink that is in your printer. Print a transfer
with it, heat transfer it to a shirt and then wash it. This ain’t
rocket science, so just see what your eyes tell you. If the
results don’t please you, they certainly won’t please your customers.
Practical Ideas To Use In Your Planning
As my granny used to say, “There is more than one way
to pluck a chicken”. The best printer and ink to use is what fits
your needs and your budget and works! There is no one way. There is
only the best way for you.
If your budget is really tight, don’t spend your
last dollar on equipment (you will need some money to buy shirts too).
Instead, start smaller and get an inexpensive printer
that uses decent regular inks, a pack of our excellent heat transfer
paper, the best heat press that you can afford and
have at it.
Work smart and save part of your profits to
get “bigger and better”, when you can afford it.
all want the very best but we wouldn’t be a very good supplier or friend
if we encouraged you to be equipment rich and cash poor. You need to be
On the other hand, if your budget allows you to start off on
a more professional level then definitely consider our TransMagic!
Inks and MagicFlow! CIS™ delivery system. You will quickly
recoup your initial investment costs and be producing a shirt with a superior
Facts You Need, if starting with regular inks
If you can't afford one
of our MagicFlow! bulk ink delivery systems, with our special TransMagic!
T-shirt inks we offer this advice-
Be very careful
about selecting “all-in-one” printers or printers that have
all of the colors in one cartridge. In general, these printer types lap
up ink like a hungry cat lapping up a bowl of cream. This will cut into
your profits real quick.
to do a wash test before you produce an order. It’s much better
for you to be the one to find out about the results, than your customer.
An "ink status
monitor” should pop up on your screen, just before you start to print.
It supposedly shows the current ink levels in your cartridges. Treat the
information as a guide, not as gospel truth. Always
keep spare cartridges handy.
The last tip is about
"nozzle checks" and "head cleanings". Information about
both is in every inkjet owner's manual. Learn what it is, how to do it and
when you should do it. It’s very important!
That does it for your
general education on inks and printers. Now let’s look at vinyl cutters
and T-shirt vinyl.
Revised: March 18, 2014