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Alpha Supply Company, Inc., T-Shirts, Nashville, TN Location Get Directions to Alpha Supply Co
138 Space Park S. Nashville, TN 37211
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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”.

Inkjet Printers and Regular Cartridge Inks

All printers 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 go).

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

  • Regular, dye based inks.

  • Regular pigment based inks.

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 regular paper.

  • Regular Pigment 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.

Our conclusions: 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.

Yes, we 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 practical.

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 image.

Four 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.

  • Don’t forget 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

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