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Real Talk: ELT Zip Transfers Updated

Real Talk: ELT Zip Transfers Updated
August 6 2018
A lot has changed since I last wrote about ELT Zip Transfers.  The entire point behind these transfers was to hot peel off of cold peel paper at a low temperature.  The paper releases all of the ink providing the best ink deposit and bleed resistance.  Peeling hot speeds up production.  The print is both soft, stretchy, and bleed resistant.  It really was a great process, especially for 100% polyester which is both delicate and difficult.

Recently, much has changed.  X90 Transfer Paper is here.  This is a true hot peel transfer paper.  Unlike most hot peel paper, the X90 releases almost all of the ink from the paper.  We prefer this transfer paper for both the low temperature process and a traditional high temperature hot peel transfer.  ELT Zip Transfer inks can do both very successfully.  The processes for each will be discussed later but know that any hot peel transfer paper will work as long as you follow the instructions.  Furthermore, each different paper will alter the finish of the ink.  Some paper releases all of the ink which leaves a semi-gloss look.  Other paper will leave a residue behind on the paper which makes the ink more of a matte finish.

Since the ELT Zip Transfer ink can print both low and high temperature transfers, and it can decorate any fabric, this is really one ink for all transfers.  This saves you from stocking multiple scarlet or royal inks for different processes.  This can lead to using the wrong ink on the wrong paper.  This also can lead to color consistency problems.  Stocking one ink for everything prevents all of the production problems you don't want to deal with.  Simplify everything.  It's easier than it used to be!

The process matters.  You can't just print ELT Zip Transfer ink onto any paper and expect great results.  Below is the process for creating a hot peel, cold peel, and low temperature transfer with the ELT Zip Transfer inks.  Also, here is a shopping list of items you will need.

Shopping List:

  • ELT Zip Transfer ink
  • ELT Zip Fashion Powder or ELT Zip Performance Powder
  • Plastic container for applying adhesive powder or transfer powder applicator
  • Transfer paper (X90 is a must for low temperature transfers)
  • Thermolabels #4 and #5

Hot Peel Transfer Process:

  1. Expose the artwork in reverse.  An 86 count screen mesh is best as a durable hot peel transfer will require a moderate ink deposit.  If you have to screen print fine details, utilize a finer screen mesh but back the transfer with a layer of clear or printable adhesive.
  2. Determine the proper dryer temperature.  Ideally, the ink will be dry to the touch but not durable at all.  You should be able to run your finger nail across the print and it should be brittle.  It should break up into pieces very easily.  If you pick it off the paper, there should be zero stretch.  The lowest temperature where you can accomplish a dry print is perfect.  If you insist on measuring the temperature, place a #4 Thermolabel on the paper.  240ºF is the absolute hottest you want to be.  If the ink is dry to the touch and the 240ºF square is not black, this will work well.
  3. Send the transfer paper through the conveyor dryer.  All of it.  We want to eliminate all moisture as this will prevent adhesive powder from sticking where it should not (if you plan on using adhesive powder).  This will also preshrink the paper allowing for better multi-color registration.
  4. Screen print the ELT Zip Transfer ink onto the hot peel paper.  X90 paper will release all of the ink, providing excellent opacity.  Other transfer paper will provide different ink deposits and finishes.  Always test each hot peel paper before you decide upon the best option for you and your customers.
  5. Optional step: If this is a one-color print and you want to apply adhesive powder, now is the time.  Adhesive powder will make the print more durable, opaque, and bleed resistant.  It is always applied to wet ink and then "tapped" off the paper so there is no excess powder where there is no ink.  If you have a transfer powder machine such as a Sunrise, simply place on the conveyor.
  6. Gel the print in the conveyor dryer at the temperature discussed in step 2.  If there are multiple colors, register the next screen and print the next color.  If you are applying transfer powder to these prints, be sure to print a full underbase with the final color (or a clear underbase when this is easier).
  7. Heat press all hot peel transfers at 375ºF for 8 seconds, firm pressure.  Peel hot.

Low Temperature Process:

  1. Expose the artwork in reverse.  For opaque, bleed resistant transfers, consider 86 or 110 count screen mesh.  You can utilize much finer screen mesh when necessary.  Our customers will print with screen mesh counts as fine as 230 for detailed shirt tags or as low as 38 for glitter prints.  All mesh counts in this wide range will work.  Simply choose the mesh count based on the artwork and fabric you are decorating.
  2. Determine the proper dryer temperature.  If you are currently a t-shirt screen printer using traditional inks, the same dryer temperature will work perfectly.  You want the ink to reach 320ºF.  Measure this with a #5 Thermolabel.  You must fully cure the ink to the paper.
  3. Send the X90 transfer paper through the conveyor dryer.  X90 is the best transfer paper for the job.  There are dozens of transfer papers to choose from.  Most will not work with this process.  Please test.  Cold peel transfer paper will work but the finish is more glossy than most screen printers prefer.
  4. Screen print the ELT Zip Transfer ink onto the x90 transfer paper.
  5. If this is a one-color print, you must apply the ELT Zip Fashion Powder or ELT Zip Performance Powder to the wet ink.  The fashion powder is a softer, more stretchy powder for most applications.  The performance powder is better for sublimated polyester or very difficult 100% polyester.  If this is a multi-color print, send the print through the conveyor dryer and register your next screen.  The final color must be a full underbase of the print so the powder can be applied to the entire print.
  6. Cure the print in the conveyor dryer fully at 320ºF degrees as measured by a #5 Thermolabel.
  7. Heat press low temperature transfers at 285ºF for 5 seconds, medium pressure.  Peel hot.

More Heat Press Options:

There are many different settings which will work well when heat pressing low temperature transfers.  I have a few listed below just to give you an idea of what has worked here and for some of our customers.  Always wash test when you stray from the settings as stated above.  285ºF for 5 seconds with medium pressure is perfect for those of you also heat pressing our Chemica Hotmark Revolution.  It is a great feeling to leave your heat press set to the same temperature all day, every day.  No mistakes.  No problems.

  • 375ºF for 3 seconds, firm pressure.  Peel hot.  This is very standard for tag printers.
  • 280ºF for 10 seconds, medium pressure.  Peel hot.  This is the old ELT Zip Transfer instructions.
  • 325ºF for 4 seconds, firm pressure.  Peel hot.  This is safer tag printing instructions due to the lower heat.
  • 375ºF for 8 seconds, firm pressure.  Peel hot.  This is standard hot peel transfer instructions.  It still works but it defeats the purpose of a low temperature transfer.

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