Best Printers for Heat Transfer Papers-2021:T-Shirt & Fabric Printing Methods

Are you planning to start making t-shirts or crafts? Are you in the business for a time and trying to develop it more? Then, you might want to take a pen and a paper to take a few notes.

The two tools can make your business of T-Shirt and fabric printings successful. An excellent heat transfer machine and a good printer are must tools for your business. You can work on just about any crafts if you have these two.

At first, I am going to let you know the minimum specifications that you must want to look for the best printer for heat transfer t shirts. As all printers are not suitable to print on heat transfer papers and transparency papers, you should look into the speculations to choose a printer.

Otherwise, you might be dealing with paper jams and bad quality images. Secondly, I will let you know how to choose right heat transfer paper and work with heat press machine. Lastly, I will be discussing the other types of printing processes so that I can help you to know your business better.

The first two printers are recommended for both heat transfer and screen printing transparencies and latter's are fit for heat transfer papers which suits for fabric and T-Shirts.





  • 26 PPM Speed
  • Transparencies support
  •  250 sheet tray 


  • Transparencies support
  • Duplex support
  • 40 PPM Speed


  • 9600 x 2400 resolution
  • Airprint available 


  • 9600 x 2400 DPI
  • 5 ink tanks
  • Duplex support 


  • Huge ink storage
  • Double sided printing 
  • Super fasting printing


  • Simple connection system
  • Duplex printing
  • 6 ink tank 

Minimum Specifications

The first thing you want to look is printing medium of the specific printer. If the printing medium does not support heat transfer paper, you cannot choose it. You can choose a quality photo printer for heat transfer jobs. Again, if you want to grow your business, you should plan it better.

For this, I recommend printer which supports printing on transparencies. In that way, you can go for screen printing method of t-shirt printing. In you have enough budgets; you should go for a printer that can print on transparencies.

In fact, that kind of printer is very powerful and you can use it home and office use, greeting card printing, photo printing, cardstock printing, printing labels and stickers, envelopes etc. If you do not know about screen printing, you will find below.

heat transfer t shirt

You must check the resolution or image quality of the printer. The higher the resolution value, the better is the image creation. Resolution is calculated in dots per inch (DPI). For example, a printer having 1200 DPI resolution is much better than a 600 DPI resolution printer. You must choose a printer having resolution more than 1400 DPI which is in fact pretty good for professional photographers.

Paper size and weight is another specification that is mandatory to look for. You must select the paper size based on your needs. The weight of printing paper is measured in pound (lb) or gram per square meter (gsm). You can select a printer that can print 80 Ib papers without any ease.

You do not want to choose a printer which prints 2-3 pages per minutes. The speed of a printer is judged by pages per minutes. You must take a look at it before purchasing.

If your business if large or you want to grow your business, you will need to print a print a lot. So, you need to follow duty cycle of a printer. Duty cycle is the number of pages that a printer can print without having damage. Duty cycle of 8000 pages is good enough.

The operation cost of a printer is a huge factor. You must check it out. Some quality printers provide free inks even for years.

I recommend you to choose inkjet printer as normally most of the t-shirt business expert support inkjet printers over laser printer.

Heat Press Machine for Heat Transfer

Heat press machine is special device which utilizes heat and pressure to transfer image from heat transfer paper to the desired object. Sure, you can use a regular iron instead of a heat press machine. But we recommend you to use a heat press machine for better quality fabric printing. The prints to be noted for a heat press machine:

1. You can control the pressure and temperature of the device and you must do it correctly.

2. Different fabric can tolerate pressure and heat at different level. So, before you get going, you must check the temperature and pressure scale of the fabric.

3. Not all fabric is suitable for heat press machine and heat transfer. The fabrics which melt with temperature are not suitable for heat pressing.

4. You should choose a large heat press machine with extra features to grow your business with time.

5. The process is pretty simple. You do not have to afraid of such high temperature. If you are afraid, you can get going with one of your old T-Shirts.

How to choose the right heat transfer paper?

In order to create premium art on the fabric or T-Shirt, you will need a special kind of paper which will transfer the image on the fabric by the help of heat press machine.

These special papers are known as heat transfer papers. The heat transfer paper has polymer firm on it. So, it does not get affected by heat and pressure of the heat press. Companies have been producing various types of heat transfer papers. So, you must follow the following set of rules before choosing a heat transfer paper:

1. Inkjet and sublimation printer is most preferable for heat transfer papers. Most of the heat transfer papers in the market are suitable for inkjet or sublimation printers.

2. But you can find heat transfer papers for laser printers too. But we recommend using an inkjet printer in this issue to create high quality fabric printing.

3. You must use light heat transfer paper for printing on while or light colored fabric. Light heat transfer papers are specially made for heat transfer in light colors. You will not have good experience if you try to print on dark fabric using light transfer papers. You can use iron as a heat press in this case.

4. You should use dark heat transfer papers in order to print dark colored fabric. You can print on light or while fabric by dark transfer papers but it should be noted that dark transfer papers come with higher price. You can use iron as a heat press for dark heat transfer papers.

5. Although glossy heat transfer paper comes with much higher price, it will create much better quality image. The image will last long and shine. But you cannot use an iron in this case as heat press. If you are serious in to heat transfer printing, we recommend you to use a sublimation printer and glossy transfer paper for superb T-Shirts.

T-Shirt & Fabric Printing Methods

There are many t-shirt printings types. Below are the most popular ones you should know:

  • Heat transfer.
  • Screen printing.
  • Direct to Garment.
  • Vinyl printing.
  • Dye sublimation printing.

Heat transfer 

Heat transfer method of producing crafting utilizes heat and pressure to create images on the desired objects. You can produce images by this on a t-shirts, caps, trousers, bags etc.

 In the basic system, you will need a quality printer which prints good photos on heat transfer papers and a heat transfer machine. This method is also known as sublimation method of fabric printing. In fact, any process involving heat and pressure is under sublimation category.

You will need to design the images and print it by the printer on the transfer paper. You should know the ink absorption capabilities of your heat transfer paper.  Then, heat transfer machine is used to press it at high temperature and pressure against the fabric and then the images stick on it.

Fabric printing methods

Normally, the temperature used is 180-230 degree Celsius depending upon the fabric and pressed for 20-30 seconds by the heat transfer machine. You must be careful to set the temperature of the heat transfer machine. You must select it knowing the quality of the fabric.

In this case, the design can be done on a personal computer or any smart device and there is no color limitation. This method is very suitable when the design is very complex and requires multiple colors. This method is perfectly cost sensitive when the required production is very small.

But the problem arises when if the fabric is heat sensitive. On the other hand, this might not be a good idea to choose dark colored fabrics. Sometimes, the designs fade away with time. Still, the method is supported for very small scale and home production and for startups.

Screen printing

This is most the most oldest and useful method of creating craftworks on fabric. This method is among us for thousand years.

Screen printing uses a screen or template and ink to create images on the t-shirt or fabrics. Screen is usually made by nylon mesh. In the basic technique, ink is applied on the fabric by screen. Ink is spread on the screen to create image on the fabric. The ink is then removed. Finally, the fabric is to be dried.

In the process, you will need screen and transparent printing paper. You should know that you can only create one color by a single screen. For printing on transparencies, you must choose the best printer for printing on transparencies.

Screen printing

Luckily, there are printers in the market which are specially designed for printing on transparencies. These printers can be costly but can print very high resolution images on photo papers, heat transfer papers and cardstock printers. If you want to grow your business larger with time, this is the type of printer that I recommend for your business.

The images produced by this method is vibrant and of high quality. The images do not fade with time. And for huge production and under budget project, this is the method you want to go for.

But the setting up the method and proper training can take time. Again, the process is very lengthy to operate. Initial setting can cost a large amount and an individual screen can be used for a particular color. So, small scale production is not suitable. Still, this method is widely respected for low budget and large scale production.

Direct To Garment

This method is relatively new and in fact most advanced and easiest way to print on t-shirts. From the name, it can be understand that, the printer or device directly prints on the fabric.

The device is similar to inkjet technology and works similar to an inkjet printer. The special device uses water based ink which is absorbed directly by the desired fabric. The device can produce very detailed high quality image like an inkjet printer.

The process is very fast and gives independence in choosing fabric color and design. You can just print a design consisting of hundreds of colors on any color fabric within a very short time. You do not have to make set ups again and again for a particular job. There is no process actually. You will just design the logo or graphics on your laptop or smart device and make t-shirt. So, the system is suitable for both small and large scale production. The operating cost is praiseworthy.

But the device is very costly and the images do not last as the other manual processes.

Vinyl printing

T- shirt vinyl is a special type of material for printing t-shirts. For vinyl printing method of t-shirt, you will require vinyl paper, cutter machine and heat press machine. You will need the best printer for printing on vinyl material. This method is suitable for manual and single home production.

In this method, the basic process is prepared the graphic design of the t-shirt by using a computer or any other smart device. Then, the design is printed on the vinyl papers by a suitable printer. The printer should be chosen carefully.

Not all printers are capable of printing on vinyl papers. If the graphic is very in detail and snazzy, you should go for a top notch inkjet printer. Inkjet printer is very popular and well known among artists and professional for accuracy and perfection works.

Vinyl Printing

When printing is done, you will need to cut the vinyl paper in shape of the design. You can do this by the cutter machine. Even this is possible by home scissors that we use in our home.

After the vinyl paper is cut accurate, and then comes the use of the heat press machine. Heat press machine is used to stick the image on the t-shirt. The temperature is to be chosen carefully. Choosing right temperature will provide better lasting. If you know the process and become proficient, you can even do this by house irons.

This method is very fast and suitable for sport clothes.

Dye sublimation printing

Dye sublimation is great for sensitive fabrics. In the process, dye sublimation ink is used to create images on objects by screen printing or plotter.

This process is great for light fabrics and polyesters. This process is very easy to perform. The method is alternative to heat transfer process.

In this method, dye sublimation ink is used. The ink at the initial stage is liquid. Then, it is heated to turn into gas. When kept for a time, the dye sublimation ink becomes solid again. The most interesting part is the ink becomes a part of the fabric which is not fade. No other printing techniques can crack the accuracy of this method.

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