Digital Printing – Top 3 Common Questions About Heat Transfer and Direct Printing

digital printing businessDigital printing is a new technology that is becoming more popular. Many businesses have bloomed with the use of this innovation. Digital printing involves using the printer head to transfer ink directly onto the fabric or apparel. It actually works just like the paper printers usually found in homes and offices. The only difference is that it applies ink onto the garment.



The greatest advantage of digital printing compared to traditional printing methods is its unlimited color feature. This allows the creation of virtually seamless designs and images. Digital printing comes in two types. These include heat transfer and direct printing.  There are many common questions surrounding these two digital printing methods.

1. What is the difference between heat transfer and direct digital printing?

Heat transfer works by using a heated ribbon that is responsible for transferring images to garments or fabrics. Heat transfer printers can actually accommodate different mediums like paper, polypropylene materials and polyester. They can also be used in digital printing for asset tags, wristbands, tickets and certification labels. However, users should ensure that the ribbon and the label material are compatible. Doing so will help them come up with optimum performance and a higher level of durability.

Heat transfer digital printing involves applying heat to the ribbon with the printhead. This results in the material melting in order to form the image. The image then becomes a part of the media as the ink is absorbed. This process results in excellent printing quality.

On the other hand, direct digital printing does not use a heated ribbon. It uses a thermal printhead to transfer images to the marked surface. However, direct transfer is more sensitive to abrasion, heat and light. With this, the images cannot last very long.  This type of digital printing typically uses heat-sensitive and chemically-treated media. Aside from not having ribbons, direct printing printers do not have ink and toner. Because direct printing easily fades, it is not used to print images that are expected to be exposed to direct light or heat.

2. Why is digital printing preferable in making bar codes?

Digital printing is best for printing bar codes. This is simply because heat label printers can produce excellent image quality and more precise edge definition. These printers are built to print accurate bar widths, and this is very vital in creating bar codes that meet scanning requirements. Heat transfer and direct digital printing can both be used for bar code printing. Both types can print one and two dimensional symbols, text and graphics with similar speeds and resolutions.

3. Is heat transfer or direct digital printing better?

The answer actually depends on the application where digital printing is used. There are many factors to consider when deciding which digital printing method should be used. This includes the type of surface, the images and where the output will be exposed.

Those people who want to do digital printing on jerseys may find heat transfer to be a more suitable method. This is because paper transfers will give them more defined lines and details. It will also produce more saturated colors.

Meanwhile, direct digital printing is preferred by many businesses because it is cheaper than heat transfer. Direct printing does not require the use of paper. Experts say that this method lowers operating costs and creates less waste in the work area. In addition, direct printing produces faster results, and it is ideal for operations that require quicker production.

The Bottom Line

Whether digital printing is used for business or personal purposes, it is always best to match the medium to the surface. Smooth fabric is suitable for direct printing, and others may be great with the heat transfer method. These factors should be the first to consider when choosing the type of digital printing method to use. Many print shops have both digital printing technologies available to ensure that they can cater to customer requests.

A successful digital printing company knows how to determine which digital printing method is suitable for every surface. Although customers may not be aware of which method to use, a reputable print shop should be able to provide the right solution.

Digital printing has made a lot of difference in the printing industry. It has changed the way that many types of printing applications are performed. Now, anyone can have their favorite images on any surface they want.

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