Want to open a heat printing business? Why not consider pairing it with an embroidery business to give your clients beautiful and intricately designed products they would love to spread the word on?
Even though both heat printing and embroidery can be done with machines, the results are completely different. While one is more artistic than the other, that does not mean you cannot use both methods to make your small printing business an apparel empire.
To understand the differences between heat press vs embroidery, you have to understand how they work and how you can use each to run successful businesses.
What Is Embroidery?
Embroidery has been around for years and with time, it has gone commercial. It’s basically decorative needlework which is used to create intricate designs or pictures by stitching thread on fabric and other materials.
You can also use wool on a woven fabric but the stitches can be made on leather and wire strands as well. Some textile artists are efficient enough to embroider on plastic and even sheeting!
While embroidery is traditionally used to add decorative touches on clothing, towels, table linens, and bedding, it can be used on almost any evenly woven fabric which can be fixed on a hoop or tapestry frame.
It has also been used to create intricate tapestries, wall hangings and other delicate pieces of textile art so the sky is pretty much the limit as to what you can create with it.
While manual embroidery can be slow, you should practice it in the beginning to get the hang of the process. Machine embroidery employs two different actions.
The first utilizes a sewing machine which is used to create a design on a piece of fabric. The second part involves the use of an embroidery machine that re-creates a design from a pre-existing pattern that has been ‘fed’ into the software that came with it.
Back in the day embroidery was done by ‘punching’ designs on paper tape which used to run on a machine. However, even a single error could ruin an entire design forcing users to start all over again.
This is where the term came to be used in relation to digitized embroidery designs.
Today, these machines have gotten a serious upgrade. Now, all you need to do is install software on your PC and download digitized designs straight to the machine which can emulate them on the material of your choice.
Embroidery As a Business...
If you wish to start embroidering as a side business, the first thing you need to decide is how much time you can devote to it. If you can work only a few hours, you can make a profit by working from home.
However, if you want to work full time, you should consider looking for a warehouse or a larger space where you can accommodate more machines and the employees who work them.
Commercial embroidery machines vary in size and come with single or multiple heads depending on the number of orders you want to take on at a time. If, for example, you want to provide custom embroidery services for bags, shirts or caps, you can make do with a single head machine.
Keep in mind if you plan on taking on multiple orders at a time for logos or promotional products, consider getting a four or six head machine that can embroider a number of items at a time.
The fact is that you can also reduce your running costs significantly with a multi-head machine since it will not take you much time to produce multiple orders.
While you can get a single head if you want to take care of ten embroidered garments at a time, that may end up costing you more down the line.
What Is Heat Transfer Printing?
Also known as thermal printing, heat transfer printing uses heat to transfer an image from wax directly onto an object such as a cap, mug, clothing, etc.
The images are pre-printed on a single wax sheet or made on the fly when the wax dye is layered onto an object.
This printing method works like this – a transfer paper or wax ribbon with an image is pressed against the object that is to be printed on and the opposite side is heated until the ink melts off the ribbon and transfers to it.
If you use a wax based ink ribbon, you can work in two ways depending on the heat transfer method you use...
One, the image can be inked on the wax ribbon and applied via heat and pressure.
Two, the printer can draw the image by layering colors on the printing surface or substrate.
While the printing process works quite well on paper, it can also be used to apply images to a variety of materials ranging from textiles to hard objects such as acrylics.
For instance, you can use a heat transfer t-shirt printer to imprint an image on any fabric. The printed images are not only heat resistant, but they also don’t wash off easily.
Heat Transfer Printing As a Business...
As a business, heat press printing is one of the most lucrative businesses you can get into or you can use it as a stepping stone for a larger undertaking.
You can start off by printing shirts and when you get enough clients, you can always expand to other objects such as cups and hats.
If you want to start a heat press printing business, you need to consider three components:
Pressure - The amount of force applied when applying heat.
Temperature – The temperature at which the image will adhere to the fabric or object.
Time – How many seconds the heat will be applied to the substrate.
If applied correctly, this process can result in photorealistic images. It can also be used to customize prints on fabric such as sports uniforms, corporate products, and other promotional products that can provide your business the exposure you need.
Since heat transfer prints are quite durable, they remain pristine even if they come in contact with the elements and even sweat.
Why You Should Add a Heat Press to an Embroidery Business
A custom t-shirt printing business can help you sell personalized apparel but if you add embroidery into the mix, you can expand your business and make more money by offering more intricate designs.
Similarly, if you are only an embroiderer, there is a limit to which items you can embroider.
What if you get customers who want to place a large order and set an impossible deadline for it? Depending on the size of the facility you have, you may not be able to turn out large orders in time.
The result? You will lose clients to printing businesses.
This is where adding a heat press to your business can come in really handy.
That is not to say that you should ditch the embroidery completely though. By providing both services, you can tap into both markets and expand your business into a custom apparel empire.
In other words, when someone comes in to order personalized shirts, you can give them either options or a blend of both depending on their budget and the quality that can match it.
All you need to do is add an extra embroidery or heat press machine to make this happen. The good news is that there is a variety of these in the market so you don’t have to fork out a lot of money in the beginning.
Wrapping It Up...
The best part about this blended approach is how much time you will save from it.
Compared to machine embroidery or hooping a garment using the method, heat press printing takes seconds to complete. All you need to do is apply a printed design in just 4 seconds tops in a single step and print a full-color design in the same size in just a couple more seconds.
This allows you to print out more shirts in an hour than you can customize using embroidery.
Keep in mind though, by offering both services, you can give clients the best of both worlds – the intricacy and attention to detail machine embroidery offer and quick order turnaround with a heat press printing service.
You can start off solo and start employing when you have enough money to pay workers and rent/buy a larger facility.
Besides shirts, also provide prints and embroidery on other items such as caps and other promotional products that businesses can distribute among employees or during special events.
Not to mention this is a great way to get the word out there about your rapidly growing printing/embroidery business!