When white toner printers from OKI and DigitalHeat FX first hit the market several years ago, taking the custom promotional products market by storm. This was because there was finally a way to print short run full-color shirts without all the drawbacks of other technology.
A full color LED printer, like the 8432WT (or the 9541WT that comes in the DigitalHeat FX bundle) doesn’t require maintenance like direct to garment printers do. Also, it doesn’t have to be used regularly, and is JUST as reliable as an office printer. Those are some great advantages.
So, while the t-shirt transfer revolution which was inspired by DigitalHeat FX heat transfer printers is still going strong – hard surface printing by those same printers is expanding in popularity.
The same technology, printer and heat press that’s used to produce hundreds of thousands of t-shirt transfers is now being used to produce lots of unique hard goods as well.
Hard Surface, Hard Goods, and Promotional Products
This whole ideas of applying a transfer to an object rather than fabric or a t-shirt is called many different things.
But whatever you call it, you follow the same steps:
Applying Hard Surface Heat Transfer Paper
The most important requirement for applying hard surface heat transfer paper is simple:
THE OBJECT HAS TO FIT IN THE HEAT PRESS!
It seems obvious, but when you use EZ Peel Hard Surface paper it requires a heat press to seal the image onto the substrate or object.
When you’re creating t-shirt transfers it’s really not a concern because, -well, t-shirts are all pretty thin and pretty flat.
A heat press like the Fusion or DK20 clamshells are fine for things like printing on tiles, or small signs, or notebook covers for example. None of those are very thick and all have a flat surface.
But you’ll see us apply a hard surface heat transfer to a baseball – and you can’t use a flat heat press for that.
Or a coffee mug. Or a travel cup.
And you must use a good quality heat press with even temperature and pressure distribution. Because the entire transfer needs to be applied the same way. If one corner of your mug press isn’t as hot as the other corner – your transfer is going to peel.
Hard Goods Customization Opportunities
Just to get your imaginations started, we brainstormed some of the most popular materials you can apply hard surface heat transfer to:
And a few of the things you can make – and make money at:
You get the idea!
How much can I Make Selling Custom Hard Surface Products?
Let’s take a simple example from the
customized glass coasters.
We found you can buy simple, blank 4”x4” glass coasters for as little as $.53 each in 100 pc quantities right on Amazon.
And the EZ Peel 11”x17” Hard Surface paper comes in a box of 50 for $50.00, so $1.00 per sheet.
You can get ten 4” X 4” images on 1 sheet, so that $1 per sheet works out to $.10 per transfer for the coasters.
[there is a cost of toner, but that varies dramatically with the density of the print]
We also looked online for short-run customized glass coasters and found the most common retail price for 10-50 to cost $12.95 each.
Here’s what you’re profit would look like if you sold a dozen customized glass coasters:
Sale Price: $12.95 x qty 12 = $155.40
COGS: $.63 x qty 12 = $7.56
Gross profit for this order = $155.40 – $7.56 = $147.84
There are, of course, many other variables you might apply to your cost of goods and determining your sale price, but even these rough numbers are compelling! Imagine what else you can create and make some extra money on?