T Shirt Transfer Printing vs Sublimation and More

Advantages of T-Shirt Transfer Printing, Compared to Other Printing Methods - Sublimation, DTG, Etc.

The DigitalHeat FX™ t-shirt transfer system is quickly becoming the easiest to use and least expensive ways to get started in the custom t-shirt transfer printing business.

Not only can the system work with dozens of material substrates, but it can also print on virtually every fabric type. The DigitalHeat FX™ system allows you to custom print literally hundreds of thousands of other items as well. You can unleash your creativity like no other customer decoration method out there.

With its exclusive Laser EZ Peel papers and the new OKI 9541wt white ink printer we take a look at how the Digital Heat FX™ system compares to sublimation, DTG, Heat Transfer Vinyl, Embroidery, Bling and even Screen Printing.

So, here’s the lowdown on how this amazing t-shirt transfer printing system is taking the market by storm and the unique advantages it enjoys over other methods.


Sublimation is a process that has been around for a long time as well. It was developed originally to print on plastic parts and items for the awards, and specialty printed items industry. Plastic tiles, sheets of plastics, acrylics, awards, gift items, etc. The system is different than most methods of printing because the pigments that are used are specifically designed to bond to plastic or polyesters on a molecular level.

While the systems for sublimation are relatively inexpensive, the downfall is that the items are expensive. You can only transfer on plastics and once transferred, there is a significant risk of what is known in the industry as “dye migration”. If a garment gets too hot in a dryer, it can reactivate the inks and cause the garments to bleed ink onto other garments in the wash. Sublimation has a limited product set compared to the Digital HeatFX™ system, and the was ability is not as good.

Cut Vinyl

Cut vinyl is a tried and true process that has been around in the custom apparel business for dozens of years.  It offers a quick and inexpensive way to produce names and numbers and other images.  It is typically sold as a single-color media.  The media is then placed inside a relatively inexpensive cutter machine and a razor is used to cut out the outline of the image.

DigitalHeat FX has the huge advantage that the amount of colors used in the design is unlimited when compared to cut vinyl.  In addition, with cut vinyl, there is a very involved process called “weeding” which requires picking out all the negative image areas by hand.

The DigitalHeat FX system has unlimited colors and can save sometimes hours of manual weeding of designs when working with left chest logos.

DTG – Direct to Garment Printing

Direct to Garment Printing has been around for nearly 10 years and can produce great high color results on certain substrates.  It is a process that works best with cotton garments.  It requires the garments or items to be pre-treated with a hand sprayer or a specialized pre-treatment machine.

The OKI 8432wt  and now the OKI Pro 9541wt  white toner printers do  not require any messy pre-treatment sprays.  It does not require special framing, tucking, or flattening of the garments and can be very difficult to get many items to flatten out and stay in place for printing.

Unlike DTG, DigitalHeat FX transfers can be printed up in groups and can be transferred on even the most complex areas of garments in multiple locations.  The pressing time for application is dramatically faster requiring only seconds per transfer and edge around the transfer, as well as the colors in the prints are similar.


Embroidery is a more elegant look than transfers with the Okidata 8432wt, but that elegance comes at a very high price.  To begin with, each custom design created for embroidery must be digitized and traced out and turned into stitches.

The run time for embroidery and the time it takes to hoop up and sew out each design is dramatically longer than the DigitalHeat FX system.  Also, the amount of colors in embroidery is limited, so for high color crisp art on short runs, transfers created with the Okidata 8432wt come our cleaner in full color in less time.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is one of the original methods of printing on garments and dates to early ages. It represents creating special screens for each color used in the design and then squeezing the ink through the screens onto the garment or substrate. For high quantity prints (200+ ) it is arguably the least expensive way to print t-shirts and many other items.

However, the value goes down with each color printed, and the shorter the print run. DigitalHeat FX does not require special screen created for each color and can print dozens of items before most jobs could even be set up on a typical screen press.  T-Shirt transfer printing results on the pro8432WT are consistent and clean and you can count on each shirt giving a consistent result without the messy ink process involved in screen printing.

Bling & Specialty Transfers

Bling and Specialty transfer processes are unique compared to the Digital Heat FX system.  They create a look and shine that cannot exactly be matched. There are some beautiful, high impact metallic look papers available for the Digital HeatFX system that will also give you a great “cheer” look!

The Bottom Line

The DigitalHeat FX system and specifically the Okidata 9541wt white ink printer with white toner solves many of the problems that other custom decoration methods cause.  For one of the lowest investments in the industry, it’s makes for a great addition to any custom shop looking to put beautifully printed logos on thousands of different substrates for sometimes pennies per print.

Get Started Today with DigitalHeat FX!

For more information about starting your custom apparel business using DigitalHeat FX call 855-348-4839 to speak with a product specialist today, chat or contact us below.