How to Make Foil T-Shirt Transfers with the GO UNO Transfer Printer

T Shirt Foil-EnduraTRANS-HF-Go-Uno

Here is a 2-step foil transfer using EnduraFLEX HF foil overlay. This 5.5″ x 7.5″ image is  printed on a “baby” t-shirt.

The GO UNO LED laser printer has lots of profitable possibilities.

It can make soft foil garments with intricate patterns. These foil T-shirt transfers ‘wowed’ the crowds at a recent ISS garment decorating show. People loved the high gloss metallic look, soft hand, and ease of application.

If you’re in the garment decoration business, you owe it to yourself–and your bling hungry customers– to find out more about this exciting application.

GO UNO Garment Transfer Printer Overview

Let’s start with a basic overview of the print platform. The GO UNO is an advanced LED laser printer specifically engineered to print to specialty transfer papers. These transfers can be used to decorate light and dark apparel and quite a few rigid substrates.

All of these transfer applications require a heat press. It’s a little like a dye sublimation system, but with fewer limitations. Click here for more information about the product and process.

The primary advantage of the GO UNO solution is its versatility. Because of the variety of self-weeding transfer papers available, there are lots of uses for the technology. These include high quality, full color prints on white t-shirts and vivid spot color prints on colored and dark shirts. The shirt applications are not fabric dependent. Cotton, polyester, acrylic, cotton-poly blends, and performance apparel are all equally suitable substrates. This versatility allows you to design to your customers’ preferences instead of trying to push them toward the fabrics you’re able to decorate.

In addition to full color printed shirts, the GO UNO can produce durable printed transfers on mouse pads, mugs, magnets, sign blanks, plexiglass and more. It even prints directly to adhesive backed vinyl. But the topic du jour is bling; metallic foil shirts.  What is it and how does it work?

GO UNO – EnduraTRANS Foil T-Shirt Transfer Process

T-Shirt Foil EnduraTRANS HF Silver Go Uno

This silver foil EnduraTRANS-HF transfer looks like the real thing. This image is 10″ x 7″.

All of the transfer processes require special papers to transfer toner to the substrate. In all other GO UNO transfer applications, the toner supplies the final image. Not so with foil.  The process is similar to applying foil with a screen printer and adhesive plastisol ink. In this case, the toner takes the place of adhesive ink, bonding the foil to the fabric.

Step One: Design a flat, spot color image for the under-base. This should be a silhouette with solid fills. If possible, choose a color that matches that of the shirt. If you have any pinholes in the applied foil, this keeps the color of the garment from peeking through. Choose a black under-base for a black shirt, red for a red shirt, etc.  Obviously since the GO UNO is a CMYK printer, you can’t do this as effectively on a white garment. And, as with all other transfer processes, you’ll need to flip or mirror the image before printing. (See FIG 1: Our Flaming cat image is designed in black and mirrored. Ready to print!) Print on EnduraTRANS FHC transfer paper using the Image Clip media weight setting.

Step Two: Lay the EnduraTRANS FHC paper face down on the garment and cover with a sheet of standard weight copy paper or newsprint. Set your heat press to medium/ heavy pressure and press for 30 seconds at 345°F. After pressing, wait about five seconds. Then peel the FHC paper smoothly from the shirt. You should see a matte black image with no other transfer or residue. (See Fig 2: The black toner under-base has been applied. Time for the foil)

Step Three: Lay the EnduraTRANS HF foil on the toner shiny or colored side up. Cover with a Teflon sheet and increase the pressure somewhat to heavy.  Press for 20 seconds at the same temperature. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then slowly peel the foil. It’s a self-weeding foil, so as you peel it away, the foil color adheres to the toner, creating a beautiful and soft metallic appliqué. (See Fig 3: Finished product is a glamorous metallic appliqué with a very soft hand).  For more information about this exciting application and other GO UNO transfers, please view the GO UNO Webinar now available on SignWarehouse TV

Cost, Garment Care and Comparisons

The foil transfer process is ideal for applying intricate metallic graphics with fine detail. Compare the time spent applying a transfer to the time spent cutting and weeding metallic T-shirt vinyl. If you’re only making one shirt, there might not be much of a difference. But what if you get an order for 15 hoodies for a team of majorettes? You do not want to cut and weed those. The UNO and EnduraTRANS solution is the most efficient way to fulfill these kinds of orders.

There are a couple of drawbacks. All metallic foil garments should be handled with extra care. Foil transfers can be machine washed, but not machine dried. Tumble drying bleaches the color from the foil, so line drying is recommended. Tell your customers to treat it as a delicate garment.  And as noted above, this is a spot color process, so your designs are limited to single colors. We currently stock foils in Silver, Gold, Red, Royal Blue, and Purple.

The finished garment looks like a million bucks. But the cost is actually quite low compared to other metallic accent options. The EnduraTRANS HF foil comes in 12” x 200’ rolls for only $30.00 per roll. An 8.5” x 11” image costs 9¢ in foil. The total cost for toner, paper and foil is about $1.00 – $1.25 per shirt. Applied to a black cotton shirt, you have a total cost of about $2.50 and five minutes for a custom garment you can easily sell for $15.00 – $25.00. The old adage “all that glitters is not gold” does not apply here. Making glittering T-shirts can put lots of gold in your pocket.

One caution, however, for  caring for foil t-shirt transfers after they are pressed. No heat used in washing or drying. No hot water, and no tumble drying. And of course wash and dry inside out with delicate cycles.  In fact, it might be better to hand wash.

GO UNO Foil transfers are a great way to take advantage of new technologies and new trends in garment decoration.  The finished product has a surprisingly soft hand, can be produced more easily than screen printing, and more efficiently than heat transfer film. The finished product is a highly desirable, low cost, high profit item. It’s a terrific new application for your GO UNO laser printer. If you don’t have a GO UNO, you can rectify that situation right now, right here.