Choosing a printer


Dye Sublimation printers
Direct To Garment printers
Laser Transfer printers
Vinyl cutters



Solvent Print & Cut Vinyl
UV printers
Direct-to-fabric printers


For some businesses, just one of the following decoration methods might be sufficient, but for others it might be a combination of two, or more to cover all bases . . . .  So, how do I decide which is right for my business?


There are two important questions


1.  What colour are the products you need to apply a logo to? 
    • Printing inks are generally translucent, which means that the background colour can be seen through the ink.   If you were to print colour onto a black product,  you would not be able to see the printed colour. 
    • So, in order to print accurately onto coloured fabrics or products, a printer must either be able to print its own white base or it must be able to print onto a white medium that can then be attached to the fabric (usually with a heat press)

2.  What is the fabric / product made from?
    • We know that there are different kinds of paint used for metal, for wood and for other products.  The same applies to printing inks.  Some are made specifically for use on cotton whereas others are made for polyester and some for hard surface products.
    • Dark polyester fabrics are particularly troublesome because when they are heated, the dye in the fabric can re-activate and migrate into the printed image or vinyl.  When that happens the printed image will become dull or discoloured.   To overcome this problem you must use either a printing method that does not require high heat OR you must use a special film that has an extra dye-blocking layer.




Use this quick reference chart for a snapshot of each method

garment decoration




What are the limitations?

Imagine if you put black paper into your office printer?     You wouldn't be able to see your printed images because the coloured inks or toner wouldn't show up against the black background.  

Black prints will work well on most colours except Black and other very dark colours but images that have lighter colours in them will be affected by the colour of the garment / product 

For example:  If you print light blue onto a yellow background the finished colour will appear as green.




Let's look at the different types of printers and inks:

Dye sublimation printers - this type of printer uses water based dye.   The dye is printed onto a special transfer paper.  The printed sheet is then placed face down onto the prodyct that is to be decorated.and a heat press is used to activate the dye so that it can transfer from the paper onto the product.

Dye sub printers can for the most part be used only on products that are white or light in colour and are either made of polyester fabric or have been coated in white or clear polymer film.

There is a large variety of products that are made specifically for use in the dye sublimation printing business - coffee mugs, mouse mats, sports drink bottles, beer glasses, wedding plaques to name just a few.


What products are most commonly printed with dye sublimation ?

Dye sublimation lends itself very well to work-wear and sports-wear because the printed images are extremely long-lasting and allow the fabric to breath.   Another popular benefit is that the dye is absorbed into the fibres so the printed images have no feel at all.

In addition to white and light coloured polyester garments there are many other promotional products that are commonly printed.  Here are just a few :

  • Mobile phone cases
  • Coffee mugs
  • Beer glasses
  • Mouse mats
  • Jig-saw Puzzles
  • Coasters
  • Stubby coolers
  • MDF plaques
  • Chromaluxe photographic metal panels
  • Many, many more with new products being added almost every day.

Dye sublimation blanks


  • Low equipment costs for A4 & A3 printers (larger printers are available)
  • Easy to do
  • Fast print speed
  • No contour cutting
  • No weeding
  • Extremely long lasting images
  • Prints have no detectable feel
  • Prints do not seal the fabric



  • Dye sublimation prints require pressure and heat in order to transfer onto the product.   There are a number of different types of heat press ranging from small, flat-bed presses to full garment fron presses, cap presses and mug presses for cylindrical products like coffee mugs and drinks bottles.



Dye sublimation prints for cotton (including dark colours)

Forever Subliflex is a relatively new, adhesive backed, printable film which allows a dye sublimation printer to be used for logos that are to be applied to non-polyester fabrics like cotton, denim and leather.  Because Subliflex is white, it is possible to print full colour logos, with white areas.

Note:  To speed up the logo trimming process it is necessary to have a vinyl cutter that can detect printed registration marks and then cut around the printed logos.

Subliflex film is printed on the reverse side.  When it is applied to the garment the dye pentreates through the film from back to front - so the layer of polymer film is then solid colour from back to front.   The colour will not wash off.

Forever Subliflex provides dye sublimation printers with a new and expanded range of products and services but without the much higher cost of purchasing a specialised vinyl printer/cutter.

Forever Subliflex






Vinyl cutters and printer/cutters are widely used in the garment decoration and sign-making businesses. 

Vinyl cutters are used to cut out letters, numbers and simple logo shaped using coloured, adhesive vinyl. there are two main types of vinyl:

  1. Heat applied vinyl (commonly referred to as HTV) is used on garments and fabrics
  2. Self adhesive vinyl is used for signage like window graphics, point of sale signs, trade vehicles Etc


Roland vinyl cutter


Vinyl printer/cutters are used with a white printable vinyl, which is printed then cut, laminated and then adhered to different products using a heat press.  

  • Multiple logos can be printed and cut in one continuous operation
  • Vinyl can be used on a wide variety of fabric types and colours
  • Special vinyl allows use on dark coloured polyester fabrics
  • Can also be used for making signs for Windows, Point of sale, Trade vehicles, Building & more.
  • Self coloured cut-only vinyl is also available for solid colour logos. (quicker to use)


Roland BN20 printer & cutter

Roland BN20






Direct-to-garment printers use a water based pigment ink that has been formulated especially for best performance on cotton fabrics.  It works very well on all colours of cotton and on white and light colours of polyester.  Because there is no weeding required, very complex and fine detail images can be printed much more easily and quickly than would be the case with a vinyl printer/cutter.

Coloured fabrics must first be printed with white ink. This means that the fabric must first be pre-treated with a special solution and then dried before printing can begin. Without pre treatment the inks would simply soak into the cotton fabric resulting in very dull and blurred images.

Finished prints can have a soft look and feel on white garments or one that is similar to light vinyl when printed onto a coloured garment.

White cotton garments can be printed quite successfully without pre treatment but for the very best result it is best to use a light garment pre-treatment.  This really enhances the colour, the quality of the print and extends the life of the print after repeated washing.

Finished prints are soft and have a matt finish - very much like a water based screen print.

White & light coloured polyester fabrics can also be printed with CMYK ink only but they must be pre treated with a special polyester pre treatment before printing.  The pre-treatment prevents the inks from bleeding (wicking) into the surrounding fabric and it creates a much stronger bond between the ink and the fabric.

Finished prints are soft and have a matt finish - very much like a water based screen print.

  • Best method for printing onto cotton garments
  • No contour cutting or weeding
  • No limit to the number of colours in each image
  • Pre treatment required for printing with white ink on coloured garments
  • Some models can print multiple garments at the same time
  • Not suitable for printing onto dark polyesters
DTG-M2 garment printer

DTG M2 garment printer

Brother GTX garment printer




Laser Transfer Printers - have become very popular and especially so since the introduction of the excellent new Forever range of laser printable media.   Forever Laser Transfers offer two very important benefits :

  • Complex, full colour logos can be printed and applied to garments without the need for contour cutting or weeding
  • Forever Laser Dark (low temp) prints can be applied to dark polyester fabrics without dye migration

When you apply the printed image to the garment with a heat press, the white toner is then on the underside and forms the base for the colour so that it shows up against the colour of the fabric.


3 step process for coloured garments including polyesters

  • Simple procedure
  • Fast printing
  • No contour cutting
  • No weeding
  • No pre-treatment required
  • Can be used on different types of fabric including dark polyester
  • Can be used to produce neon and metallic prints
OKI 7411 laser printer





UV Printers - are rapidly growing in popularity because the offer several benefits:

  • Inks dry completely during the printing process - no post print drying required
  • White ink allows printing onto coloured surfaces
  • Clear inks allow a domed effect or 
  • Multi layerd prints allow 3D textures and brail signs to be printed
  • Many hard surface products can be printed
  • Thick objects up to 300mm can be printed depending upon the make & model
  • Cylindrical objects can be printed with optional rotary printing device
  • Multiple objects can be printed at the same time (like golf-balls, pens or USBs)
Compress iUV600

Compress UV printer

Mimaki UJF3042MkII

 Send an email enquiry or call 1800 137 670 today





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