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Roland vinyl cutter - blade information



Fixing Common Vinyl Transfer Problems

Here are the answers to some of the most common problems in 3 troublesome areas of t-shirt transfer.  They are :

  • Adhesion
  • Colour Migration
  • Cutting or Weeding


1) Problems with Adhesion

Mastering the adhesion process (that is getting the film to stick to the garment) can be difficult for the beginner and the veteran alike. The issues that commonly arise with adhesion can be split into 2 categories: initial adhesion and final adhesion.


Initial Adhesion: Issues with initial adhesion often occur when the liner is removed, and it ends up removing the recently pressed letters with it. Most of the time, the reason this will happen is because not enough pressure was applied via the heat press.

    • The heat press step requires 3 things; Heat, Pressure and Time. Most beginners will simply heat press the garment for longer, but this won't always work. Some films require more pressure, some less. If the film isn't adhering properly to the shift after it comes out of the heat press, try increasing the heat and/or the pressure.


  • Alternatively, initial adhesion might be prevented by a coating on the fabric. This coating might be an antimicrobial coating or a moisture repellant one. Tents and nylon raincoats often have a moisture repellant coating, and the coating can usually be removed by pre-heating the fabric with a sheet of Kraft / silicone paper - this will absorb the coating the fabric, and remove it. Performance apparel and excercise gear often has an antimicrobial coating. The best way to get around this, unfortunately, is to try to avoid working with those fabrics. There are pre-treatments that can help when working with antimicrobial coatings, but the effectiveness can vary.


Final Adhesion:

    • If an appliqué falls off laters after initially sticking, the most likely cause is an issue with layering or laundering. It is very important to always use the same kinds of peel films when layers; that is warm peels on warm peels and cold peels on cold peels. When it comes to metallic peels, the metallic peel should always be on top.


    • Another important think to check is that you're applying to right film to the fabric your working with. Films that work very well on nylon and leather may cause issues on cotton, polyester and blended garments.


  • The other likely cause of final adhesion issues is issues with laundering. This problem will unfortunately be on the end of your customers, so the best you can do is advice your customers to launder their garments like delicates; washing them inside-out in cold water. This is the safest way to ensure the heat won't cause problems with the garment.


Color Migration

Colour migration is when the dyes in the garment move from when they were initially applied to the garment. A lot of the time, this will mean that the dyes will soak through the garment instead of sitting on top, resulting in muted colours. For example, white graphics applied to dark polyester or cotton shirts might become grey instead. This is often the result of the black dye in the shirt becoming reactivated during a heat press, migrates to the film, and interfere with the transfer. There are 3 ways to deal with this:

    • Use a shirt that hasn't been decorated by dye sublimation, or hasn't been made with thermo-reactive dyes. Shirts made with thermo-reactive dyes tend to be lower quality shirts, so this can be solved by upgrading to higher quality cotton garments.


  • Use a film that blocks dye migration and preserves the colour of the face film. These films are often more limited in the range of colours they can use, but this can be rectified by adding another layer to the garment.


Cutting Problems

For the most part, heat transfer film is very simple to cut, as it is very thin and soft. Problems that can arise are probably a result of 1 of 4 things; incorrect blade, an extra liner, improper film loading or excessive blade wear.

    • Incorrect Blade. The thickness and density of a fabric determines which kind of blade you'll need to cut it. For most regularly garments, a standard issue 45° plotter blade is sufficient. For thicker and denser garments and fabrics, a 60° blade known as a "flock blade" will be necessary.


    • Extra liners. In order to protect some of the more specialised films, many come with an extra liner covering the face film. This layer is purely for protection during transportation and storage, and will interfere with cutting if it's left on. Carefully remove the extra liner in an area only large enough to cut the image and nothing more before you begin cutting.


    • Film Loading. CAD T-Shirt films are normally shipped with the liner facing outwards. This means that you'll be cutting the face film from the bottom when you load it onto a standard roll fed plotter.  If you aren't able to cut the fabric after loading the film, it might have been loaded incorrect. In this case, flip it over and do a test cut. The liner is much tougher and thicker, so which ever side is easiest to cut is the side you should be cutting.


  • Blade Wear. If everything else is looking good; you're using the correct blade, the extra liner layers are removed, and the film is loaded properly, it may simple be the case that your blade has been blunted or worn down through extended use. Using softer polyurethane films will wear your blades down slower, but sooner or later all plotter blade will wear down.


Weeding Problems.

The most likely cause of a weeding problem is that you've cut into or through the face film, but haven't cut through the adhesive. Alternatively, you may have cut too deeply, which can occur when using a film on a paper liner. The best way to avoid either of these problems is to make sure you do a test cut. If the test cut comes out fine after weeding, only then should you send the job through.

A Test cut on the Q Series or Graphtec is a triangle in a square. The triangle should come out easily, so what you're looking for to evaluate the test cut is light scoring in the liner after you remove the square. If the liner is deeply scored, you've used too much force and/or cut too deep. If the liner isn't scored at all, you haven't cut all the way through the adhesive, which means you have cut too lightly and/or used too little force.

If you're still having trouble weeding the edges, try using a little more cutting force; that should do the trick.


In summary.

If it doesn’t stick, use more pressure. Make sure you have the right film for the fabric. Don’t mix hot and cold peel films in layers. Inform you customers about how to launder the garments.

If the color is shifting, get some better shirts, switch to SIR, or add a layer. If it’s too hard to cut, make sure the film is loaded properly, make sure you’re using the right blade, that it’s properly installed, and that it isn’t worn out.

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