Vinyl foil printing – your highlight on textiles
Are you looking for an easy way to enhance your favorite shirt or create a very special memento that not only shines with individuality but also looks professional? With flex foil printing you can give your textile medium a gaudy slogan, a catchy motto or a filigree motif that is as unique as you are. To achieve this, you only have to consider a few important aspects, which we explain in detail in the following sections.
What is vinyl foil printing?
Vinyl foil printing is a high-quality method for finishing textiles that offers many advantages. The basic prerequisite for the printing process is the creation of a vector graphic that serves as a template for the slogan, logo or motif. This is transferred to the vinyl foil and then weeded by hand. With the help of a transfer press, which works at a temperature of up to 180 °C, the motif is finally applied to the garment.
What do I have to consider with vector graphics?
Vinyl foil printing is mainly suitable for one or two-color motifs and lettering. However, it is not possible to produce photographs or images with color gradients. Vector graphics are essential for high-quality printing.
Unlike raster or pixel graphics, vector graphics work with geometric shapes, such as circles, polygons or curves. This offers the advantage that the plotter can not only cut out the desired motif exactly, but also scale it to any size without loss.
Which programs are used for vectorization?
To create a vector graphic you use drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, which convert finished images into a vector graphic. Adobe Illustrator offers you two options: vectorizing with saved tracing presets and individual vectorizing with image tracing options. The first option is especially useful for beginners, because there is no need to search for or make any further settings. The second one offers more possibilities to design the motif according to your own wishes, but also requires some experience or willingness to experiment.
CorelDraw works similarly to Adobe Illustrator. There are even three variants of vectorization available, namely flash, centerline and outline vectorization. With lightning vectorization, CorelDraw takes over all settings and converts the image directly. The centerline vectorization in turn works with unfilled open and closed curves, which are perfect for technical illustrations, signatures or line drawings. To create a vector file from a photo, logo or clipart, outline vectorization works with curve objects that have no outline.
From vector file to design
Once the desired motif is created, it must be transferred to the vinyl foil. A so-called cutting plotter is used for this, which brings the graphic onto the film. But first the suitable vinyl foil must be selected. In addition to simple single-color versions, there are now also films with glitter and mirror effects or in a metal look as well as in bright neon colors. Even reflective foils that glow at night are no longer a rarity.
Once you have decided on a foil, the graphics can be transferred to the plotter using a computer. The plotter mirrors the motif and calculates all necessary parameters. After entering the order quantity, the cutting plotter starts its work. A corresponding vinyl knife is used, which cuts the information on the film by horizontal movements.
Once this process is completed, the plotted section is removed from the roll and weeded from the excess material using tweezers or a scalpel. Special care must be taken during this last step to avoid damage to the carrier foil and, consequently, to the motif.
The last step in textile finishing
A transfer press is required to apply the desired motif to a garment. This works with a temperature of approx. 135-180 °C and a pressure of approx. 4 bar. The garment is pulled onto the worktop and the transfer foil is placed according to your specifications so that the motif or slogan can be fixed by means of heat and pressure.
The adhesive layer of the vinyl foil melts during this process and bonds with the fibers of the garment. When it cools down afterwards, the adhesive hardens. In the final step, only the carrier film needs to be removed and the motif is successfully transferred.
With the toner transfer technique already mentioned above, there is no need for the weeding step. After printing the desired motif on a transfer foil, the print is joined with the so-called B-paper on the heating press. In this process, an adhesive layer similar to that of vinyl foils is transferred to the print. In the end, only the printed image components adhere to the textile. In addition to the advantage of not having to weed, toner transfer also enables multicolor images and photos. With special films, special colors and effects like gold, silver or neon printing are no problem.
The advantages and disadvantages of vinyl foil printing at a glance
✓ noble and high quality
✓ expressive colors
✓ smooth surface
✓ long shelf life
✓ ideal for small quantities
X no gradients
X expensive for larger quantities
✓ any scaling
✓ individual design
X expensive for larger quantities
X each color requires separate plotting and printing
Which textiles can be finished with vinyl foil printing?
– Long sleeves
– baseball caps
– Jute bag
– jerseys and much more.
Classical areas of application of vinyl foil printing
– Promo Clothing
– stag parties
– sports clubs
The application areas of vinyl films and toner transfer are very similar. Toner transfer offers many advantages. In addition to the wide range of printing materials, toner transfer can be used to transfer multicolored motifs and even photos without any problems. Weeding is not required and in terms of durability, feel and wash resistance, the results of toner transfer are in no way inferior to those of Vinyl films.