In the mid 60's heat transfer paper made its debut and it was more of a novelty item when it's introduced. The only paper available featured a "cold peel" process with drawbacks of thickness and rubbery looks. Although these weakness existed, A huge market for custom made t shirts transfer paper was uncovered.Marketing companies, sports teams and regular consumers loved the idea of quick and easy custom t shirts Since that time heat transfer paper has come along way.
Most retail stores displayed racks of pre-printed transfers that you could take home and apply with your household iron. The correct technology was not in place at this time therefore the chances of the transfer actually sticking to the garment were not good.
Heat Transfer Paper requires 3 constant factors in order to work properly: Proper Time, Heat ,Pressure.
The original "cold peel" transfer paper had its drawbacks. Due to the fact that this paper was in its infancy stage the papers did not hold up to multiple washings. Also, the cold peel transfers were thick and had a rubbery feel, making them uncomfortable to wear. Though these transfers had multiple problems, people did not seem to mind because this was a way to make a statement or a way to find humor in clothing.
T-Shirt Shops started to open once people realized the importance of imprinted garments. Not only did people want to wear clothing with novelty sayings on them, they also wanted inexpensive souvenir's that would display where they were on vacation, etc. Another reason heat transfer t-shirts became popular was due to the advertisement value that they contained. Companies began to give away shirts that displayed their company image or saying. These t-shirts became known as "Promo Tees".
Transfer papers continued to gain popularity, but were still somewhat uncomfortable to wear so changes were necessary. In order to compete with screen-printed shirts something had to be done to the existing transfer paper. The heat transfer paper industry became reborn with the emergence of the hot split transfers. No longer was transfer paper just for novelty, it has become a fashion. Transfer paper manufacturers continue to improve the transfer papers that are on the market today. Important features (washability, vibrancy, etc.) of the paper will continue to improve over time.
Also, the existing transfer paper was only intended for light garments, so the need for a transfer paper that worked on dark garments was evident. Two-Step Opaque Transfer Paper first emerged as a way to transfer onto dark garments. This process consisted of light transfer paper used in conjunction with a fabric with a removable backing (opaque material). The first step was to heat transfer onto the two-step opaque material, The second step was removing the backing and applying the opaque material to the garment. This paper is still on the market today and has it's own niche in the industry. One-Step Opaque Transfer Paper evolved from this process and eliminated the first step of transferring onto the material. The one-step opaque transfer paper is capable of being printed on through an inkjet or laser printer.
You will now find heat transfer shirts not only in souvenir shops, but also in boutiques & high-end clothing shops. These imprinted shirts now appeal to the masses. People are able to express personal beliefs or concerns of the times. They can display their favorite sports team or music icon. As Transfer Paper has evolved, so has the application, which has made the importance of the Heat Press imperative.