Printing on Polyester? Here’s How!

Different materials have different requirements for garment printing, heat press settings, and the practitioner. It can be challenging to determine which type of heat transfer is suitable for a particular material, or what temperature and duration the press should be applied for. In the Print Guide, we gather articles with practical tips and tricks based on our extensive experience in garment embellishment. In this article, we’ll go through how to print on polyester to achieve a high-quality and durable result.

What is Polyester?

Polyester is a synthetic fiber made from oil, recycled plastic, agricultural products, or waste. The fiber is commonly used in the textile industry to make clothing with several excellent properties: it is lightweight, durable, wrinkle-resistant, and retains its shape and color even after multiple washes. Polyester is often combined with other fibers to add even more positive qualities to the material, making it particularly useful in the production of sportswear and outdoor clothing.

Polyester tillverkad av återvunnen plast.

Which Printing Method is Suitable for Polyester?

Despite its favorable properties, print on polyester can be a challenge. Our stretchable and flexible Flex Heat Transfer is specially designed for activewear and, when applied correctly, delivers a perfect end result. This transfer is our general recommendation. However, some polyester garments may “bleed” through the print, causing the color from the fabric to migrate through the transfer and discolor it. If you’re printing on the garment for the first time, we advise you to first test the material for bleeding or consult your supplier if they have prior experience with this issue.
If you don’t have time to test the garment, we recommend using the Stark Heat Transfer, our durable and robust transfer, along with the addition Blocker.

This is how you print on polyester – step by step

In addition to testing the garment for bleeding, the application of transfer print on polyester does not significantly differ from other materials. What determines the heat press settings is rather the type of transfer you choose to use. For Flex Heat Transfer, we recommend 130°C with 2 – 6 bars (depending on the size of the subplate) for 15 seconds. For Stark Heat Transfer, we recommend 160°C with 2 – 6 bars for 15 seconds. If you have one of our heat presses and are unsure about the settings, please feel free to contact our sales support.

  1. Preparation
    Set the correct temperature, pressure, and time on the heat press. Place the heat transfer and garment within easy reach and prepare a work surface.
  2. Position the garment
    Place the clothing item on the heat press subplate, ensuring the material is clean, dry, and wrinkle-free. There should be no edges, zippers, or the like sticking out; in that case, you’ll need to use a rubber pad to elevate the printing surface. Otherwise, the heat iron won’t reach the entire transfer, and it won’t adhere properly.
  3. Preheat the garment
    To further create optimal conditions for a successful application, we recommend preheating the garment for at least 5 seconds. This helps to pre-shrink the garment, allowing you to apply the print to an even smoother surface.
  4. Position the transfer print
    Place the transfer with the grainy side facing down onto the garment. Adjust it to ensure proper alignment, for example, using a ruler or a cross laser.
  5. Start the application
    Initiate the heat iron on the heat press – if you’re using one of our machines, a two-handed grip is required for safety reasons. A cycle starts, and the heat iron descends. When the preset time is up, the heat iron automatically rises.
  6. Remove the carrier
    Remove the carrier from the transfer – you’re done! Then repeat the steps with the next clothing item.


Can you print on polyester?

Yes! Our Flex Heat Transfer is specially designed for sportswear and activewear. However, some polyester materials may bleed through and discolor the print. We recommend that you first test your material for bleeding or consult your supplier. If time is limited, you can choose Stark Heat Transfer with the Blocker add-on.

What temperature should be used for prints on polyester?

When putting a print on polyester materials, you follow the same instructions as for other materials – it’s the transfer itself that determines the settings for your heat press. For Flex Heat Transfer, it’s 130°C, and for Stark Heat Transfer, it’s 160°C.

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