Heat Transfer Paper: Inkjet vs. Laser

I wanted to give some light on a subject that I get questions about every day.  When choosing a heat transfer paper, should you choose inkjet or laser?

Inkjet printers have a higher quality print than laser printers with a larger selection of heat transfer papers to choose from. The options range from papers that excel in soft hand, less border, great color and more. Inkjet printers are easy to set up and you may already have one at home or in your office. Also, transfer papers for inkjet printers are more universal; they will work on most inkjet printers. However, inkjet printers tend to be more expensive when it comes to printing and ink replenishing.

Laser printers are more cost efficient and can print at high speeds when printing hundreds or thousands of pieces. I like laser transfers the best because of the fact that you don’t have to worry about the chance that your transfer may bleed in the wash. Laser transfers are far less likely to bleed during wash than transfer printed with inkjet printers. Inkjet printers are photo printers, which means the more ink, the better. However, that also means there is a possibility that your printer may put down too much ink for the inkjet transfer paper to soak up. Any excess ink that the paper cannot absorb will sit on top the paper and garment, thus, causing the transfer to bleed in the wash. A laser printer’s toner is less likely to bleed in the wash. So if you are having bleeding problems with inkjet transfers, you may want to look into laser transfer printing.

On the downside, laser printers run hot, so transfer papers don’t always have a smooth printing process and can easily get jammed. Trial and error is the best way to find a paper that works best with your printer. If your paper doesn’t run well, don’t give up!  Sometimes, if a particular paper does not work, you may need to merely change to a heavier paper mode on your printer options to accommodate the paper type.

So, in conclusion, when choosing a transfer paper you will need to decide what is more important to you — color and soft hand (inkjet) or cost and time efficiency (laser).

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2 thoughts on “Heat Transfer Paper: Inkjet vs. Laser”

  1. Our design studio in Atlanta is in need of some replacement printers. Due to the strange process in place we are having trouble finding a printer that will reliably feed the 11×17 transfer paper they use. It’s the neenah mugs n more paper. They print black to card stock then transfer foil to the card stock. The print transfers to go on top of the card stock and foil. The foil will only work with toner so an ink jet is out. The typically print 11k-23K color jobs a month. The transfer paper seems to slip slightly and jams on just about every printer we have tried. Current printer is a docucolor 240

    We have tried Canon C5051, Xreox Phaser 7800, Oki and so on. the 8×11 does OK on most but 11×17 seems to jam about once every 20 pages or so even after physically altering the printer. It jammed on every page before the hacks were put in place.

    Any Ideas a reliable laser jet for mugs n More 11×18?

    1. Matching laser printers to laser transfer papers can be tricky. Unfortunately, we don’t have a list of printers that work specifically with the Mugs N More transfer paper, but here are a few tips on printers and the printing process:

      1. Use a laser printer that has a fusing temperature BELOW 350 degrees F. If it is above that temperature, it means that your printer will probably be too hot to handle heat transfer paper.

      2. We have found that HP and Brother printers tend to run too hot and have more problems with transfer papers than other laser printers. Our favorite printer brand has generally been the Okidata.

      3. If the paper is jamming, make sure you are running the paper through one sheet at a time, in the manual feed tray and on “transparency” mode. This heavier paper mode helps the transfer paper slow down.

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