Patches Are Heating Up
In the world of custom patches, you’ll see multiple different references to heat. Custom patches with certain shapes, for example, are given a hot cut edge when a merrow edge can’t be created. Iron on patches feature an adhesive backing that has to be heated up in order for the patch to affix to a surface. When you toss heat transfer patches into the mix, it’s easy to see how things can get confusing.
We get a lot of questions about our heat transfer patches. While we wish most of the questions we received were about how many of these awesome patches could be purchased at once, the truth is the majority of people who ask us about this particular patch type are simply confused as to what it is. If you’ve been curious about whether or not heat transfer patches are right for you, here’s a quick rundown of the different features and strengths of this patch.
A Patch by Any Other Name
The first thing to know about heat transfer patches is that they go by a number of different names. Depending on where you find them, it’s possible you might see these patches referred to as dye sublimation (or dye sub) patches, or even photo patches.
Whether they’re being called heat transfer or dye sub patches, these names always refer to the method used to create the patch. Much like embroidered patches are made by designs being embroidered onto a mesh backing, or PVC patches are made with PVC, dye sub patches are created through a process called dye sublimation.
In dye sublimation, the artwork for your patches is first printed onto a sheet of transfer paper. Heat and pressure are then used to transfer the artwork into the patch itself. We say “into” instead of “onto” because the heat and pressure cause the design to change states from a liquid to a gas, and the artwork is actually infused into the fabric as opposed to being printed on top of it. This not only gives heat transfer patches unrivaled detail, it also allows the artwork to last through multiple washes for the life of the patch.
When someone refers to a heat transfer patch as a photo patch, they’re referring to the photo-realistic quality of these patches. Because they don’t rely on thread or PVC to create their designs, these patches are capable of capturing an exceptional amount of detail. More than that, we can also take actual photos and recreate them perfectly for your patches. If you’re looking to create a patch honoring a specific person, or if you want a specific landscape presented in perfect detail, these patches are the only way to go.
Either way, the important thing to remember is that heat transfer patches, photo patches and dye sub patches are all referring to the same type of patch.
Heat Transfer Does Not Mean Iron On
One of the most common points of confusion for our customers is the difference between heat transfer patches and iron on patches. It’s understandable; if you don’t know about the dye sublimation process that goes into creating these types of patches, then the phrase “heat transfer” sounds like it can be describing the way the patches are attached to a surface.
However, simply put, that’s not what the phrase heat transfer is referring to. A heat transfer patch is a specific type of patch. An iron on backing is just one of many different attachment options for getting your patch in place. The good news about this is that while we can’t really combine patch types for a single design, each of our patch types can be paired with any of our attachment options. So while heat transfer and iron on are not the same thing, it’s perfectly possible to get a heat transfer patch with an iron on backing.
Heat transfer patches don’t use thread to create their designs. The phrase is not synonymous with an iron on backing. All you need to know when considering whether to choose a heat transfer patch is that they are created through a process called dye sublimation, and they’re the perfect option for recreating photos in picture-perfect detail.