What’s the difference between heat transfer vinyl and adhesive vinyl?

A printed mug that has undergone the heat transfer process

If you’ve ever seen a piece of vinyl and you’re not sure what kind of vinyl it is, then this little explanation will help you figure it out!

Adhesive vinyl comes in all kinds of colours and finishes, but it always has a paper backing and is sticky to the touch when that backing is peeled off. Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV), on the other hand, does not have a paper backing. Instead, HTV, has a transparent or white plastic carrier sheet that covers the top of the vinyl. The other side is where the adhesive is (it’s not sticky), and this is the side of the vinyl that you will cut. The adhesive is activated when heat is applied on it.

However, this is not the only difference between the two. There are other more obvious differences.

HTV is applied to textiles and other substrates by using heat. The heat transfer can be done using a heat press machine, or for fun personal projects, a home iron.

Adhesive vinyl is not applied with heat, it’s basically a sticker. There are different types of adhesive vinyl you can choose from. You can choose a vinyl with a temporary or removable adhesive.

There are lots of subtypes of vinyl within each category.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

Although there are many types of HTV that we stock, a few include Flock HTV, Glitter HTV and Metallic HTV.

Flock HTV has a soft suede feel and is it’s a great HTV to use when you’re trying to replicate that colourful retro-sport look and is relatively easy to use if you’re a newbie.

Glitter HTV gives your textiles an extra sparkle! Just a note, it can be a challenge to weed, but the result is always spectacular!

For that ‘pop factor’, nothing is better for a t-shirt than a metallic HTV finish. It is a little stiffer than the other HTVs and does not stretch that well so it’s better to use for smaller prints than larger prints.

Adhesive Vinyl

Think all things road signs, wall decals and stickers! That is what adhesive vinyl was traditionally used for. However in present times, adhesive vinyl also appeals to the textile industry and apparel market.

At Sytech, we also have an extensive range of superior vinyl films, both cast and calendered. Types of films range from temporary adhesive, high tack adhesive to conformable films and more.

Temporary adhesive is great for short-term advertising on a variety of substrates including walls, ceilings, floors, and lots more.

High tack adhesive is used for long-term jobs as it is strong adhesive for tougher surfaces that require a robust type of media.

Conformable media comes in handy for conforming over curves and recesses. Popular applications include vehicle wrapping, car graphics and other curved surfaces.

For your crafts, when considering which type of vinyl to use, consider this basic rule: In general, if your surface is hard and smooth (walls, mugs, bottles, picture frames etc.), then it’s best to use adhesive vinyl. If your surface is soft and can withstand heat (clothing, shoes, books etc.), then heat transfer vinyl will work best!

Are you interested in creating crafty projects or are you involved in the textile or ceramic industries? Check out our range of top quality heat transfer films here: https://www.sytech.co.za/media/transfer-film/

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