How to Print on Clear Plastic Totes

Jason Murphy of Stahls' had great success with a low-temp application of Stahls' SuperTEK™ Sublistop.™

Jason Murphy of Stahls’ had great success heat printing on a clear PVC tote with a low-temp application of Stahls’ SuperTEK™ Sublistop.™

If you were one of those football fans who attended Sunday’s big game,  you may have been restricted to using a clear plastic tote bag for items you wanted to bring into the stadium. I know we ran into this when attending the NHL’s recent Winter Classic in Detroit. Even if you don’t frequently attend sports events at stadiums, you may already be aware of new policies at many venues, including NFL stadiums, that require the use of clear bags for anything brought into the stadium. These policies are in place for the safety of the fans. These bags are usually made out of clear PVC and are difficult to decorate. Or let’s say they WERE difficult to decorate until the introduction of our new Stahls’ TEK heat transfer materials. Jason Murphy accepted a heat printing challenge, finding out whether or not you could print on clear plastic PVC using a heat press. It turns out you can. “I basically started at 280 degrees, but the plastic changed color. Then I kept lowering the temperature until I got down to 170 degrees,” Jason told me. He sent me an email and called me and it is pretty exciting news. “I’ve been scratching it and trying to get it off all day,” he reported, “and I’ve even sprayed it with water and it still looks good.” Now this is not how we normally do our “official” product testing, but it’s how it usually starts, by solving a customer’s problem. We’re very excited about the implications of being able to heat print on clear PVC, since it opens the door to many new customization opportunities at stadiums, schools, stores and other work places that require clear bags for safety and security reasons. Thanks again to the many readers who responded so positively to our upcoming online live broadcast cutter training session. I’ll be posting more information on how you can participate in the near future.

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  1. Scott Stahl says:

    I came across your blog post on printing on PVC material. I called the Stahl’s office to get some information on this TEK product and they told me it would not work on my bags. Any help?

  2. Ted says:

    This type of specialty application is probably not something that is done everyday. As you can see from the blog, it was done as a test by a salesperson who wanted to stretch the limits of heat printing and he had good results. It will of course depend on the bag you are using but if the bag won’t be laundered, you can probably give it a try if you have an extra bag and a very accurate heat press. Sometimes you have to break the rules when it comes to heat printing. I wish you the best of luck with your application, let me know how it goes.

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