Yes, you can heat-press vinyl onto fabric to easily slap designs onto shirts, bags, and hats. Problem is, vinyl rarely lasts as long as more work-intensive screen-printed designs, leaving you to choose between simplicity and durability. The Cricut Infusible Ink is looking to change that.
That’s right, the company that makes those die-cutting machines for crafters is now making ink. And it’s not just any kind of ink. Instead, it’s the kind that you can use to permanently apply designs onto fabrics, with a print quality that can rival those found in commercial products, all while being as easy to use as other heat-press printing solutions.
The Cricut Infusible Ink is an ink transfer product that’s designed to be infused into compatible materials, where it will bond permanently with fibers, so you get yourself a design that won’t crack, peel, or fade over time. It comes in two forms: transfer sheets and pens, both of which use the same ink formulation. Transfer sheets come pre-printed with designs that use the ink, which you can then cut into your desired shapes (you can cut them on your die-cutter) for printing onto your blanks, while pens can be used to manually draw designs from scratch. For transfer purposes, the pens should be used on laser copy paper, as it’s been designed to work specifically with that. Sadly, there’s no way to print designs using the ink from a computer, which greatly limits the potential for anything other than small printing projects.
To apply the design, you simply use a heat press to transfer it onto any compatible blank material at temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. During transfer, the heat transforms the ink into gas, which causes it to transfer onto the target material before going back to a solid state once it’s colled. This allows it to fuse directly with the material instead of simply bonding on top of it, which enables the unique level of durability.
The catch? The Cricut Infusible Ink only works with polyester and polyester/spandex blend, so it can only be used on a limited set of fabrics. That means, if you’re looking to print designs on a cotton shirt or a leather cap, this isn’t even a viable option, so it’s not a permanent replacement for your standard printing gear. If you’re looking to leave your designs on shirts, totes, and similar products made with polyester, though, this should make for a great solution, considering the quality of the print you’ll end up with.
Cricut, of course, has their own line of blank products that are compatible with the ink, namely shirts, totes, baby onsesies, and ceramic coasters. As of now, they only guarantee the ink transfer to work on their own products, so if you try to print it on a shirt you own, it will likely be a hit or miss. Knowing printing hobbyists, though, it won’t be long before we see experiments of people trying to use this with a whole load of materials to see if it will work.