What You Need To Start a Heat Transfer Vinyl T-Shirt Business

If you are reading this article, you must be thinking about starting a business in apparel decorating.

You could be just thinking of a way to get your feet wet, or you could be motivated to become your own boss and start making some serious money.

Either way, heat transfer vinyl might be a great place for you to start. Here’s why:

After reading this article you will know the supplies and equipment you will need to get started.

Vinyl Cutting Plotter

The very first thing you need for making custom tees with heat transfer vinyl is a cutter.

The way this work is you place a roll of vinyl through the back side of the machine and secure it in place. Then, a sharp blade goes over the vinyl, cutting your design where indicated by the art file.

There are a few different types and styles of vinyl cutters though and they all come at a different prices range.

Hobby Vinyl Cutter


You can start a vinyl business with a small hobby cutter like a Cricut or silhouette machine. You can find vinyl cutters like these at big box stores like Michaels or Walmart, so they are very easy to find and bring home that same day.

But they are hobby machines, so they are smaller and slower than something that is commercial grade.

Commercial Vinyl Cutter

Graphtec ce7000

The Graphtec ce7000 works the same way as these hobby cutters except it is a commercial grade cutter.

So, what does this mean:

You can find the Graphtec ce7000 online here.

Print and Cut System

Roland VersaStudio BN20

Now if you are looking to really get the ball rolling on your vinyl business and want a machine that is very versatile. A print and cut system might be best for you.

The Roland VersaStudio BN20 & BN20A uses a white printable vinyl. It prints digital art and designs, then it contour cuts around it.

This allows you to not be limited to single color designs and gives you the opportunity to do digital art designs.

However, material for the Roland Printer Cutter isn’t limited to heat transfer vinyl. You can also print on sticker paper, window cling, car decals, banner material and more.

You can find roll media for the Roland Print & Cut System here.

Print and Cut Vinyl

T-Shirt Vinyl | Triton Heat Transfer Vinyl

The next most important thing you need for your custom t-shirt business is vinyl!

When people make t-shirts with heat transfer vinyl, they mostly stick to one color designs and sometimes will venture out to multi-colored designs. This is because with each color, is another layer of vinyl you will need to cut, weed, and heat press on.

But many vinyl business owners will keep tons of different colors of vinyl in stock so that they always have what they need handy.

When we make custom apparel, Triton Heat Transfer Vinyl is our go-to brand. Here’s why:

Weeding Picks

The next accessories on my list of vinyl business essentials, are weeding picks.

This isn’t a necessity BUT they are a great tool that can save you from some headaches and speed up your production.

When you cut out a design with vinyl, you have remove the extra pieces of vinyl that aren’t part of your design. This is what the term weeding refers to.  

This is usually pretty easy, but sometimes the smaller pieces can be tough to get out. Especially if you don’t have good fingernails.

Weeding picks have sharp picks on either side that help grab the vinyl and release it from the carrier sheet.

You can find a pack of 4 weeding picks here.

Cut Ready Art Files

When you send an art file or design to your cutting plotter, it has to be in a format that your machine can read.

Different machines accept different file types of vector, cut ready files. Some popular examples of these file types include:

You can either learn to make these yourself, buy then off sites like Etsy from other creators, or you can send art to a graphics company like ColDesi Graphics and they can turn it into a cut file for you.

Wholesale Blank Apparel and Accessories

Obviously, you are also going to need blank shirts and other stuff that you can put your vinyl designs on!

When you are trying to make a good profit, access to wholesale blank brands and prices is important.

On our supply division website, we have made this very easy. Anyone can simply make an account and have access to tons of wholesale blanks and accessories.

We carry tons of popular brands like District, Next Level, and Bella+Canvas as well as shirts, pants, hats, towels and more.

Heat Press | Galaxy Heat Press

The final thing you need for your vinyl business is a heat press. T-shirt vinyl is a heat applied vinyl. This means it uses heat and pressure to bond to t-shirt fabrics.

However, Triton Heat Transfer Vinyl does not need much heat and time and the pressure does need to be exact, so you can get away with a budget heat press for your business.

We highly recommend the Galaxy line of heat presses to start a vinyl business. They are dependable and budget friendly.

The Galaxy 15 x 15 Heat Press is the perfect mix between hobby and commercial grade and the platen size is perfect for t-shirt pressing.

Next Steps | Chat with a Pro

Before you start shopping for these equipment and supplies, I recommend reaching out to one of our specialists via live chat. They know all about vinyl business supplies and have helped tons of other people, just like you, get their business started. Talking with a pro can help you get exactly products you need and set you up for success.

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