Hot transfers can be used to provide parts with a decorative pattern or lettering. They consist of a pre-printed transfer film, on which the design has been applied. A hotplate is used to transfer the color coating from the film onto the part under pressure.
The difference with the hot stamping process is that the transfer film already contains the complete design, before it goes onto the part. In hot stamping, the decorative pattern is in the raised pattern on the die or the part. Pre-printing the film makes the hot transfer process relatively expensive compared to hot stamping. Hot transfers are specially suited to complicated multi-color images.
Hot transfers require a smooth part surface for good adhesion. As in all decorative processes, the parts should be clean and free of oils, grease and mold release. Cleaning of the parts may be necessary before applying the film. The compatibility of the coating with the part material must be checked, and careful pre-testing is recommended.