Basic Hotfix Principles Material CheckPreparationApplicationFinishing

Preparation 


Generally, the following parameters are most important when carrying out Hotfix applications of Swarovski crystals:

  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Application time
  • Application side

A detailed summary of all application parameters can be found in the Hotfix Selector table.


Temperature

Swarovski Hotfix adhesive is activated within a temperature range of 120°C to 170°C (250°F to 340°F). A suitable application temperature can be selected from this range according to the carrier material and its sensitivity to heat.

With heat presses, the temperature selected on the display does not always reflect the actual temperature on the surface of the press. Often, the temperature can be distributed unevenly, or one heat plate may be defective.


It is therefore recommended to regularly check the temperature with a laser measuring device or temperature measuring strips at various points on the heating surface, to ensure the temperature is distributed evenly across it.
Checks should be carried out regularly (once per week), particularly during production.

Pressure

The pressure setting depends on the Hotfix elements to be applied, the carrier material, and the technical equipment (machines, etc.) available.


Too much pressure can cause the adhesive to be spread out and can also affect the surface of the carrier material. Too little pressure, however, can result in a weak and insufficient bond between the crystal and the carrier material.

In general, the pressure should be applied directly to the crystal elements (e.g. Flat Backs Hotfix, Transfers, Crystal Mesh).
It is therefore necessary to check if there are any buttons, zippers or other raised parts surrounding them. Always use a compensating pad to even out the surface.

When applying Swarovski crystals of different heights, a compensating pad should always be used.Silicone foam, foam rubber or felt can be used here.

The parallel plane of the heat press

Take care to apply pressure evenly when using a heat press with a scissor mechanism. The upper plate of the heat press must be completely horizontal in order to effectively and evenly distribute pressure and temperature.

Checks should always be carried out to make sure the plates are parallel. This can be done by placing paper test strips into the press and closing it with the least possible pressure. After this, if it takes the same force to pull out each strip, the plates are parallel.


Application time

In general, the application time should be sufficient to allow the hot-melt glue to be fully activated, and then to penetrate the carrier material.
The application time necessarily depends on the Hotfix elements, the temperature selected, the machine used, the carrier material and the application side.

A detailed summary can be found in the Hotfix Selector table. Please note that the times stated are intended as a guideline. When adapting them to your application, it is recommended to carry out tests on the original material.


Application side

Hotfix elements can usually be applied from the front and the back. A shorter application time can be achieved with thinner fabrics by applying crystals from the back, as the heat reaches the adhesive through the carrier material faster, activating it immediately.

  
Application front back

Rear (reverse) side of fabric is exposed to heat

Application front back Application front back

Front (right) side of fabric is exposed to heat

When applying Hotfix products on thick or multi-layered fabrics (such as seams) the application side selected should be the one that allows the heat to be transferred to the hot-melt adhesive quickest. This ensures fast, optimum activation.

Note that the shape and size (causing irregular temperature penetration) of many items (e.g. Crystaltex Cabochons, Creation Transfers Plus) will only allow an application from the back. Further information can be found in the Hotfix Selector table.

Defining the optimum application parameters

Adhesive has been successfully activated when, using a magnifying glass, it is possible to see a thin edge of glue formed around the crystal. On thin fabrics, the optimum application parameters are chosen when the glue will have lightly penetrated through the fabric and is lightly visible at the reverse.

When parameters have been incorrectly selected, such as an extreme application temperature, pressure, or application time, significant amounts of glue can spread out.

When the application temperature or pressure is too low, or the application time too short, the adhesive cannot be sufficiently activated, leading to problems with adhesion.