Supacolor Vs. Transfer Express Custom Apparel Provider

Custom printed apparel has become an extremely popular way for businesses, schools, and organizations to promote their brand. Two of the biggest names in custom apparel printing are Supacolor and Transfer Express. But which one is better for your needs?

This comprehensive guide examines the key differences between Supacolor and Transfer Express when it comes to types of printing offered, minimum order quantities, turnaround times, quality, pricing, and more.

A Brief Comparison Table

CategorySupacolorTransfer Express
Printing MethodsHeat transfers, direct to garment, screen printingHeat transfers
Minimum Order12 pieces1 piece
Turnaround Time5-7 daysAs fast as 1 day
Print QualityPhotorealistic with gradientsBold, vibrant colors
PricingStarts at $3/piece, setup feesStarts at $1.44/piece, no setup fees
Ideal CustomerBulk orders 50+ piecesOrders of just a few pieces
Order ProcessingAccount managersEasy online ordering
Art & DesignDedicated designersSimple online tools
Company SizeLarge capacitySmall specialized company
ShippingInternational, can be slowerFaster shipping, free US shipping

Overview of Supacolor

Founded in 1979, Supacolor is one of the pioneers and innovators in custom printed apparel. Headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Supacolor provides a wide variety of printing options for t-shirts, hoodies, hats, uniforms, and other garments.

Supacolor Custom Apparel

Some key things to know about Supacolor:

  • Specializes in heat transfers and digital printing
  • Offers screen printing through partner companies
  • Has production facilities in both Canada and the United States
  • Known for high-quality prints and large production capacity
  • Caters to businesses, event planners, schools, and organisations
  • Has dedicated account managers and designers

Overview of Transfer Express

Transfer Express, founded in 1995, is one of the leading providers of custom screen printed and digital heat transfers. Based in Miamisburg, Ohio, Transfer Express has built a reputation for fast turnaround times, low minimum orders, and excellent customer service.

Here are some key facts about Transfer Express:

  • Specializes in printed heat transfers
  • Does not offer direct screen printing services
  • Has one large production facility in Ohio
  • Emphasizes speed with turnaround times as fast as 1 day
  • Ideal for small quantity orders even just a few pieces
  • Popular with small businesses, coaches, crafters, and side hustlers

Key Differences Between Supacolor And Transfer Express

Now that we’ve provided a brief introduction to both companies, let’s compare them across some key factors:

Types of Printing Offered

The main printing technologies offered by Supacolor and Transfer Express are:


  • Heat transfers (inkjet printed)
  • Direct to garment digital printing
  • Screen printing (through partner companies)

Transfer Express

  • Heat transfers (screen printed)

So the main difference here is that Transfer Express focuses exclusively on heat transfers, while Supacolor offers a wider range of printing methods including digital direct printing and third-party screen printing.

Minimum Order Quantity


  • 12 piece minimum order for many products
  • Up to 36 piece minimum for some speciality items
  • Offer tiered pricing incentives at higher quantities

Transfer Express

  • 1 piece minimum order!
  • No setup fees or hidden minimums
  • Great for buying just a few custom prints

Transfer Express is the clear winner when it comes to low minimum order quantities. Their lack of setup fees and ability to order just one printed transfer makes them accessible even for very small buyers. Supacolor has higher minimums more suitable for bulk orders.

Turnaround Time

Turnaround time refers to how fast you can get your printed apparel order produced and shipped.


  • 5-7 business days standard turnaround
  • Offers rush production services for faster turnaround

Transfer Express

Transfer Express Custom Apparel
  • As fast as 1 day turnaround!
  • Most orders ship within 2-3 days
  • Made-to-order model allows fast processing

Transfer Express is hands-down better when you need your order super fast.

Their production model is optimized for speed, and orders can ship out in just 24 hours.

Supacolor offer quicker service than traditional screen printers, but Transfer Express takes speed to the next level.

Print Quality


  • Very high print quality, especially with Direct to Garment digital printing
  • Transfers offer photorealistic prints
  • Screen printing partner network are experienced providers

Transfer Express

  • Screen printed heat transfers offer bold, vibrant colors
  • Not as photorealistic as Direct to Garment or transfers
  • Focus is more on quick turnaround speed vs top quality

For maximum print quality with photorealistic images and gradients, Supacolor’s digital printing and heat transfers excel. Transfer Express prints are vibrant and bold but less realistic.



  • Print prices start around $3 per piece
  • Reduced per-unit pricing at higher quantities
  • Set-up fees around $25+

Transfer Express

  • Print prices start at $1.44 per piece
  • No setup fees or hidden minimums
  • Free shipping on orders $50+ in continental US

Transfer Express has lower per-unit print costs particularly at lower quantities. Supacolor offers better bulk discounts at high order volumes but higher minimums. Overall Transfer Express has an edge with lower minimums and fees.

Ideal Customer Base


  • Businesses ordering 50+ pieces
  • Schools and organizations
  • Event planners
  • Retail clothing lines

Transfer Express

  • Small businesses
  • Coaches/teachers ordering just a few pieces
  • Crafters and side hustlers
  • Startups on a budget

Supacolor’s pricing and higher minimums make them preferable for larger bulk orders. Transfer Express is the choice for small businesses or individuals just needing a few custom shirts printed.

Additional Factors

Some other considerations when choosing between the two providers:

  • Order Processing: Transfer Express offers easier online ordering. Supacolor has specialized account managers that provide white glove service and guidance.
  • Art & Design: Transfer Express has simpler online design tools. Supacolor provides dedicated designers for custom art creation.
  • Company Size: Transfer Express is smaller and specialized. Supacolor is a much larger printing company with greater capacity.
  • Shipping: Transfer Express offers faster and sometimes free shipping. Supacolor ships internationally but can be slower.

Which Should You Choose?

With this breakdown between Supacolor vs Transfer Express, which is best for your custom apparel order? Here are some quick recommendations based on different use cases:

  • Ordering just a few shirts? Transfer Express.
  • Need super fast 1 day turnaround? Transfer Express.
  • Want the highest photorealistic print quality? Supacolor.
  • Ordering 50+ shirts for business/event? Supacolor.
  • On a tight startup budget? Transfer Express.
  • Want dedicated account management? Supacolor.

Both companies are excellent providers of custom printed apparel. Choose Transfer Express if your priority is fast turnaround and low minimum orders. For bulk orders with premium print quality and account management, go with Supacolor.

Also Read: Is Charles Tyrwhitt Better Than Thomas Pink Shirts?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are answers to some common questions about Supacolor and Transfer Express:

What type of transfer is Supacolor?

Supacolor uses a durable heat transfer process called SuperTrans Plus that allows for photorealistic image quality that looks and feels like direct printing. The transfers apply designs onto garments using heat press machines.

Who are Supacolor competitors?

Some of Supacolor’s major competitors include: Transfer Express, Rush Order Tees, Ace Transfer Company, Howard Sportswear, Vistaprint.
However, Supacolor’s combination of transfer printing and direct-to-garment digital printing gives them a unique offering in the market.

Who are the competitors of Transfer Express?

The top competitors of Transfer Express include: Supacolor, F&M Expressions, Seay Graphics, Dowling Graphics, Wild Side Heat Press.
As one of the largest heat transfer providers, Transfer Express has managed to stand out through fast turnaround and great customer service.

What is the minimum order for Supacolor?

Supacolor’s minimum order quantity is typically 12 pieces per design. However, some specialty products like outerwear or fleece have higher minimums around 24-36 pieces. Their tiered pricing model provides incentives for larger bulk orders.

Final Thoughts

In summary, for large bulk orders of custom printed apparel with great print quality, Supacolor is likely the best option. But for fast turnarounds and super low minimum orders, Transfer Express cannot be beat.

Evaluate your specific needs and order details to determine which provider is a better fit. Both companies have their strengths and advantages over the competition.

Clayton S. Johnson

Well, I am Clayton who writes, manages, and does overall stuff for this website. I live somewhere in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and used to have a full-time job. But the pandemic taught me to do more do with my life. So, I quit my job and travel a lot! Since I have tons of time now, I write about all the stuff I have done, used, and have first-hand experiences.

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