Top 15 Best Heat Press Machine Reviews For The Money 2019
Early last year, Sam, one of our fans, sent us an email asking us for ideas on a small business that was safe, low-cost, and profitable. He’d just dropped out of college and had gathered some 5K to start a business that was going to be a stepping stone to his dream business – music.
One of the ideas we gave him was the heat press business, and that’s what he ventured into.
To cut a long story short, Sam has gathered enough profits from the business in less than two years to start a state-of-the-art recording studio, and he’s financially stable now but guess what?
He says he’s not closing his heat press business as he’d initially purposed. In fact, he’s planning to expand it, saying he’s ‘fallen in love with it’. Obviously, his attachment to the business has something to do with the success he’s realized.
When we interviewed him on the things that have contributed to his success, Sam naturally cited good management, but there’s something else he mentioned – a good heat press machine.
Friends, if you’re planning to go into heat printing, we’d definitely encourage you to go through with the idea. If Sam is doing great with it, we don’t see why you shouldn’t.
But, no matter your management skills, your business’s growth will depend profoundly on the quality of the products, and that will be determined by the heat press machine you’re using.
Without further ado, we’ll introduce to you the 15 best heat press machines and hand you lots of other info that will come in handy when starting or growing a t-shirt printing business.
Oh, and remember, a good heat press machine isn’t just great for a business; it’s a powerful tool for a design DIYer or hobbyist.
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What Is a Heat Press Machine and What Are the Benefits of Using It?
A heat press is an appliance that uses heat, pressure, and time to transfer designs onto substrates like fabrics, plastics, and ceramics.
This machine is popular in the t-shirt printing business, as it features low start-up costs yet offers a high profit margin.
The benefits of using this appliance include:
Our Picks Of The Top 15 Best Heat Press T-shirt Printing Machine Reviews
1. PowerPress HPM-1515-BK Industrial-Quality
The reason as to why we placed the PowerPress HPM-1515-BK first on our list is that it’s the perfect deal both for small business and personal use. From the quality of the machine to the ease of use, everything is designed with you, the consumer, in mind.
You know how you have to place a Teflon sheet over the t-shirts to avoid burning them? Well, you don’t need the sheet for that purpose anymore as the heating element of this tool is already Teflon-coated to provide the protection needed.
That means reliable safety for your garments plus reduced production cost as the Teflon coat expenses are eliminated.
Overheating and short circuiting are some of the most notorious causes of heat press failure. Overheating also reduces the work efficiency as you have to turn off the machine many times.
Now, if you don’t want to deal with these problems, we recommend you get the PowerPress HPM-1515-BK. Why? This tool comes with a 1400-W replaceable fuse that prevents both short-circuiting and overheating.
As mentioned, the ease of use is one of the factors that make this tool superior. Regarding that, the machine features an LCD control board with digital controls for both the time and the temperature.
The time range is very wide, running from 0 to 999 seconds, and so is the temperature range, which goes from 0 to 450 °F. The heat platen distributes heat evenly across the board, thereby ensuring the output is splendid.
2. Fancierstudio Power Heat
If you’re looking for a great clamshell style t shirt press machine, you have got to try the Fancierstudio Power Heat.
The work surface of this appliance measures 15 by 15 inches and has a silicone base board to ensure there’s even pressure, which in turn makes it possible to transfer designs beautifully.
The silicone base is glued down, making it firm and preventing the project from moving while you’re operating the machine.
Ordinarily, when printing your fabrics with a heat press machine, there’s always the fear of burning the fabrics. Teflon sheets are used to eliminate this problem and the fear with it.
But again, using a Teflon sheet isn’t always so convenient because you have to place the substrate, then lay the sheet over it properly, and that introduces more work.
Fancierstudio has solved this problem by adding a heat plate coat to their press. So, there’s no need to use a Teflon sheet. The project won’t stick onto the heat platen, and hence the removal afterward will be effortless.
The coat also eases the cleaning afterward as there’s no stuck matter on there.
If you don’t have much space, getting a swing-away design or a drawer kind of press wouldn’t work out very well for you. But this upward-opening clamshell press will save space for you and moreover, its dimensions are 30 by 19 by 17, meaning the machine is compact.
The temperature and time ranges are quite wide, going from 0 to 669 °F and 0 to 999 secs respectively.
3. VEVOR 8 in 1 Heat Press
If you want a heat press for your business, it makes sense to get one that helps you print not only garments but also mugs, plates, and other items, right?
With the VEVOR 8 in 1 Heat Press, you can print not only t-shirts but also tiles, cups, plates, jigsaw puzzles, mouse pads, caps, and more.
This press comes with 8 attachments for 8 different items, making it a perfect pick not only for a business person but also any DIYer who enjoys working on different projects.
When we’re talking about the ease of operation, this gadget is truly superior, thanks to its microprocessor program. With this, you need not configure the temperature, pressure and other settings every time. If you’re pressing similar substrates, the parameter memory truly comes in handy.
The control panel has touch buttons, making the machine even easier and exciting to operate. The LED lights make it possible to operate the machine even when there’s not much lighting.
Talk of the aesthetics. Nobody wants an ugly piece of equipment in their house or workshop, or do you? Luckily, the press is designed beautifully, featuring a glossy black finish and some white areas. The thing has a touch of elegance.
As a swing-away press model rotating at a 360° angle, this product makes it safe for you to design your t-shirt without having to worry too much about burns by getting the heat platen out of the way.
The heating board measures 15 by 15 inches and the temperature and time range from 0 to 480 °F and 0 to 999 seconds.
4. Super Deal PRO 5 in 1
For those of you who want to be able to press a range of items, the Super Deal PRO 5 in 1 will be an excellent selection.
With this machine’s five pressing elements, there’s no limit to what you can design. You can print items ranging from caps and t-shirts to ceramic tile and plates, mouse pads, wood, metal, and so forth.
As a swinger, this press is extremely easy to use. You can rotate it at an angle of 360°, completely getting it out of the way and creating enough room for laying the project without risking burns.
The machine comes with a digital LED control panel and touch buttons, making it very easy to configure the temperature and time. If the lighting in the room is not very good, the LED light ensures you can carry on with your work.
A major problem associated with heat presses is that of the project sticking to the heat platen, and this causes damage to not only the project (i.e. transfer paper and substrate) but also the machine.
To solve this problem, the Super Deal PRO machine’s heat platen is coated to make it non-stick and the other pressing elements are made of upgraded aluminum alloy that is also non-stick.
Uneven pressure is another issue that affects heat transfer machines. It’s even worse when the pad at the bottom is not removable and you have no way of replacing it when it wears.
This press from Super Deal has removable cotton and silicone pads, making it possible to replace them when they wear. To further ensure the pressure stays even for a long time, the manufacturer built structural supports into the base.
5. Mophorn Heat Press Machine
Introducing the Mophorn Heat Press Machine – this is a 5-in-1 multifunctional heat press machine with a splendid design.
The machine is obviously good-quality but what we loved most was the perfect design and those black, blue, and white colors that will match most home or office decors.
As a 5-in-1 press, it comes with all the must-have pressing elements, including one for t-shirts, plates, caps, and cups. With this, you can work on projects of different materials ranging from flax and cotton to glass and ceramics.
As a swing-away press featuring a full 360° swivel, the machine makes it possible for you to get the heating plate out of the way and set your substrate safely on the pressing pad. It’s, therefore, a good choice if you want to avoid burn accidents.
How would you like a press with a spring-press rod that makes it possible to work easily and conveniently? Yep, that’s what this Mophorn press gives thee.
The heat plate has a special spring design, and this helps the heat to travel uniformly and ensure you have an efficient press.
And how would you like a lightweight press plate that makes it super easy to press? Yeah, this machine’s press plate is made of aluminum as opposed to the conventional solid steel framework, making it light and easy to work with.
Another feature that further increases the ease of use is the digital LED controllers and the well-designed pressure adjustment knob that gives you high precision.
6. ZENY JA0854
Here goes yet another 5-in-1 t shirt press machine with a superb design and excellent features.
The ZENY JA0854 is a swing-away heat printing machine that features a full rotation of the heat platen to make it not only easy to position the project but also safe for the user. With this appliance, the risks of getting burned are pretty low.
Having 5 different pressing elements, the machine enables you to work on a broad array of projects, including pressing t-shirts, plates, lettering, jigsaw puzzles, and cups.
It also helps you work on a variety of materials including nylon, chemical fiber, ceramics, and glass.
Which of these are you used to – degree Celsius or Fahrenheit? Well, it doesn’t matter because, with this appliance, you can just select the one you’re comfortable using.
The pressure is a factor you’ve got to be able to control with high precision if you’re to achieve great results.
Now, this press comes with a full-range pressure adjustment knob, and with this, you can set the pressure perfectly according to the type and thickness of the material you’re pressing.
Moreover, there’s a multi-spring balancer, which helps keep the pressure uniform while increasing the press’s stability to make sure the outcome is great.
You like something that is easy to use, don’t you? Well then, this shirt pressing machine has a digital LCD control panel for configuring the time and temperature effortlessly and conveniently.
7. F2C Pro 5 in 1 Swing-Away Press
If you’re looking for the best heat press for home use, we’d definitely encourage you to check out the F2C Pro 5 in 1.
Why? Firstly, the machine comes with all the must-have attachments. Secondly, it has great features, which we’ll talk about in a moment and thirdly, it is an affordable heat press considering its great quality.
Let’s talk about the design first. Well, the machine is a swinger, with a full 360-degree rotation of the heat platen. As you will learn later (in the buying guide), a swinger needs more space than the other types of presses like clamshell and draw, but it’s perfect for safety.
In other words, you can get the heat platen out of the way entirely and position your project with relative ease, accuracy, and of course safety (from the heat).
The machine comes with 5 different pressing elements. First is the t-shirt press. This one is coated with Teflon to give it a non-stick surface and ensure that your project is not messed up while easing the clean up task afterward. The t-shirt press measures 12 by 15 inches.
Second is the curved 6 by 3-inch cap/hat press. Third is the 3 by 3.5-inch cup/mug press. Fourth is the plate press #1, which accepts plates with a maximum diameter of 15 inches, and fifth is the plate press #2, which accepts plates with a maximum diameter of 26 inches.
As mentioned before, the t-shirt press is coated with Teflon to make it non-stick. But what about the other pressing elements for the cap, plate, and so on? These are designed with an upgraded aluminum alloy to make them non-stick.
8. ePhoto New Digital Heat Press 1515GB
Need a good heat press machine for beginners? The ePhoto New Digital Heat Press 1515GB just might be what you’re looking for.
This machine is only meant for pressing garments and doesn’t come with all the addons for printing other items like cups, plates, and so forth. And this makes sense because let’s face it – as a beginner, you’re not well versed with the workings of a heat press.
Rather than biting off more than you can chew, the best approach would be to move step by step, learning how to print garments and then moving on to other items.
Having to buy a Teflon sheet introduces more expenses, and if you want to evade these, then this ePhotonic press will be a perfect selection. A new Teflon sheet is included as a gift.
Apart from that, the heat platen is coated with Teflon to make certain your projects don’t stick onto it.
Operating a heat press indoors can be a real hassle especially if the room’s lighting is not very good. To solve this problem, the machine has an LCD control board that displays the time and temperature vividly.
And talking of the time and temperature, you can set this to 0 to 999 secs and 0 to 500 °F respectively.
Even heat distribution is vital to the proper transfer of designs. The manufacturer designed the heat platen specially for this purpose, and that’s why the heat is even across the heat platen.
9. Promo Heat Swing-away Machine
Excellent durability coupled up with great features along with several other factors make the Promo Heat Swing-away Machine the best heat press machine for t shirts.
Stand by and allow us to expound on this claim.
You might have realized that most heat presses meant for pressing just t-shirts have a clamshell design. While a clamshell design is great for saving space, a swing away design like that of this machine boosts the safety and the ease of operation.
With regards to that, you can rotate the heat platen, moving it well out of the way so you can place your substrate effectively.
We’d advise you to go for safety and ease of use over the space efficiency, and anyway, it’s not like there’s a huge difference in space consumption.
As said before, the Promo Heat Swing-away Machine is built to last. This is made possible by the heavy-duty steel construction. It’s a commercial-grade press that will work great for anyone.
A heavy-duty construction might lead you to think the press must be heavy and bulky, but that’s not the case.
The machine actually only weighs around 30 pounds, making it a good choice for a portable heat press.
Of course, professionals and DIYers use this appliance primarily to press t-shirts, but is that all that the machine is meant for? Of course not! You can use it to press a variety of items, including mouse pads, wood, ceramic tiles, glass, and even license plates.
10. ShareProfit 5 In 1 Digital Press
So, what’s so special about the ShareProfit 5 In 1 Digital Press? That’s the same question we asked Sam when he told us that this beast was among his heat press machines collection.
The first reason is an obvious one – the machine is a five in one. As such, it comes with all the pressing elements needed for pressing a whole range of items.
There’s the main press for pressing t-shirts, tiles, cardboard, and other items with a similar shape (planar).
Apart from this, there’s a separate press for each of the following items – cups, caps, and plates (there are two of these to accommodate different sizes of plates).
This press is a swinger, meaning you can swivel the heat plate and move it a good distance from the bottom plate to set your items without hassle. And of course, that introduces the safety aspect, where you don’t have to worry about burns.
Setting the pressure, time and temperature isn’t exactly a piece of cake for the beginners, but once you get used to the machine, the task becomes easy.
The pressure adjustment knob helps you achieve the right pressure while the touchpad helps you configure the time and temperature.
Shareprofit is one of the trustworthy brands so if you love shopping by brand, you definitely want to consider this t shirt press machine.
11. MyPress Gen 2
One look at the MyPress Gen 2 and you’ll realize there’s something different with this machine. It may cost double the price of some of the presses we’ve discussed above, but it’s quality, results, and ease of use are unmatched.
In fact, if you can just have a look at its reviews on amazon, you’ll see that most of the buyers are singing songs of praise about it. As one buyer says, the press is simply amazing. Let’s see how.
Most presses have their digital control panel at the back or the side, and it slants in such a way that sitting in front of the machine, you can’t have a good view. For some weird reason, the manufacturers think the design is good. Or perhaps its economical on their side.
This one, however, has its LCD panel facing toward the front so that you can just sit there, sipping a cup of coffee or whatever and monitoring the press without stress.
Ease of use is what this machine is mostly about, and if you’re the kind that hates manual operation, then you’ll find it quite fitting.
As soon as the platens have locked, the press does the rest of the work, maintaining an even pressure and all you have to do is sit and wait for the press to get completed.
The brand even has videos on its YouTube channel illustrating how to use the press optimally.
The temperature range of this machine ranges from 100 to 250 °F, and while that might not seem wide, most fabrics require temperatures within this range, so it’s not a big deal. The time scale runs from 0 to 999 secs.
12. Dulytek DM1005
Here goes another heat press featuring a design that is a bit different from the traditional one. Like the previous machine we’ve discussed, the Dulytek DM1005 has a front-facing LCD board, making the monitoring process extremely easy.
Many people that have used this machine have expressed their satisfaction with it, and this can be attributed to the fact that the press has numerous great features.
However, before you purchase it, you need to know that the heat plates are small, measuring only 3 by 5 inches.
As said before, the control panel is front facing. This part contains touch controls for the time and temperature, enabling you to configure these parameters effortlessly.
Another unique feature of the machine is the lever. Rather than the usual lever that looks like the end of a shovel, the lever we have here is an L-shaped sort of shaft with a big gripping surface. The gripping surface is covered with rubber, making it very comfortable for the user.
Because of the creative design of the lever, the user is able to apply the pressure with ease. And in fact, the patent for the lever design is pending, showing it’s really something great.
We have to mention that the overall design of the machine is stunning. It has highly-elegant silver and black colors, and the plates are stainless steel. Have a look at the pictures and see how you like the design.
13. TUSY Heat Press Machine
Want a great clamshell-style heat transfer machine? Try the TUSY Heat Press. This is an upward-opening press equipped with all the features that make a heat press easy to use.
The heat plates have a size of 15 by 15 inches, meaning you can use it to transfer large designs onto sweatshirts, tiles, t shirts, cardboard, and other suitable items with a planar shape.
Ease of operation is one of the good things about this machine. First, there is an LCD panel displaying the time and temperature, and furthermore, the controls for these parameters are electronic.
The machine comes assembled fully, and you only have to connect it to the power to start pressing your items. The lever is easy to push to operate, and its gripping surface is rubber-coated and optimized for comfort, thus making pressure application a breeze.
There’s also a pressure adjustment knob, and this makes it easy to set a precise pressure level.
And what about the durability? You ask. You’ll be glad to learn that the press is industrial quality and built to last. It made of steel and properly welded to stay intact for years on end.
With the right maintenance, such as cleaning regularly and lubricating the moving parts, you can count on it to serve you for decades.
And what of temperature distribution across the heat platen? Okay, first, the heat platen is coated with Teflon and designed specially to make temperature even across the board.
14. Transfer Crafts T-Shirt Press
If you love buying based on user ratings, then you might want to check out the Transfer Crafts T-Shirt Press.
Almost all the people that have used this machine say they’re greatly pleased with the results. One user we spoke to (Monica) talked called it “the best heat press machine for small business” and gave it great reasons as discussed below.
First, she talked about the effectiveness of the press. She said that she tried out different items, including shirts and a jigsaw puzzle, she loved the splendid way in which the designs were getting transferred onto the substrate.
We dug a little deeper to find out the secret to this high effectiveness and discovered the heat on the heat plate is uniform, thus heating the substrate evenly on the part being pressed.
Additionally, we found out that the pressure is uniform due to some built-in mechanisms for stabilization.
Monica, however, pointed out to us that getting results is also about getting the settings right. She said that the time and temperature have to be set correctly according to the fabric and the transfer paper being used.
The second items she talked about was the ease of operation. She alluded to the LCDs and said how they made it super easy to configure the machine even in poor lighting.
She also mentioned that the controls for the time and temperature are electronic and that the scales range from 0 to 999 secs and 0 to 500 °F.
And lastly, she talked of the machine’s rugged nature, saying she expects it to last a long time.
15. F2C Pro 5 in 1 Combo Heat Press
If you’re looking for a good old heat press to get your business rolling, you certainly want to consider the F2C Pro 5 in 1 Combo Heat Press. This is a swinger with a 360-degree swivel of the heat platen and a bunch of great features. Let’s talk about them.
The first benefit we noted is the ease of use. The machine has a digital LED control panel with up and down touch buttons for setting the heat level and the time. With this, you can easily and precisely configure the machine to ensure the results are as you want.
The heat platen has a non-stick surface, and this feature presents ease of use, safety, and ease of clean-up afterward.
With a non-stick surface, you needn’t lay a Teflon sheet, and thus you reduce the work. Where does the safety come in? Well, your project is in less risk of getting scorched and ruined.
And as the project won’t stick to the heat platen, the cleanup will be super easy.
Another feature associated with the ease of use is the pressure knob, which ensures that after pressing down the upper platen with the lever, you can bring the pressure to a precise level.
As the name suggests, the machine has 5 presses, denoting it fits a broad range of applications. There is a 12 by 15-inch t-shirt press, as well as presses for mugs, plates, and hats.
And it’s not just about the aspect of being multi-functional. All the attachments work efficiently and this is a unique thing.
Heat Press Machine Buying Guide for Beginners
Do you need the best t shirt press for a small business or do you need one for home use? These are just some of the questions you got to ask yourself before making a purchase.
Like when you’re getting a 3d printer, the build, efficiency, and price are some of the other factors you need to take into consideration.
Let’s have a deeper look into the factors to consider.
When buying a t-shirt printing machine, you definitely want to go for something that’s made from robust materials like steel for the sake of longevity. The size is another factor you got to think about for the purpose of not just the space efficiency but also the applications.
Bear in mind that heat press machines come in variable sizes such as 12by 9, 16 by 20, 15 by 15, and so on (measurements in inches). Consider your printing requirements or rather the size of the items you’ll be pressing and then go for the size that suits you.
Don’t forget that the space you have also determines the suitability of the machine’s size.
Heat printing machine prices range from 100 bucks, and while a 100-buck machine seems like a good option for someone on a tight budget, it’s to be noted that the lower the price, the lower the efficiency and durability of the machine.
If you want high output and better chances of making profits from the great quality of the output, it makes sense to go for a more expensive machine.
Quality is a tricky factor given that no manufacturer will tell you about the flaws in their machine. But, there are certain other aspects that will give you an idea of the quality of the machine. What materials is it made from? Stainless steel and other sturdy materials signify excellent quality and assure you about the machine’s durability.
Apart from that, you want to check what other people are saying about the machine, and that’s where online reviews come in. A review site like ours offers you honest takes on items, but you should also check what the other buyers are saying on Amazon.
A bigger warranty period that doesn’t come with too many conditions shows the manufacturer is confident about their product’s quality. It also shows they’ll take responsibility in case there’s a flaw.
The heat Platen
The heat platen is the tool’s heating element and considering the role of heat in the transfer of the designs, this is a vital part that needs to be considered.
For the output to be great, the heat platen needs to be able to distribute heat consistently.
The platen is checked by moving one’s hand over it to feel the distribution of heat, but if you’re buying online, you certainly don’t have a means of doing that. In that case, you want to look at the reviews, specifically anything on the platen.
This is a factor we learned specifically from Sam. Of course, we’d heard about it before, but we didn’t know how serious it was until he told us his story.
When he was starting out, Sam burned dozens of his customers’ shirts and had to buy new ones for them. The problem of burning shirts was a frustrating one, and he nearly gave up on the business, but he later learned that it had everything to do with temperature control.
If you want a good time printing shirts and don’t want to deal with the losses presented by having to replace your customers’ shirts, go for a press with a digital timer.
At the same time, you also want to look at the time, and temperature ranges because pressing garments depends a lot on these two factors. Remember, each fabric has its own appropriate pressing time and temperature.
Don’t go for something whose pressure knobs are poor in quality, but rather look for well-designed pressure knobs that help you make adjustments effortlessly.
If you want to save your back from the aches and stress that comes from having to bend continuously, you could even go for a press with digital pressure controls.
Finally, we have the attachments. These days, they’re manufacturing heat transfer machines for printing not just t-shirts but also mugs, caps, tiles, and other items.
Whether you’re getting your press for business or personal use, we believe that you will find a machine with such attachments most useful. It might be a bit more expensive than the traditional version that prints just t-shirts, but it’s worth it.
How To Clean a Heat Transfer Machine
No matter how robust your heat press is, the long it serves you will always depend on how you keep it, as in the maintenance. One of the most important maintenance procedures is cleaning, and that’s what we’ll discuss in this section.
If you take a look at the top platen, you might see letters or numbers burnt into it, and these are the major things to focus on.
Items you’ll need for cleaning:
Depending on the type of press you have, follow one of the procedures below.
Procedure 1: for presses with a Teflon-coated platen
In case your machine isn’t suited for that procedure, try this one:
Whatever procedure you’ve used, carry on with the cleaning exercise as follows:
Procedure 2: for presses whose platen isn’t Teflon-coated
What is the Top Rated heat press machine Brands on The Market
We believe in scrutinizing each product before purchase irrespective of the brand.
But, we also we also appreciate there are those of you who love to shop by brand, and that’s okay, especially when you don’t have the time to speculate each product’s features and quality.
So, here are the top heat press machine brands on the market.
Fancierstudio is all about quality and affordability, and their products will suit any user out there.
This California-based company makes it possible for people with the tightest budget to start their heat press business by offering them the machine at some of the lowest prices.
Fancierstudio is not really a manufacturer; it’s actually a brand that imports products directly and brands them before selling them. Happy customers have cited the brand’s awesome customer care team, and we believe you will find it helpful too if you ever encounter problems with your machine.
Founded in 2007, Vevor has come to be one of the leaders in printing supplies. This company specializes in flash dryers, screen printing equipment, cutter plotters, and heat presses.
Vevor is headquartered in the US and has offices in other parts of the world, including Los Angeles, Sydney, and Portsmouth. Presently, the brand has thousands of products and over a hundred employees. So, as you can see, it’s a pretty huge deal.
As a market-oriented firm that operates based on the customer, Vevor is a brand you can trust to provide you with a good heat press.
Mophorn is a China-based brand. Before you say Chinese brands are whack, take it from us that this brand is different. We talked to a few people who own the Mophorn heat press and did some research on its online reviews and discovered the machine is actually really cool.
We don’t know about their other products, but at least we can safely argue that the brand's heat presses are good quality. Moreover, they’re inexpensive so you might want to check them out.
Zeny Products, which is also called Apple Tree International Corp, is a company that was founded back in 2009. It stocks and sells a wide range of products including home appliance, toys, heat presses, furniture, and musical equipment.
This brand majorly focuses on the online market and sells their products through outlets like Amazon and eBay.
Zeny is yet another brand doesn’t actually manufacture items, but by working directly with the producers, they’re able to provide you with quality products at a discount.
Different Types of Heat Press
We didn’t talk about this in the buying guide, and that’s because we needed a full section just for it. The type of heat press you get will define the ease of use, the price, and the efficiency of the machine, so this is a major factor to think about before buying.
The main types of heat press available on the market are:
Clamshell heat transfer machine
Clamshell machines are hinged on one side, between the top and bottom platens, from which they open and close, just like laptops. This a popular design, perhaps because it’s inexpensive and at the same time very efficient on different surfaces.
With a clamshell heat transfer machine, you can design many different items including shirts, mugs, plates, and t-shirts.
There are both manual and automatic options for this machine, and of course, there are other amazing attributes like the easy storage and portability.
Reasons to go for it:
The swinger, otherwise known as the swing-away heat transfer machine, is designed such that the top platen rotates away from the bottom one.
This design allows easy manipulation of the materials and drastically lowers the risk of getting burned. Thus, if ease of use is your number one factor, then the swinger will be your ideal pick.
Unlike other kinds of presses, the swing-away press works on all sorts of items irrespective of their thickness. It’s the kind of press you use for tiles and other thick substrates when you want the results to be great.
In most cases, the other kinds of presses, like clamshell, are compatible with press attachments for mugs, caps, and other substrates but they don’t come with these attachments. Want a machine that comes with these attachments, so you don’t have to look for them separately? Consider getting a swinger.
Unfortunately for those of you with limited space, the swinger is not very space efficient. It’s typically a large tool that consumes space. But if you have space, this machine is a great choice.
Reason to get it:
Draw Heat Transfer Machine
Just as the name suggests, the draw press’s bottom platen pulls out like a drawer, and that way, it gives you absolute access and control over the workspace.
With the draw press, you don’t have to go through the pain of having to reach under the heating element to make adjustments to the substrate. Just take care when pushing the drawer back not to kick the substrate out of alignment.
Reasons to get it:
When you’re looking for splendid results, the sublimation press is the type to use. It makes it easy to transfer high-grade digital designs to fabrics while preventing the transfer paper dye from staining the fabrics.
Apart from that, this type of press normally has a huge surface, making it possible to transfer designs onto large substrates.
Reasons to get it:
How to Use It: Step by Step Guide
When you want to transfer your artwork to garments or other surfaces, you have the option of using either an iron or a heat press. A heat press obviously offers you better results and allows you to work faster, but it’s to be noted that the output depends on the operator’s skill.
So, therefore, in this section, we’re going to look at how to use the heat transfer machine correctly.
Stage I: Preparation
Step 1 – Select the transfer
There’s a variety of transfers for you to choose from, including ink-jet transfers, laser transfers, embroidered appliqués, die-cut vinyl, and so on. The correct transfer depends on the fabric you’re printing and the desired quality of the results. Here’s a quick guide:
Step 2 – printing and trimming the transfer
If you’re using colored vinyl, there’s no need to print anything, but if you’re using transfer paper, you’ll obviously have to print the design on it. And remember, the image is first mirrored and then printed to come out in the correct orientation.
Ensure that you use the right printer, so that if you’re using inkjet transfer paper, you print using an inkjet printer, and so on. Also, make certain that the image goes to the film side of the transfer paper.
And if you’re using vinyl, cut out the shapes as you’d want them to appear on the fabric.
Remember to trim the design so that the blank parts don’t appear on the finished product. If for instance, there’s an O, the inner part needs to go. It’s okay to leave a small border.
Stage II – Heat Press Set Up
Step 1 – Open it and adjust the temperature
Your machine might be slightly different, so this part might be a little different in your case. Anyway, connect the power and switch on the machine before lifting the handle to expose the silicone pad.
Your transfer paper contains the instructions on the right temperature so check that and adjust the machine accordingly. Some presses have knobs, and others have buttons so use the applicable feature to set the desired heat level.
Once the press is hot enough, a light signal should go off. Most of the time, the required temperature is between 350 and 375 °F. Be sure to rotate the knob anticlockwise till the light goes off.
Step 2 – Set the pressure and the time
Use the knob or the right buttons to set the right pressure. The thicker the project you’re working on, the lower the pressure needed, but most times, medium to high pressure is applicable.
Press the time buttons for the minutes and seconds, each at a time, to set the time. The buttons are often marked with up and down arrows, for increasing and reducing the time respectively.
Each transfer paper has its recommended timeframe for pressing so check yours. Here’s a summary of the time recommendations:
Stage III – The Press
Step 1 – Place the garment
Place the fabric on the plate, ensuring the side that’s to be printed faces up.
Step 2 – Place the transfer
Place the transfer on the fabric, with the side that contains the design facing down. The fabric and the transfer paper should be aligned such that the design will go to the part of the fabric you want to print without mistakes.
In case you’re using an embroidered appliqué containing an adhesive, the side containing the adhesive should face down. As for HTV, the shiny side should face up, and the matte one should face down.
Step 3 – Cover the transfer
This step will be necessary or unnecessary depending on the kind of press you’re using. If yours has a protective covering on the heating element, like a silicone pad or Teflon sheet, there’s no need to cover the project.
But if it doesn’t have some form of heat protection, you will want to lay a Teflon sheet or thin cloth on the project as protection.
Step 4 – Close it and start the press
Close the machine by pulling down the handle. After that, push the start button to begin the press. The timer will start as well and when the set time is depleted, a signal, visual or audio, will go off. Press the start button again when the signal goes off to stop the press.
Step 5 – Remove the fabric
Open the machine and take out the fabric. Depending on the specifications on the transfer paper, you might have to peel it hot or cold.
In case you want to transfer artwork to the other side of the garment as well, place cardboard in between and use the same procedure to make the transfer. This time, you’ll need to use less pressure to avoid reheating the first design.
Work on your other projects using the same procedure.
T-Shirt Printing Machine Take Care and Maintenance Tips for Longevity
One of the best ways of maintaining your heat press and ensuring it stays in good shape to offer you an excellent service is to clean it regularly.
Since we have already looked at how to clean the heat press, we will look at the other aspects of maintaining the machine.
The Heating Element
What the heating element needs, mainly, is cleaning. After printing, ink might be left on the heating element, and this needs to be removed.
Put on some heat-protection gloves and wipe off the ink with a towel while the element is still hot because that’s when the ink will come off efficiently. While doing this, be very careful not to get burned.
After wiping off the ink and other dirt, switch off the machine and let it cool down before using some water and mild detergent to clean the element properly.
The Pneumatic Press
Got an air-operated press? You got to ensure that moisture doesn’t get in through the airlines. You can use a water trap every time the air is going in to prevent the entry of moisture.
The problem of moisture getting into the machine is that it can damage the internal parts.
The moving parts
These need lubrication.
Use high-temp lithium-based grease to lubricate your press’s moving parts at least twice per year. The hinge points and the pivot spot of the rod are some of the places that need to be lubricated if the machine is to work properly for a long time.
Don’t use too much lubricant to avoid staining your projects. You could even use a grease gun for precise lubing.
The Lower Rubber Pad
The lower rubber pad features high-temp silicone rubber that makes it wear. As a result, there might be low spots at the center or the edges, causing poor pressing results.
To know whether this part of your machine has worn, just place paper strips on the pad’s edges and shut the platen before attempting to pull the strips out.
If you’re able to pull them out effortlessly, it denotes the pads has undergone wear and hence the pressure is not enough or consistence. In this case, the best thing to do is to buy a new pad. Fortunately, the pad doesn’t cost much and replacing it is relatively easy.
Different Uses of The Heat Press
Did you know that the heat printing machine is a pretty versatile machine? Sam told us about some of the projects he undertakes with this handy appliance, and we’ll share them with you. Here you go:
You can print a special ink on a transfer paper and then transfer the design to a different surface. This is called dye sublimation.
With a heat press, you can use heat and pressure to transfer printed designs to polyester or poly-coated substrates.
Plastisol transfers in place of Screen printing
Screen printing is a great way to decorate your garments, with fantastic results. However, this method has high set-up costs, not to mention the difficult and long learning curve.
If you want to enjoy the results of screen printing without having to endure its troubles, you can make plastisol transfers using a heat press.
Vinyl is the common item that designers use to place numbers and names on sport team jerseys. This vinyl is placed on garments using a heat press, and it’s a pretty easy and inexpensive means of decorating surfaces.
If you love the shine and sparkle that comes with bling, you should definitely try rhinestone transfers.
These are some of the uses of the heat press or rather the projects you can do with this machine. Do a little more research on each on them (there are numerous how-to posts and videos on the internet), and hopefully, you’ll expand the scope of your business or DIY crafts.
Common Heat Transfer Machine Troubleshooting
You just purchased a t shirt heat press and are really excited to create designs with it, but while using the appliance, you run into some pretty frustrating issues. Then you start wondering whether there’s something wrong with the machine or if there’s something you’re doing wrong.
Now, we’re going to explore a few heat press machine issues and solutions, and we hope they’ll be helpful.
There are three heat press factors that affect the consistency of the results – the time, temperature, and pressure settings. So, start by checking the temperature and the time, and ensure that they’re congruent with the recommendations of the transfer paper and the sort of fabric you’re printing.
The design just isn’t sticking
There are several factors that can lead to this scenario, including wrinkles, moisture, insufficient pressure, and using the wrong temperature or time setting. Here are some fixes:
Ink soaking through to the back of the fabric
This problem comes as a result of excessive pressure. To solve it, just check the pressure requirements for the fabric or the transfer paper and reduce the pressure setting appropriately. Something else you can do is place a thin piece of cardboard or Teflon sheet between the front and back layers of the garment.
The fabric becoming discolored
There are two major reasons why this can be the case. Firstly, the heat platen or silicone pad is dirty. In this case, what you got to do is clean the surfaces of the machine that come into contact with the fabric. See the part on cleaning and the one on maintenance tips for the nitty-gritty of this matter.
The second reason could be the extreme temperature. In this case, just reduce the heat setting according to the sort of fabric you’re printing.
Another thing you can do about discoloration is to ensure that the ink you’re using is compatible with the fabric.
This problem is a lot like the one where the design isn’t sticking, and its most probable cause is the temperature being too low. Try increasing the temperature by 10 degrees but if the design still peels, increase the pressure slightly as well.
Why Should You Use a Heat Press Machine for Your T-Shirt Printing Business?
Before you even get a heat press, it’d be good first to understand what it is and what it does.
We know we’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again – a heat press is a machine that uses heat, time, and pressure in a suitable combination to transfer designs from transfer papers (or press vinyl cut outs) onto substrates.
Whether you’re in the t shirt printing business or you’re a hobbyist of design crafts, a heat press is a machine you’d probably want to have. Why? Because heat presses are:
Many designers, both professional and DIY, agree that a heat press is a must-have.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What can I use a heat press for?
A heat press is mainly used for transferring designs onto fabrics using a suitable combination of heat, pressure, and time. However, there are heat presses that help you imprint artwork on other items, including caps, plates, jigsaw puzzles, tiles, and more.
Do I really need a t shirt press machine?
A t shirt press is a really cool investment, but of course, that will depend on your situation. If you’re a designer or a DIYer, you might want to invest in one. With a heat press, you’ll be able to design your garments (or those of your customers) and various other items economically and without much effort.
How does a t shirt printing machine work?
First off, the work of a heat press is to transfer designs like images or letters onto substrates, which may be fabrics, plastics, ceramics, and so forth. Usually, there are two platens, an upper one and a lower one.
You place the substrate on the lower platen then place the transfer paper on it before pressing it with the upper platen which heats the whole thing and applies the pressure needs to transfer the design.
Some machines have attachments for mugs, plates, and so on, and these use the same basic principle, except their shapes differ.
Can I use an iron instead of a shirt press machine?
Absolutely. If you can’t get a heat printing machine, you can just use the heat that an iron emits and apply pressure with your hand to make the transfers. There are, however, downsides to using an iron, the most important one being that you cannot really control the temperature and the pressure.
Keeping in mind that beautiful transfers depend on a precise combination of these factors, you’ll have a hard time producing good designs.
Are heat-transferred designs good quality?
Of course, they are, though not as good as screen printed designs. However, screen printing makes it hard to transfer designs with multiple colors because each color requires a different screen, and preparing these screens is not very easy.
So, if you’re transferring a complex, multi-colored design, it’d be better to use a heat press.
What should I look for when buying a t shirt printing machine?
Firstly, you want to consider the materials, because you don’t want to go for something that will break down easily. Steel will do if you want something long-lasting. Secondly, you want to consider the heat platen.
Ensure it distributes heat evenly because if it doesn’t, that means you’ll have to deal with the problem of peels. Other important factors include the price, the attachments for printing other items apart from fabrics, digital control features, and the size.
Some of these qualities might be hard to observe, and that’s where online reviews come into play. This site offers you honest info based on research, and you also have amazon reviews to guide you.
How do I know when my heat printing machine isn’t exerting uniform pressure?
Just place equal paper strips at each of the four corners of the bottom platen and lock them with the upper platen. After that, try pulling the paper strips out one by one. If some strips come out more easily than others, then you know the pressure isn’t uniform across the platen, probably because the pads are worn. In that case, you can just replace the pads.
Which one is best? A drawer press, a clam press, or a swinger?
It depends on your needs. Do you need the one uses the least amount of space, the one that makes it super easy to lay the garments or the safest one with regards to burns?
If you want the safest one, go for a swinger, because it totally gets the heating platen away, allowing you to position your garments safely. This one also makes it very easy to lay the substrates.
Someone who needs the most space efficient machine will go for the clam style. For the sake of safety, go for one with a wide opening angle.
A drawer is best for the ease of laying the substrates, but like the swinger, it’s not very space-efficient.
What amount of space do I need for a shirt press machine?
First of all, it’s best to operate a heat press from a counter, unless you’re okay with bending and straining your back.
Drawer and clamshell style presses require at least 2 ft. of counter space while swingers require at least 3 ft.
Apart from that, give thought to the space you will need next to the machine for placing the substrates before and after printing.
How do I take care of my press and ensure it lasts long?
Like any other appliance, a heat press needs protection from dust and dirt, and the moving parts, especially the hinges, need regular lubrication. After every press, use a towel or soft bristle brush to clean any dirt off the platens.
If you asked any serious designer out there who specializes in transferring artwork to garments, they’d tell you that a heat press is a must-have. That’s why we’d encourage you to head over to Amazon and get the machine that fits you best.
We hope that after going through our heat press machine reviews, you found one or two that you liked. We also hope that our buying guide came (and still comes) in helpful for choosing the best heat press machine that fits your needs perfectly.
Have fun using your chosen heat transfer machine!