Heat press machines allow users to heat transfer custom designs to different substrates including hats, T-shirts, mugs, pillows and more. Although many hobbyists use an ordinary household iron for small projects, an iron can’t always deliver the best results. Heat press machines, on the other hand, supply an even high temperature surface over the entire work piece. They also have built in timers and adjustable heat settings, so you can use them on a wide range of heat transfers to achieve more professional results.
Not long ago, heat press machines were used only in commercial settings. However, with the increase in home die cutting machines, these machines are now available for home and small business use. When choosing a heat press machine, consider these variables: the available printing area, the type of application and materials, temperature range, and manual versus automatic.
Keep reading to learn more about how to choose the best heat press machine for your crafty endeavors.
Best Craft for Home: EasyPress 3
Best for Small Projects: EasyPress Mini
Best for Beginner: CraftPro Basic HP380
Best for Hats: Semi auto Cap Press CP2815-2
Best for Mugs: Craft One Touch MP170
Best for Tumblers: CraftPro Tumbler Press MP150-2
Best Multi purpose: Elite Combo Press 8IN1-4
Best for T shirts: Electric Heat Press B2-N
Best for Business: Twin Platens Electric Heat Press B2-2N ProMax
How We Chose the Best Heat Press Machines
After exploring dozens of heat press machine options, we considered several criteria before choosing our picks. The top models are made well and designed to apply HTV or sublimation ink effectively and efficiently. We based our choices on brand reputation as well as each machine’s durability, performance, and price.
Our Top Picks
With so many options on the market, choosing the best heat press can be a challenge. To help with the selection process, the following list features some of the best recommendations for heat presses in an array of types and sizes at various price points.
Types of Heat Press Machines
Heat press machines look somewhat similar; however, they have unique features that allow them to complete a specific task. Before purchasing a machine, consider the different types of heat press machines available. The basic types of heat press machines based on their features and specialty follow.
Clamshell (CraftPro Basic Heat Press HP380)
A clamshell heat transfer machine has a hinge between its upper and lower plates that open and close like a clam. Because it’s easy to operate and takes up only a small footprint, this design style is popular among both beginners and professionals. It’s ideal for printing designs on thin, flat surfaces like T shirts, tote bags, and sweatshirts. However, the clamshell style is not suitable for transferring designs on thick materials because it can’t distribute the pressure evenly over the plate’s surface.
Swing Away (Swing-away Pro Heat Press HP3805N)
These machines, also known as “swingers,” allow the top of the machine to swing away from the bottom platen to allow for better positioning of the item. Unlike the clamshell press, the swing away press works on thicker materials, such as ceramic tiles, hats, and mugs. However, this style takes up more space.
Drawer (Auto-open & Drawer Heat Press HP3804D-F)
On draw or drawer heat press machines, a lower platen pulls out toward the user like a drawer to allow for laying out the garment and viewing the entire space. These machines not only enable the user to quickly fix or reposition garments and graphics before the transfer process, it also provides more room to lay out the garment. However, the machine consumes more floor space and is more expensive than clamshell and swing style heat transferring.
Portable (Portable Heat Press Mini HP230N-2)
Portable heat press machines are ideal for crafters interested in experimenting and personalizing garments without making a significant investment. These lightweight machines are designed for small scale heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and dye sublimation transfer onto T shirts, tote bags, etc. It’s more difficult to apply even pressure with a portable machine, but it’s an affordable, quick way to start in heat press transfers.
Speciality and Multipurpose (Multi-purpose Pro Heat Press 8IN1-4)
Specialty and multipurpose heat press machines allow the user to add custom designs to hats, cups, and other non flat surfaces. Machines for mugs and caps are designed for one single purpose, such as a custom mug or hat business. However, multipurpose machines typically have attachments that can be swapped out to handle non flat items.
Semi-automatic (Semi-auto Heat Press MATE450 Pro)
Semi automatic heat press machines are the most popular style of heat press machine, and they require the operator to set the pressure and manually close the press. This type of press offers ease of use without the cost of a pneumatic press.
Pneumatic (Dual Station Pneumatic Heat Press B1-2N)
Pneumatic heat press machines utilize a compressor to automatically apply the correct amount of pressure and time. This type of heat press is often more expensive, but it offers greater precision and consistency in terms of results. Additionally, pneumatic heat presses can be used with a wider range of materials, making them an ideal choice for various applications.
Electric (Dual Station Electric Heat Press B2-2N)
Electric heat press machines utilize a electric motor to automatically apply the correct amount of pressure and time. This type of heat press is often more expensive, but it offers greater precision and consistency in terms of results. Moreover electric heat press does not need a air compressor, so overall the budget is equal to a pneumatic heat press plus a air compressor. Additionally, electric heat presses can be used with a wider range of materials, making them and ideal choice for various application.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Heat Press Machine
A heat press machine is a commercial grade iron that applies heat and pressure to a garment to affix a design. Choosing the best heat press machine depends on the material. Also consider budget, portability, and efficiency. Whether looking to start a custom T shirt or mug business or just a new craft, the right heat press machine is available.
Sublimation vs. Two Step Transfer
The two types of transfer processes are:
Two step transfers first print on heat transfer paper or vinyl. Then, the heat press machine transfers the design onto the chosen material.
Sublimation transfer involves printing the design either with sublimation ink or onto sublimation paper. When the ink is heated with a heat press, it turns into a gas that embeds itself into the substrate.
Application and Materials Pressed
Although a heat press machine can be used with various transfer applications, a specialty machine designed for specific purposes delivers more consistent results. Clamshell, swing away, and draw machines are best suited for printing on flat surfaces, such as T shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, etc. Multifunctional/multipurpose machines, on the other hand, have attachments that allow transfers to non-flat items. If the machine’s primary use is to make custom mugs, for example, a specialty heat press machine designed for that purpose is the best option.
Also consider the type of material. A sublimation machine is a good investment to apply intricate designs on items. Thicker materials with textured surfaces need a swing away or draw machine because this type can apply even pressure across the material’s surface. Clamshell machines work well for T shirts and sweatshirts.
A heat press machine’s platen size determines the size of the design. A larger platen provides greater flexibility. Standard platen size for flat items is between 15 by 15 inches to 16 by 20 inches.
Custom platens are available in different shapes and sizes to transfer designs on shoes, bags, cap bills, and more. These platens are used for specialty or multipurpose machines and range in size and shape, depending on the machine.
Accurate temperature is key to a durable heat transfer application. When considering a heat press machine, note the type of temperature gauge it has and its maximum temperature. Some applications require heat of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
A quality heat press has heating elements evenly spaced no more than 2 inches apart to ensure even heating. Thinner platens are less expensive but lose heat much more quickly than thicker platens. Look for machines with, at minimum, ¾ inch thick platens. Although thicker platens take longer to heat, they hold temperature better.
Manual vs. Automatic
Heat presses come in both manual and automatic models. Manual versions require physical force to open and close the press, while an automatic press uses a timer function to open and close. Semi automatic models, a hybrid of the two, also are available.
Automatic and semi automatic models are better suited for high production environments because they require less physical force, thus causing less fatigue. However, they are more expensive than manual units.
How to Create a Quality Print With Your Heat Press
Picking the right heat press depends on the type of items it’s intended to customize, the size of the surface area, and the frequency with which it will be used. The best quality heat press machine has the ability to heat evenly and apply consistent pressure across the transfer, as well as built in safety features. On any heat press machine, making a quality print requires the same steps.
Choose the right heat transfer paper to match the heat setting on the press.
Use quality ink, and remember that sublimation transfer requires sublimation ink.
Set the heat press controls.
Lay out the item to be pressed, eliminating creases and wrinkles.
Position the transfer on the item.
Close the heat press.
Use the correct amount of time.
Open, and remove the transfer paper.
Choosing the best heat press machines for home or small business use is complicated, so some questions may remain. Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about heat press machines below.
Q. What does heat transfer mean?
Heat transfer printing is also known as digital transfer. The process involves printing a custom logo or design onto transfer paper and thermally transferring it to a substrate using heat and pressure.
Q. What can I make with a heat press machine?
A heat press machine allows the user to customize T shirts, mugs, hats, tote bags, mouse pads, or any material that fits the heat machine’s plates.
Q. Is a heat press a good investment?
A heat press is a good investment for those who plan to customize many objects. For hobbyists, it may be wise to invest in a smaller heat press, such as the EasyPress 2 or EasyPress Mini, before moving on to a commercial grade press.
Q. How do I set up a heat press machine?
Most heat presses are plug in and go. Many have user friendly digital displays that make it easy to get started.
Q. Do I need a computer for a heat press machine?
Although a computer is not necessary for a heat press, using one makes it easier to create custom designs and print them on heat transfer paper.
Q. What shouldn’t I do with my heat press machine?
Do not use your heat press machine for anything other than heat transfer applications.
Q. How do I maintain my heat press machine?
Maintenance for heat press machines varies depending on the machine. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and care.
Quality printing equipment & Garment Films
When it comes to printing, a heat press is a great option for businesses of all sizes. This type of machine is versatile and efficient, but it also produces high-quality prints that are resistant to fading and wear. In addition, a heat press is a cost-effective way to produce prints, as it eliminates the need for costly printing equipment and supplies. At Xheatpress.com, we have a wide selection of machines and equipment. From pneumatic to semi-automatic and electric heat presses, we have your printing needs covered.
Post time: Nov-22-2022