Whether you need a heat press machine for business or hobby purposes, getting a 15x15 press can be a great start. These machines are very versatile – they are small enough to move around but not so small that you can’t use them to press items like t-shirts and large jerseys.
Swing away heat presses: Better for high volume production
Clam shell presses: Less expensive but lower precision.
There are a lot of great options on the market, so choosing the right 15x15 swing-away or clam shell heat press for your needs can be challenging. To help you make your choice, we came up with this buying guide that highlights the most important things to look for in these presses.
This press is a great entry-level press for someone starting a new business venture or the hobbyist. It is the lowest priced swing-away 15x15 press that we offer. It is well built and is easy to operate. View the product here.
HixThe Hix Swingman 15 is a great upgraded pick for a higher volume shop. If this isn't your first heat press we recommend this choice. View the Swingman 15 press here.
This heat press is used for large volume factories and shops that need to ensure quality over a high run. This press can be purchased at a price of $3,750. Learn more about this press here.
Swing Away Vs. Clam Shell Heat Press
If you’ve decided to go for a swing away press, chances are you’re already familiar with the key differences between this and other types of heat presses. However, many people are not fully aware of the key advantages of these two types, so we need to go over them before we can continue.
Swing away heat press
The biggest advantage of this press is that its top plate rotates 360 degrees, so it can be easily moved out of the way. This gives you a lot of space to work with without putting yourself at risk of injury. But, these presses typically require more clearance room and feel less sturdy because of the swing mechanism.
These two are the most popular types, although you can also find the draw style heat press. Unlike the clam shell and the swing away (where the top plate swivels), these presses have a movable working surface.
Clam shell heat pressThis press has top and bottom plates that open and close like a jaw or a clam shell. The biggest advantages of these presses are that they don’t take up a lot of space (since they’re built up) and they feel sturdier. However, many people find them hard to work around, as the top plate can block your sight and cause injury.
You can view all our clamshell heat press machines here.
Manual or Automatic
Another important feature that can make a world of difference is whether or not the press is automatic. In a manual press you will find plenty of buttons and knobs that help you set the pressure and temperature. Some of them may have a timer as well.
On the other hand, automatic presses take care of key aspects of the process. With these presses you can program the exact temperature and timing so you get a perfect print every time. Automatic presses (also called digital presses) can typically achieve higher pressure compared to the manual ones.
There are also the auto-release presses, but these come only in the clam shell style.
Business or Hobby
The key question you need to ask yourself before getting a swing away heat press is what purpose you will need it for. There is no point in buying a large industrial heat press if you intend to use it a couple of times a day. On the other hand, if you need a heat press for commercial purposes, jumping on a low-cost press may not be a good idea.
Looking for a cheap heat press machine for you home or small business? Check out our guide here.
Think about your goals and choose the right heat press for you. If you’re just getting into the industry and you’re looking for an affordable option, the 15x15 swing away from Rincons may be a good choice. It is affordable, easy to use, and capable of surprisingly high amounts of pressure at this price range.
Different Types of Transfer
Different types of printing media and transfers require different pressures and temperatures. Do your research and talk to suppliers so you can better understand all the various types of transfer. This will help you make a decision on which transfer medium type you’d like to work with.
For example, inkjet & laser transfers are a good short-term solution for simple apparel applications (family reunion t-shirts and such), but they are not very durable. On the other hand, sublimation transfers can also be used for non-apparel items, but they are only good on light surfaces.
What Material Will You Use?
Another very important question that should guide you through the process of buying the best swing away heat press is what material you need it for. If you’re looking for a press that will allow you to print on t-shirts, mugs, hats, etc., you should go for more versatile options. There are many 5-in-1 machines that come with multiple plates for use with various surfaces. To learn more about these machines see our list of the best heat presses.
On the other hand, if you need a heat press only for flat objects like t-shirts, you will be better off with presses that have just a heat platen. However, that’s not to say that all of these presses are simple and entry-level options. For example, the Insta 15x15 model 718 has interchangeable platens that allow for great printing versatility. These platens allow you to print on pant legs, sleeves, and other small surfaces.
As swing away presses are typically less durable than clam shell, you need to pay extra attention to the durability of the press you’re looking to buy. When browsing in the shop, grab the model you’re interested in by the handle and move it back and forth a couple of times. If it doesn’t move smoothly and feels shaky, that’s probably not a good sign.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but the more money you’re willing to spend, the more durable press you’ll be able to get. Most entry-level presses aren’t built to print a larger volume of transfers. So, if you already know you’ll be using the press for commercial purposes, durability should be at the top of your priority list.
Another good way to tell if a press is durable is by looking at its weight. Typically a sturdy, durable press will be heavier because of the materials used in its construction.
An aspect that often gets overlooked, the temperature range is easily one of the most important things you should take into consideration when buying a heat press. Again, if you’re only looking for a simple home press, you can go with the ones with lower temperatures.
However, if you’re buying a press for business purposes you will soon find that a press with lower temperature range is limiting in many ways. This will especially be the case if you want to separate yourself from the competition with more advanced printing options.
Around 350 degrees Fahrenheit will be enough if you’re printing on t-shirts. But, if you’re working with thicker garments like sweatshirts and hoodies you will likely need a press with a higher temperature range.
Lastly, like with many other products, your budget limitations will significantly affect your buying options. The good old saying of “you get what you pay for” applies to heat presses as well. So, if you’re in the market for a commercial press, you should expect to find a great press at above two thousand dollars. These presses are made to print large volumes at high temperatures.
People who are looking for an entry-level press for home use have a much harder task. How do you get an affordable heat press without sacrificing too much quality? A good rule of thumb would be to set your basic printing needs along with your budget limit. Then you can go for a heat press that meets both your budget and your basic needs.
For example, the HIX SwingMan 15 is a great affordable option that doesn’t disappoint with its performance. It can even go up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is impressive for presses of its size and price range.
8 Best 15x15 Heat Presses
In our offer, you will find 15x15 heat presses from different manufacturers, ranging from beginner to commercial models. And, while some of these are swing away and some are clam shell, all of them are perfect for pressing medium-sized details on a variety of garments.
Here are some 15x15 swing away heat presses you can find in our catalog.
1. Insta 718 Auto [Swing Away]
One of the most durable and reliable heat presses on the market, the Insta 718 can withstand tremendous work volumes. It has a changeable lower platen, so you can easily print on sleeves, pockets, pant legs, etc. It’s made from cast aluminum, which is considered an industry standard when it comes to durability.
This Insta Graphic heat press is widely used by top apparel brands because of its even pressure, accurate temperature, and the ability to produce consistent results even when used for a long period. This machine is a serious investment for professionals who are serious about their business.
2. Rincons AP-SW15 [Swing Away]
The AP5-SW15 shares many features with the AP5-15, only it’s a swing away model, which makes it safer. The downside is that it does take up plenty of space. Like our previous two models, it can go over 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a removable and reversible silicon pad, as well as a non-stick Teflon element that prevents the transfers from sticking and scorching.
3. HIX Swingman 15 [Swing Away]
One of the most reliable swing-away heat presses you can find, the Swingman 15 from HIX offers great performance at a reasonable price. It has a sturdy steel frame and the top heat plate moves smoothly. You can press items that are up to 1.75″ thick, which allows for great versatility, as you can print on thick tiles and plaques. You also get a lifetime warranty on the heating element.
Here are some 15x15 calm shell heat presses you can find in our catalog.
4. Rincons AP4-15 LCD [Clam Shell]
This heat press saves a lot of space with its clam shell design and offers a lot of interesting features for its price. Its maximum temperature is over 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and it has a digital timer that can be set from one to 999 seconds. Its ease of use and budget-friendly price make it a perfect choice for hobbyists and people who aren’t yet willing to invest a lot of money in their heat press. This is a great choice from Rincons.
5. Rincons AP5-15 Auto Open [Clam Shell]
Another clam shell heat press from our catalog, the Rincons AP5-15 is similar to the AP4-15, but it adds several advanced features that make it more attractive. One of these is the auto open feature that allows you to step away from the press while the garments are being printed. Once the countdown reaches zero, the heat press will automatically open, preventing you from overheating your transfer.
6. HIX HT-400 [Clam Shell]
This heat press has been dubbed “the workhorse” by the graphics industry, and for a good reason. It features a rugged, durable design made to serve you for years to come. It has a touch-screen controller that allows you to set the timer up to 999 seconds and program your temperature-time combinations into the machine. You also have different pressure settings that range from light to heavy. The HT-400 is perfect for startups and small businesses. It does come at a higher price than our previous models, but it’s well worth the money.
7. HIX S-450 [Clam Shell]
The S-450 from HIX allows for hands-free operation and has a handle with spring assist which makes it very easy to use. You can set the timer, close the lid, and wait for the press to finish transferring and open automatically. This heat press is an industry standard when it comes to auto release presses. It’s as durable as the HT-400 and offers similar features at a slightly higher price.
8. HIX N-680 Air Operated [Clam Shell]
With the N680 we’re entering the “serious” territory. This press is highly efficient, durable, and surprisingly easy to use. It opens automatically, so it saves you time and eliminates fatigue. It also has an air valve that allows for faster clamping, and it features bushings in important areas, which makes it even more durable. The N-680 is perfect for high-volume work, so consider it if you have hundreds of items to work on every day.
The Bottom Line
Although there are many great models on the market, buying the best 15x15 swing-away heat press to meet your needs doesn’t need to be a hard task. You just need to know what you’re looking for. You can view all our 15 x 15 heat presses here.
The best choice for your needs will largely depend on the materials you’ll be printing on and the volume you’ll be pushing each day. Swing away presses range from home presses that cost a couple hundreds of dollars to industrial presses that are further up the price range.
Keep these things in mind and make sure the press you have in mind is able to meet your printing expectations.