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The Best Heat Presses of 2018 [The Definitive Guide]

Looking for the perfect machine for your business? Or, maybe your Pinterest boards are littered with heat transfer press ideas you are dying to try?

Whatever the reason for needing one, buying a new heatpress transfer machine takes a lot of investment. And yes, the word “investment” should read “money”. So, as with anything you are planning on dropping a bunch of cash on, you need to do diligent research.

No worries! This guide will provide you the nitty-gritty of what, which, and how much you will need to spend to buy the machine of your dreams.

What Is a Heat Press?

First, let’s get the obvious question out of the way: what is a heat press?

Simply put, heat press machines transfer images via heat to different things.

Those “things” can be traditional t-shirts, mugs, or hats. Or, they may be specialized items like labels, plaques, and even mousepads.

printing on mugs

Generally, you can transfer an ink image to just about any type of fabric. And, you can also buy special machines or attachments. They can accommodate non-traditional surfaces like mugs or hats.

Who It’s For

Heat presses are used by anyone who needs images transferred onto surfaces. So, they may be used for home DIY projects. Or, in a business capacity.

There are many types of machines and price points to accommodate different needs. So, whether you sell your creations on Etsy. Or, need a new machine for your printing business. There is a machine that’s just right for you.

Why You Need One

Maybe you like to customize your clothing? Make it unique to your personal style?

Or, maybe your company hosts events that need special commemorative merchandise?

Perhaps, you want to open a t-shirt printing business?

There are many different reasons why you may need this machine. Luckily, there are also different types of machines to accommodate those needs.

They may range in size and scope. Some are relatively small and portable. While others are stationary workhorses.

How Do You Use a Heat Press?

If you are new to heat press transfer machines, you may be wondering how easy it is to use. The answer depends on your machine.

Generally, the steps are as follows:

  1. Turn on the machine
  2. Adjust the time and temperature
  3. Lay the material across the bottom platform
  4. Warm up the material for a few seconds
  5. Lay the fabric you want to be printed onto the platform, print face down
  6. Put transfer paper on top
  7. Bring the handle down and set the timer
  8. Lift the handle when the timer goes off
  9. Allow the print 24 hours to lock in

However, keep in mind that each machine may be different. So, always check with your enclosed manual first. But, heat press transfer machines are relatively easy to use.

How to Choose the Right One for You?

So, now you are ready to take the plunge. You want a heatpress transfer machine. So, how do you choose the perfect one for you?

Well, the best heat transfer machine for you depends on your own individual needs. Here are a few of the main considerations to think about.

Types of Heat Presses

In your research, you may encounter different types of heating presses. The two main types you will see are the clamshell and the swing-away heatpress transfer machine.

Both are considered flatbed heating presses. And, they are the most popular types on the market.

Clamshell vs. Swing-away

So, which do you need? Is a clamshell the best for your needs? Or, maybe you would rather invest in a swing-away?

The answer depends on different factors.

If you want extra workspace for your material, you may want to consider a swing-away. Swing-aways have an upper platen that can move for extra room to load the material. As you may expect, they need a little more space. Because the platen needs room for movement.

Here is a list of our favorite 15 x 15 swing away heat presses.

On the other hand, the clamshell has a stationary upper platen. You simply bring the upper portion down on top of the fabric to press.

When positioning your fabric, you lift the upper platen all the way up. This will give you full access to the bottom platform.

Clamshell heat transfer machines are generally less expensive. And, they have a small footprint because they don’t need extra space to swing the heating platen away.

However, it’s important to note that both clamshell and swing-away machines deliver the same performance.

For example, the Rincons 15" X 15" heat press is a clamshell design for less than $400. This machine is easy to use and is optimal for printing flat surfaces like sweatshirts, t-shirts, and mouse pads.

printing on sweatshirt

However, the clearance between the top plate and bottom is narrow. This may make it difficult to set up some of your t-shirt pieces correctly. And, you may also accidentally burn the tops of your hands because of this narrow space.

On the other hand, a swing-away heat press transfer machine like the Rincons AP-SW15 can print on surfaces such as tiles and wood as well as t-shirts. A swing-away gives you more space to set up your workspace because you can swing the top part away completely.

Bottom Line:

Both the clamshell and swing-away variants deliver similar results. So, your main decision is whether you want an inexpensive and compact machine that prints primarily flat surfaces. Or, if you want a bigger, more expensive machine that can accommodate other types of flat surfaces.

Manual vs. Automatic Release

Next, do you want a manual press or an automatic? What’s the difference?

The answer to this question depends on how often you plan on using the press.

With a manual press, you have to physically open the press. That may not sound like much of a hardship. Especially if you only plan on doing light heat transfer press work.

However, it may become stressful for heavy workloads. Particularly if workers are pulled away to do a different task. When that happens, they aren’t there to babysit the machine.

On the other hand, an automatic release opens up the press as soon as the timer goes off. This feature requires less work and babysitting.

But, keep in mind that automatic release presses are a bit more expensive than manual release. Also, there is more of a chance that the prints on automatic presses may shift when the top lifts. This is because auto release presses may not open as smoothly as manual.

Bottom Line:

If your workload is fairly light, you can probably go with a cheaper manual heatpress transfer machine. However, if you plan on doing large jobs you may want to consider an automatic release. Also, if your operator is divided in their duties and cannot babysit the machine, an automatic release may be more cost-effective for you.

Standard vs. Air

Another feature to think about is whether you want a standard or air-operated press. This decision will affect your wallet. And, how much physical labor you plan on investing.

A standard operated press utilizes shock absorbers, springs, and levers. Every movement of the press is made by a human. In other words, nothing is automatic.

This is not as horrible as it sounds. Especially for small specialty shops, because they usually function on a piece by piece basis. However, for larger orders, this may require too much physical labor.

One of the keys to using a standard heat transfer press correctly is making sure the workspace is ergonomically correct for the operator. That is a lot of repetitive movement.

So, being able to reach and move all the pieces smoothly and efficiently can greatly impact how you use the press.

On the other hand, if you anticipate heavy workloads you may want to look into an air-operated machine. These heat press machines work at the push of a button, with limited fiddling with gauges.

Additionally, air-operated presses can exert more pressure than their standard counterpart. This is due, in part, to the fact that it doesn’t rely on human strength.

Finally, before you run out to buy your air-operated press, keep in mind that they are expensive. And, they are noisy. So, unless you plan on putting one in your factory, you may want to consider a standard one instead.

If you want to take a look at an air-operated press, a good one to check out is the Geo Knight 16 x 20 inch DK20SP model. As mentioned before, this is not a cheap machine. But, it’s a good option if you need a powerful workhorse.

heat press

Bottom Line:

Similar to your decision for manual versus automatic, standard is a good, inexpensive choice if your workloads are relatively small. Especially if you plan on using it in a small shop or at home.

However, if you will be handling large workloads on a regular basis, an air-operated press may be the way to go. It is a workhorse. But, it’s also expensive.

Single vs. Multi-purpose

Next, think long and hard about this question: What do you plan on printing on?

This may seem like a no-brainer. But, what you plan on printing on is almost as important as how you plan on printing.

Are you going to be working exclusively with t-shirts and sweatshirts? Will you need to print on hats, too?

There are a couple of ways you can go about choosing the type of heat transfer press you need.

Best Heat Presses

First, you can choose a single purpose that can accept attachments. The attachment option gives you more flexibility to add other types of printing options after purchasing.

Or, you can buy a multi-purpose machine from the onset. A multi-purpose heatpress transfer machine allows you to print on non-flat material. This includes caps, mugs, and even plates.

Does that mean a multi-purpose can’t print flat fabric like t-shirts and mousepads? Absolutely it can! Most multi-purpose presses also have the two platens for printing flat, too.

However, most people choose to buy attachments like the Geo Knight DC16 attachment for cap printing. Buying separate attachments are usually a more economical option for many people. Also, it gives you the option of expanding your printing variety when you need it without having to buy a separate machine.

Bottom Line:

Most people opt for a single-purpose machine. They are great starter presses, especially if you know you are only printing flat surfaces at first.

On the other hand, if you are starting out printing special surfaces you may want to invest in a multi-purpose press from the beginning.

Practical Considerations: Value and Space

Finally, let’s go over how much your dream machine will cost, and where you will put it. Your budget may be the deciding factor when you can’t decide between two models. And, where it’s going to reside may also help you decide.

First, heat press machines run across a wide price range. While you may not find them at your local big box discount store, they can be relatively inexpensive. Especially those with the most basic features.

Remember, features like standard operation and clamshell release are more inexpensive. And, they are usually smaller, too.

Heat press machines can be as small as 6 x 6 inches. And, they are perfect for small workpiece like labels.

However, if you are more of a weekend hobbyist, you may be able to use the 9 x 12-inch format. This size may be enough to cover most projects, as well as many small shop orders.

The 15 x 15-inch heat press is the most common size sold for t-shirt printing.

If you need something bigger, you can go with a 16 x 20-inch press. Heating presses of this size may be able to handle most projects you throw at it. For both home and professional use.

For example, the HIX SwingMan 20E is a swing away version of this popular sized press.

Finally, if you will be printing banners and flags, you can pick up formats as large as 60 x 120-inch presses. But, keep in mind that machines this big are very expensive. The largest presses we carry today are 16 x 24 and 20 x 25 inches.

For machines this big, you can expect that it is air-operated. And, they take up a lot of power and are definitely not for home use.

Bottom Line:

Prioritizing your needs is one way to ensure you get the best heat transfer press your budget can afford. So, no need to buy an oversized machine if you don’t need one. Or, one with extra features that you aren’t going to use.

Buying Recap

Lastly, now that you are a little more familiar with heat press machines, here are the buying considerations again:

  • Clamshell or swing-away
  • Automatic or manual release
  • Standard or air-operated
  • Single or multi-use
  • Size
  • Budget

Taking these points into consideration, and then prioritizing, may ensure you find the best heat press machine for your needs.

The Best Heat Presses of 2018

So, now that you have thought about what you want from a heat press machine. It’s time to take a look at some of the best heat machines on the market.

Check out the highlights of the different heatpress transfer machine below. And, maybe you will find the perfect one for you.

Best T-Shirt Heat Press on a Budget: GEO KNIGHT 9" X 12" JETPRESS SWINGER JP12 HEAT PRESS

Overview

Do you have a limited budget? Or, perhaps you just want an inexpensive machine to start with? Geo Knight’s JP12 may be the solution for you. It is relatively small and inexpensive.

Geo Knight 9" x 12" JetPress Swinger JP12 Heat Press Transfer Machine

Main Highlights

9 x 12” plates

First, these are relatively small plates. You may be able to transfer 8 x 10 printer paper-sized images at the most.

However, this may be more than enough space for beginner printing jobs. Especially for most t-shirt needs.

Adjustable height up to 1” thick

Next, most of your printing jobs lay flat and thin. But, in case you want to print something thicker, the height is adjustable. That makes this little press a little more versatile than your typical budget heat transfer press.

Temperature gauge and adjustable temperature control

Temperature is everything when you transfer prints to fabric. But, this temperature is reliable and accurate.

And, both the countdown timer and temperature controls are digital. So, the controls are user-friendly, even for a newbie.

Minimal effort for clamping and locking pressure

Another component for great prints is pressure. Typically, if you use a hand iron you have to exert the pressure yourself.

However, this t shirt press can give hundreds of pounds of pressure and clamping force. And, it only takes a fraction of the time and effort from you.

Swing-away

Think you can’t get a swing-away without spending a lot of money? This budget press gives you the added workspace of moving the upper platen to the side. Without the added price tag.

Although you may need to make some extra space to accommodate the swing. But, this extra feature is worth it.

Lightweight and portable

Additionally, this t shirt heat press is relatively lightweight and portable. It’s perfect for hobbyists. As well as small businesses and home usage.

But, this little heat transfer press can’t handle a huge workload. So, as long as you only plan on light usage, this may be a great solution for you.

1-year warranty

Lastly, if this is your first heatpress transfer machine purchase, you want to buy with confidence. And, with a 1-year warranty included, you can. Rest assured knowing that if anything goes wrong, you’ll be covered.

Best Clamshell Heat Press: HIX 15" X 15" AIR OPERATED CLAMSHELL N-680 HEAT PRESS 

Overview

Do you have a high volume t-shirt shop? Are you working your heating press all day long?

You need a workhorse. And, the HIX N-680 may fit that bill.

HIX Air Operated Clamshell N-680 Heat Press Transfer Machine

Main Highlights

Air-operated

One of the most important features for high-volume workloads is air assist. The lift system and air valves are extra durable. And, they will save your operator from physical wear and tear.

Yes, no more aches in the arms and back trying to keep up with the workload. And, no more muscling your heat transfer press. Increase productivity, and decrease operator fatigue using this air-operated press.

Also, this model auto adjusts pressure according to your product. So, when you preset your pressure you can change up your material. Want to throw in a sweatshirt instead of a t-shirt? Your air-operated press will adjust automatically to apply the same pressure you wanted.

Automatic release

In addition, this press also has an automatic release. You don’t have time to babysit your machine. So, when the timer goes off, your machine opens up on its own. No more worries about burnt shirts.

Furthermore, you just want a quick press without waiting for the cycle? Press the pre-press release button to get those wrinkles out. And, press the button to open the machine back up.

Preset pressure settings

Next, check your current pressure on the touchscreen display. It will show your setting whenever the press is closed.

If you need to make any changes, the pressure dial has 9 settings. This is optimal if you are always changing out the material thickness.

Digital timer and temp settings, with touchscreen control

Lastly, your shop is really busy. And, you don’t have time to keep changing the temperature and time combinations to accommodate different materials.

This is when the preset combinations come in handy. From the touchscreen, pick out one of your programmed combos. And, make adjustments with ease.

Best Heat Press for Small Business: GEO KNIGHT 14” x 16” DC16AP HEAT PRESS MACHINE

Overview

If your business focus is printing and personalization, this may be a great option for you. The Geo Knight DC16AP model has all the bells and whistles of an intermediate to high-end machine.

Sure, it may be a bit on the pricey side. But, the features may be worth it.

Geo Knight DC16AP Multi Heat Press Machine

Main Highlights

Air-operated

First, this machine is air-operated. So, it is ideal for large, continuous workloads. The air-operation feature helps reduce operator fatigue.

Automatic

Additionally, this press also has an automatic release feature. So you can keep your printing rhythm without having to stop and open the machine after every press.

Multipurpose

Don’t want to be limited to t-shirt printing? With this multipurpose machine, you can also print non-standard objects as well.

These include mugs, jigsaw puzzles, and memo cubes. You can also print on various metals and wood.

Swing-away

Because this is a multipurpose heat press machine, it makes sense that it comes with a swing-away platen. Arrange your materials perfectly without worrying about potential burns.

Interchangeable platens and table

Next, you can change out platens and tables. It may not come with extras. But, the additional purchase may give you versatility that is not available from other machines on the market.

Temperature accuracy up to 2 degrees Fahrenheit

Also, the digital temperature is accurate up to 2 degrees. And, if the readout is not what you want you can also adjust it with the digital control.

70 presets, programmable

If you print different types of objects, you may need different temperature settings for each one. But, who has the time to constantly change settings?

This heat transfer press can program up to 70 presets. So, you can change your printing object settings as fast as you can press a button.

Numerous warranties

Lastly, this machine is an investment. But, it also comes with many warranties. So, you can purchase this press worry-free.

The heat platen has a lifetime warranty. While the digital control panel is covered for 3 years. Also, the entire press has an umbrella warranty of 1 year of coverage.

Best Heat Press for Home Use: HIX 9” x 12” SWINGMAN HL912 HEAT PRESS

Overview

Are your DIY projects piling up? Is it time to tackle your crafting to-do list? You need the best heat press for home use.

But, you don’t need a commercial-grade press. You just need one that delivers high-grade prints. But, is still small and economical to keep inside the house.

Check out the HIX HL912 model. You may find that it does everything you need to start on those projects.

HIX SwingMan HL912 Hobby Lite Heat Press Transfer Machine

Main Highlights

Swing-away

Need a safe way to arrange your print piece? The swing-away feature gives you a safe workspace. So, work with confidence knowing accidental burns won’t happen so easily.

Also, the swing-away feature allows for printing on material up to 1.75 inches thick. You can let your imagination go wild, without being tied to only t-shirt prints.

Full range temp control

Next, if you can work your oven temperature dial, you can set the temp on this heat transfer press. It also has full temperature range, up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. And, it can handle any project you throw at it.

Lightweight

Additionally, this is a very light heatpress transfer machine. Weighing in at only 19 pounds, you can transfer it from work table to storage closet with ease.

This lightweight and portability are ideal for those of you who have mobile retail setups. It takes up minimal space. And, you can easily bring it to a craft fair or flea market for your light printing needs.

Light indicator for heating

Finally, you don’t have to guess if the press is hot enough. Just set your temperature dial and wait for the light. It will let you know when the is ready for your transfer projects.

Best Heat Press Machine for Beginners: GEO KNIGHT 12” x 14” JETPRESS JP14 HEAT PRESS

Overview

If you are new to the heating press world, you need a simple machine. Geo Knight makes a great small heatpress machine for beginners. The JP14 model is user-friendly, simple, and economical.

And, it still has the feature you need to start transferring on a budget.

Geo Knight JetPress Swinger JP14 Heat Press Transfer Machine

Main Highlights

12 x 14-inch platen

First, unlike the other JetPress model featured in this article, this one has larger platens. So, it can accommodate bigger prints. While still staying within a strict budget.

Swing-away

Also, the upper platen swings away. This feature gives you a safe workspace. Without risking accidental burns to the tops of your hands.

It also lends additional thickness capabilities. You can adjust it for items over 1-inch thick.

Digital timer

Additionally, the JP14 model has a digital timer with an alarm. This feature makes the machine more user-friendly. And, is great for beginners.

Heating indicator light

Also, you will know exactly when your heatpress machine is ready for transfers. All you have to do is wait for the indicator to light up. So, you know that your machine will be at the optimum heat when you start your transfers.

Best Heat Press for T-Shirts: RICOMA IKONIX FLAT 16" X 24" CLAMSHELL HP-6040H HEAT PRESS 

Overview

What if the only thing you print is t-shirts? If your entire business revolves around t-shirt printing, you need a reliable workhorse. The Ricoma Ikonix HP-6040H may be the one for you.

Ricoma iKonix Flat Clamshell HP-6040H Heat Press Transfer Machine

Main Highlights

Use on flat materials

The clamshell design allows you to transfer to relatively flat, thin surfaces with ease. This includes t-shirts and sweatshirts. It may also include bags, mouse pads, license plates, and magnetic material.

However, you can only press things up to an inch thick. But, that’s enough clearance if you will only be printing t-shirts.

Temperature features

Next, the unit also has a thermometer, adjustable thermostat, and indicator light. The thermometer lets you know the platen temperature. And, the indicator eliminates guessing if your press is ready for the transfer.

Electronic time and temperature control

Finally, the electronic control makes this machine very user-friendly. You can check your timer on the electronic control. And, the same controls also ensure constant temperature. The accuracy for the temperature gauge is within around 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Best Heat Press for Commercial Use: INSTA 15" X 20" MODEL 728 HEAT PRESS 

Overview

Not everyone is looking for a light machine for a small business. Sometimes you need a workhorse. So, why not check out Insta’s Model 728?

The Model 728 is used in the fashion industry all over the world. And, there is a reason for that. It’s both durable and reliable, safeguarding your investment for years to come. Insta has earned a reputation in the industry for having some of the best machines. 

Insta 728 Automatic Swing Away Heat Press Transfer Machine

Main Highlights

Swing-away

First, user-friendly equals efficiency in production. And, the swing-away design provides that. The open access to the lower platen make loading up the next transfer simple.

Changeable platens

Next, if you need to replace the lower platen for an accessories platen, you can do it with this model. Replacements may include smaller lower platens for prints on pant legs, pockets, and sleeves. You can print on virtually any small corner of the garment if you change out the platens appropriately.

Central pressure source

Even, appropriate pressure is one of the keys to a good transfer application. The central pressure feature helps you with that.

The pressure comes from the center of the upper platen. And, the machine’s struts drive pressure from the corners. Both result in an even pressure distribution every time you run your press.

Digital controller

Additionally, the Model 728 has digital controls for temperature and time. It also has 5 programmable presets for your convenience. And, a cycle counter so you can keep track of your machine workload.

Generous warranty

Also, you can buy with confidence. The upper heating element has a lifetime warranty. Moreover, you get a 1-year warranty on parts. And, 90-days warranty on labor.

High quality, durable casing

Lastly, cast metal machines are one of the best investments you can make. The 728’s cast aluminum is very durable. And, if you make sure to care for it, it may last decades.

A Quick Word About Stands & Accessories

Need a dedicated stand for your heat transfer machine? Or, maybe you want to start printing other types of pieces?

You can buy both separately. So, you have room to grow with your machine.

Stands

Buying a heat press stand may improve portability for your machine. Many have rolling casters so you can move your machine from one place to another. For example, Geo Knight has a universal stand that is compatible with its DK16 and DK20 models.

Geo Knight Universal Stand for DK16 & DK20 Heat Press Machines DKA-Stand

Some machines come with a stand. But, if yours didn’t, you can always buy one.

Aside from portability, some stands are also adjustable. This helps position the heat transfer press at just the right height. So, your operator doesn’t need to hunch over the machine anymore.

Take a look at Ikonix’s KX-03 stand for clamshell heatpress transfer machine models. This is one example of an adjustable stand. And, it can handle heat press machines up to 16 x 24-inches.

Accessories

In addition, you may purchase other accessories for your heat transfer press. There are attachments to expand your printing repertoire, including attachments for caps, mugs, plates, and cubes.

Geo Knight DC16 Plate Attachment

You may also purchase upgrades for your clamshell to make it act like a semi-automatic machine. This is only available for select models. But, it’s nice to have in case you want to upgrade without buying a completely new machine.

Also, you can buy a twin shuttle attachment for your existing twin station machine. This allows you to prep your next piece while the other is being pressed.

Furthermore, you may also purchase wraps to protect either the top or bottom platen from damage. And, these are a good investment to protect your expensive machine.

Getting the Most Out of Your Heat Press

Maybe you already have a heat transfer press. Or, you are a new owner. And, you still have some questions about owning a heatpress transfer machine.

Here are some information and tips that you may find invaluable.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Difference Between Heat Transfer and Sublimation?

Heat printing and sublimation are similar but different methods of printing. Both involve printing out the design on your special paper first. And, both also involve heat pressing the design into your work piece.

However, unlike heat transfers, only the ink transfers with sublimation. If you use transfer papers, a layer also transfers, too.

One is not inherently better than the other. There are different circumstances in which you would want to use one over the other. But, you need a heat transfer press to perform either application.

Do I Need a Digital Display?

The answer for this may be up for debate. But, if you are a beginner in the heatpress transfer machine world, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Digital displays make it easier to replicate heat settings once you find the sweet spot for a particular print and fabric. Especially if you print the same handful of projects all the time.

Being able to repeat the right temperature every time leads to more consistency with your transfers.

Do I Need Special Training to Use a Heat Press?

No, you don’t. As long as you get a good hold of the basics, you could be transferring in minutes.

Some good things to know are:

  • Handling buttons and zippers
  • Preheating the garment
  • Cover sheet purpose
  • Different types of transfers

What Happens if the Heat Is Inaccurate?

Having the wrong heat can ruin your garment. So, the temperature is very important when doing transfers.

If you don’t have enough heat applied, the adhesives in the graphic may not activate. However, if you put too much heat you may cause smearing, or an ugly outline. This happens because the adhesives get pushed beyond the graphic boundaries.

How Much Is a Heat Press Machine?

You are ready to start budgeting for your new heat transfer machine. But, how much do they cost? The answer depends on whether you want a starter, intermediate, or high-grade machine. And, it also depends on if you find any heat transfer press sales.

heat press

Heatpress transfer machines can range from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars. Beginner, or starter, machines have your basic requirements to print t-shirts at the minimum. They are typically a clamshell design, though some swing-away designs are getting cheaper. See our list of favorite budget heat press machines.

They are usually economical because they don’t have the bells and whistles of the fancier machines. This means that you may need to use analog controls for your timer and temperature.

However, that does not mean they are bad. For small shops, or light transfer needs, this may be the perfect press.

They are also usually relatively light and compact. So, you may be able to store them until needed.

Starter machines can sell for as low as a couple of hundred dollars if you find a good sale.

On the other hand, intermediate heat press transfer machines are a little fancier. They are closer to the $1000 range. However, they come with features that make it easier to use for longer periods of time.

Some intermediate machines are workhorses that can handle heavier t-shirt loads. It still may not be in the “professional” range. But, it’s a good option for those of you who want increased productivity without spending more money.

Lastly, the high-end professional heat press machines may set you back several thousand dollars. But, they come with all the extra features that make it feasible for very large workloads with limited operator fatigue.

So, you may find that many of the professional heat press machines have features like air-operation and automatic release. They may also have intelligent control features that can support up to 70 programmable presets.

These machines are for commercial use, however, and are priced accordingly. Unless you have a large manufacturing or clothing design operation, you probably don’t need the high-end machine.

Maintenance

Your heat transfer machine is a big investment. So, you want to make sure it is in optimal condition at all times. Part of that is doing regular maintenance.

Here are a few maintenance tips to keep your machine in the best shape.

Upper Platen

Taking care of your upper platen may ensure your application’s success. So, get rid of that ink buildup.

One way to do it is to use mineral spirits and a soft cloth. Gently wipe down the surface.

But, remember to make sure the heat transfer press is cool before you start. And, don’t use anything rough like a Brillo pad. The last thing you want to do is damage the slick surface.

You may also use a Teflon cover. Especially if your upper platen doesn’t have a Teflon coating already. These covers may protect your platen. Easily clean up ink buildup. And, replacements are not expensive if needed.

However, if you do plan on using a cover, remember that some of your machine heat may be absorbed between the platen and the cover. So, you may need to increase your press temperature.

Lower Platen Rubber Pad

The rubber, or silicone, pad is what gives your machine even pressure. So, you want to make sure you take care of it.

The edges can wear out over time just from the act of putting on and taking off garments. It may also get punctured by zippers, buttons, and other objects.

One way to protect the pad is to invest in a Teflon cover. Like the upper platen, you may also purchase covers for the lower platen, too. Using a cover can prolong your pad’s life.

It may also ensure that your pressure remains even, despite wearing around the pad’s edges.

Grease Your Pivot Points

Greasing your pivot points regularly can help prevent needless stress to your machine. Do this at least once a month, or more often.

If you don’t grease your machine regularly, you may have problems with your machine. This may include friction and wear as the links dry out. You may also experience some difficulty moving it.

However, if you do lubricate your press regularly, remember to also wipe down your machine. The grease may accumulate on the outside of the machine. And, that may damage your garments.

Other Tips

Sometimes despite your best efforts, you may make transfer mistakes. Check out these tips to ensure a perfect press every time:

  1. Preheat your garment

Running short on time? Overwhelmed by your workload? Despite how short you are on time you should not skip this step.

Preheating your garment removes moisture and wrinkles. Your transfer may not adhere properly if your garment still has wrinkles or moisture.

  1. Don’t burn your garment

Is this a no-brainer? Scorches may happen if your temperature is not set properly for your fabric. Some fabrics are very sensitive to high heats.

So, rather than trying to match the correct temperature transfer to the right fabric. Simply opt for low-temperature transfers instead. This way, you stay on the safe side.

  1. Beware of nylon transfers

Not all transfers mesh with all fabrics; nylon in particular. Nylon requires a special adhesive. So, be careful about which transfer paper you use on it.

And, that rule works well in general as well. Make sure your transfer matches the fabric or you may end up with an expensive mess.

  1. Use alignment accessories, if possible

Even pros need help from time to time. So, if you can, get a hold of some accessories that will help with proper alignment. You can try to purchase a laser alignment system.

However, if that’s not possible then get to know placement standards for different parts of the garment. It helps if you are familiar with them across all applications. This includes sleeves, full back, front center, or left chest.

And, when in doubt, verify with the customer again about their preferred placement.

  1. All pressure is not created equal

Do you know if you are using enough pressure? If you don’t have a read-out for your machine’s pressure, you may not.

However, you may have issues with the application if you don’t apply the correct pressure. It may even fall off when your client washes it.

Fortunately, most machines nowadays are equipped with pressure gauges. So, your operator simply has to make sure that the pressure matches the type of fabric being pressed.

Final Thoughts

Buying a heating press is a big decision. Even if you are a veteran heat press machine user. But, for the average home user, it may be overwhelming.

However, as long as you keep your priorities in the forefront of your mind. You can decide confidently, knowing that you are buying a heat transfer machine that will fit your needs.

Lastly, you don’t need to break the bank to buy a heatpress transfer machine. Especially, if you only need it for light work. You can start off small and add to it with attachments, if needed.

This way, you may eventually end up with the heat transfer press of your dreams. But, you don’t have to spend all your money at first. This makes your best heat press machine attainable, while still remaining economical.