10 Best Heat Press Machines (Reviews Updated 2022)

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Looking for the best heat press machine? You’ve come to the right place. Our detailed guide and heat press reviews will help you make the best decision.

Developing stunning imprints was once a highly expensive and challenging process. Those days are long gone, and now it has never been more straightforward with the wonder of modern-day heat press machines. What was once a niche market is now one of the fastest-growing businesses on earth.

There are thousands of businesses using a heat press as the core of their marketplace. Additionally, countless families are purchasing them for home use as well. Whether you are a budding enterprise looking for the next big move, or a family on the hunt for a great machine for creating lasting memories, the heat press is an excellent option.

We have researched a plethora of heat press machines, and have discovered that there is quite a bit separating good heat presses from great heat presses. In the end, we have arrived at a good handful of reliable options for your heat transfer needs. Here they are:

Best Heat Press Machines

1. PowerPress Heat Press Machine

Powerpress Heat Press MachineIs your space limited, yet you still want a powerful home heat press machine? If so, we highly recommend purchasing the PowerPress Heat Press Machine. PowerPress has been one of the frontrunners in the heat press game for quite some time, and as such comes highly recommended by many.

Features of the PowerPress Heat Press Machine

  • Style: Clamshell
  • Plate Size: 15 x 15 inches
  • Type: Sublimation

This product, whose long name is the “PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital 15 by 15 Inch Sublimation Heat Press” checks almost all the boxes for most heat press purveyors. It comes with a thick aluminum plate, allowing for effective distribution of heat. This second edition model is a significant improvement over the first edition, with improved features and a more energy-efficient heating process.

Among new features of the PowerPress Heat Press Machine are a thick Teflon coating over the heat plates, which assists in damage prevention on your workpieces. While this version has a far smaller footprint, it still packs a punch while practicing better energy efficiency for heat presses for home use. This machine consumes only 110V of power, meaning it can be plugged into a standard household outlet without overloading your electrical system.

What We Enjoyed

  • Some of the fastest heating in the game at ten to fifteen minutes
  • The Teflon coated heat plates prevent materials from being damaged
  • A vast range of temperature options (up to 500 degrees F) with a digital display for ease of use
  • A robust timer can be set for anything from zero to 999 seconds
  • Aluminum heat place provides a far evener heat distribution

What Could Use Improvement

  • Has a shrill beep to denote completion, which can become annoying with repetition
  • For the heavy-duty use, we were hoping for a more extensive set of plates, or the ability to switch out

Our Final Verdict

With its powerful features, compact design, and energy efficiency, we would be hard pressed (get it?) not to put the PowerPress Heat Press Machine anywhere but the top of our listing. It has serious upgrades since we last visited this model, and with plenty of new features, this sublimation machine is ready to tackle any task thrown at it.

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2. VEVOR Heat Press

Vevor Heat PressVEVOR’s heat press is the closest thing on our list of the best heat press machines to an “all in one” option. It has an innate ability to provide heat transfers on a wide variety of items, especially vinyl. Much like other heat presses, its flat platen (at 12 x 15 inches in size) quickly and easily transfers images onto cloth and other materials. However, unlike other options, VEVOR’s machine is stunning at quick printing onto plates and mugs.

Features of the VEVOR Heat Press

  • Style: Swing-away
  • Plate Size: 12 x 15 inch
  • Type: 8-in-1

The curved presses that come with the machine make it highly versatile, and a great option for variety, regardless of the level of work involved, from smaller hobby projects to larger commercial endeavors. This heat press has ample attachments, printing high-quality designs onto tiles, textiles, clothing, mugs, and many other items.

Additionally, its Teflon-coated plate reduces incidents of damages on material, and also promotes easy and even transfer of heat.

What We Enjoyed

  • The swing away style prevents potential burns from working directly over the hot upper platen
  • The Teflon coated heat plates prevent pressed materials from being damaged in the process
  • An array of curved attachments in the 8-in-1 machine allows for extensive work on a variety of pieces

What Could Use Improvement

  • There have been complaints about the potential for uneven heating with the coated plate surface
  • The platen is very small compared to the 15 x 15-inch standard and 16 x 20-inch large format plates

Our Final Verdict

Overall, the VEVOR heat press is the most versatile and attachment-rich press that we researched for this guide to finding the best heat press machine. While we wished for a more substantial main heat plate, we were more than impressed with the attachment options, focus on safety, and robust versatility.

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3. F2C Pro Heat Press

F2c Pro Heat PressIf you are on the hunt for the next level of heat press, where you can transcend past a beginner-level machine, the F2C Pro Heat Press is a wonderful option that will get you to that point. This 6-in-1 heat press utilizes standard and sublimation pressing to work on a wide variety of materials, from shirts to bags, plates to coasters, mouse pads to mugs and beyond.

Features of the F2C Pro Heat Press

  • Style: Swing Away
  • Plate Size: 12 x 15 inches
  • Type: 6-in-1

Built on steel framing, the F2C heat press is built to last. Steel also ensures that there are no issues with the intense heat drawn from these presses. Attachments that come with the F2C machine makes it possible to print on all shapes and sizes of workpieces as well, for a truly versatile 6-in-1 heat press system that is rare to find at the price point of this machine.

Additionally, there is no need to spend the time checking on timing and temperatures, as this heat press uses an easy-to-read LCD to keep you informed of time remaining, temperature and pressure settings, and they can be adjusted in-process. You get a timer as well, that has a soft but audible beeping when the job is complete.

What We Enjoyed

  • A long-lasting, coated work surface and sturdy build ensures there won’t be a need to replace plates
  • The steel construction provides quick and effective heat distribution of the working surface
  • Curves presses and attachments allow for work on a variety of pieces and materials
  • The swing away style prevents potential burns from working directly over the hot upper platen

What Could Use Improvement

  • While incredibly versatile, the plates were some of the smallest in the home heat presses that we reviewed
  • The temperature range caps at 400 degrees F, a bit lower than most of the alternatives researched
  • Swing away style heat presses require a larger workspace than clamshell and draw options

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we were impressed by the heavy-duty steel construction of the F2C Pro Heat Press. While we were discouraged by a few things, the feature-rich machine and 6-in-1 options made it an overall winner in our book, and substantial value for the price point.

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4. Fancierstudio Power Heat Press

Fancierstudio Power Heat PressThe upward-style standard clamshell design of the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press makes it perfect for smaller spaces and home use. While the 15 by 15-inch heat plate is on the smaller size compared to larger alternatives, it is still plenty large enough for a vast number of print designs on flat surfaces.

Features of the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press

  • Style: Clamshell
  • Plate Size: 15 x 15 inches
  • Type: Sublimation

Additionally, this product only uses 110V of electricity, meaning it can be plugged into a standard home outlet without worrying about short-circuiting or power overloading other electronics. However, we highly recommend giving this machine its own outlet versus plugging it into a power strip or a wall outlet that shares another device.

With a focus on stability and the user experience, the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press has a silicone pad to ensure ease of use and minimal potential for slipping. The coated plates provide even heating, and the manual heat settings on the control panel allow for a variety of options while not being too complicated.

An automatic timer can be set, allowing the machine to shut itself off without any human intervention. Pressure can also be adjusted for printing on a variety of workpieces that would otherwise prove more difficult. There is no need to check on the process of a transfer, as a timer beeps to notify you that the piece is complete. Both pressure and temperature settings are displayed in large, bright numbers on the side display, for an actual set it and forget it experience.

What We Enjoyed

  • The 15 by 15-inch workspace provides ample room for more basic heat pressing processes
  • A beeper that is not shrill denotes when a heat transfer is complete, for a hands-off approach
  • Silicone pads stabilize the workpiece while it is being pressed, limiting the potential for errors
  • 110-volt, 1,700-watt power draw, similar to a large microwave, excellent for home use
  • The incredibly affordable price point for the features received in this heat press

What Could Use Improvement

  • This product has severe limitations in the types of materials that can be pressed
  • There have been complaints about the potential for uneven heating with the coated plate surface

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we were quite impressed by the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press. With its standard feature set, silicone catch, and user-friendly hands-off functionality, this is a beautiful sublimation heat press for those just starting.

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5. Cricut EasyPress 2 Heat Press

Cricut Easypress 2The Cricut EasyPress 2 is a completely different animal than the other heat presses we are reviewing in this guide to finding the best heat press machine. A more modern take, Cricut has made the process of heat pressing items far more user-friendly while keeping pricing low, but at the sacrifice of some of the features and capabilities found in more heavy duty heat press options.

Features of the Cricut EasyPress 2

  • Style: Other
  • Plate Size: 6 x 7 inch, 9 x 9 inch, or 10 x 12 inch
  • Type: Other

For starters, compared to standard heat presses, the Cricut EasyPress 2 heats up in two to three minutes versus ten to fifteen. Additionally, the potential for burns or other injuries is significantly lessened with the far more hands-off approach that Crucit’s offering provides. Also, the EasyPress 2 is much lighter, more portable has less of a power draw, and has a far smaller footprint than all the alternatives we are going over in this guide.

The Cricut press can allegedly press anything that a heat press can, faster and with more user-friendliness. The types of heat transfers you can press with it include: Regular HTV, Flocked vinyl, Glitter vinyl, Metallic, Products like EasyWeed Foil, Rhinestone transfers, and more. However, don’t expect to be able to press thicker cloth items, canvas, mugs, hats, plates, and the like.

What We Enjoyed

  • Far faster heat-up time than other heat presses we have reviewed, at two to three minutes
  • A much safer option for beginners and children, with less potential for burns
  • This design is incredibly compact, letting us place it in a drawer or on a shelf when not in use

What Could Use Improvement

  • A larger version is needed, period. 10 x 12 inches as the most considerable option doesn’t cut it for practical use
  • If you need adult-sized shirts printed, or want to use a heat press often, this is not the best choice

Our Final Verdict

This is a wonderful option for those just starting, or those who are looking for a household heat press alternative that doesn’t look like a torture device. The price is right for beginners and small families, and this small item makes an incredible gift. Overall, we were impressed by the abilities the Cricut EasyPress 2 offered.

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6. ZENY Digital Heat Press

Zeny Digital Heat PressThe ZENY Digital Heat Press boasts many interesting features. In addition to a two-in-one digital controller and a swing away design, this option has all attachments needed to work on many different types of designs and materials.

Features of the ZENY Digital Heat Press

  • Style: Swing-away
  • Plate Size: 12 x 15 inch
  • Type: 5-in-1

This heat press is a 5-in-1 machine, working on transferring ink onto ceramic products, works wonderfully with a variety of fabrics, and also coordinates excellently with glass and mugs, ceramic tiles and even metal. This is all done at a reasonable price point, which is one of the central purchasing points.

The swing-away design allows for a full 360-degree rotation and prevents and potential incidents that can occur with working with the levels of heat found in the pressing process. The 12 x 15-inch plate helps to ensure that there is an even heat distribution and allows for a seamless transfer of heat when printing.

Many additional features are included with this machine as well, such as a pressure-adjustment knob, a wide temperature range, timer-based automation, and more.

What We Enjoyed

  • Many curved attachments and presses in the 5-in-1 design allow for work on a variety of pieces
  • The swing away press style prevents burns stemming from working directly over the hot upper platen
  • A feature-rich heat press, the ZENY option includes plenty of advanced features for users
  • 110-volt, 1,700-watt power draw, similar to a large microwave, excellent for home use

What Could Use Improvement

  • The beep that goes off for temperature changes is confusingly the same as when work is complete
  • Swing away style heat presses require a larger workspace than clamshell and draw alternatives
  • The platen is very small compared to the 15 x 15-inch standard and 16 x 20-inch large format plates

Our Final Verdict

ZENY has provided an impressive standard heat press that works well for both beginners and intermediate users. Its massive feature sets and solid reliability ensures that there are plenty of options for attachments and customizations for all users. We highly recommend this option for those on a budget, but wanting to get the best “bang for your buck” press.

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7. RoyalPress Heat Press

Royalpress 15 X 15 Heat Press MachineThe RoyalPress Heat Press’ pull away, or draw, style is a wonderful option, allowing owners to not worry about their hands being near the extremely hot platen when in use.

Features of the RoyalPress Heat Press

  • Style: Draw
  • Plate Size: 16 x 20 inches
  • Type: Standard

As the larger-than-average lower heating plate pulls out from the main machine, you can work on and modify your designs from safer positions, as compared to the standard clamshell, where you need to be working directly underneath a thick, hot plate.

Additionally, draw style presses save a good bit of counter or table space, as the plate pulls out directly in front of it, compared to a sideways swing of the more common swing away heat press type.

The RoyalPress model utilizes magnets to lock the plate in place when printing, which prevents slippage and ruining of a workpiece, while also unlocking and automatically opening once the timer elapses. This automatic opening procedure assists newcomers to the heat press world in controlling the heat that products are exposed to in the pressing process.

This press gets hot, too. The temperature controls can be manipulated to up to 750 degrees F, meaning it can easily handle pressing on many different materials, including hats, doormats and more! Additionally, pressure control increases the material variety even further.

What We Enjoyed

  • Pull away, or draw, style means this takes a far smaller footprint than swing-away alternatives
  • Draw process can be automated to prevent potential burns when completing a shirt or other design
  • Safer pull away product type preclude the need to put your hand directly over the hot plate
  • Product arrives fully assembled, with no potential for incorrect assembly
  • Price was on point for beginners or those not looking for full-time use from their heat press

What Could Use Improvement

  • Lower conductivity aluminum takes longer to heat up than stainless steel alternatives
  • Priced affordably, but at the same time comes with slightly lower quality materials than others

Our Final Verdict

The RoyalPress Heat Press Machine is a stellar option for starters looking for a larger-plate press design for printing their own products. With a pull-away design, this is a wonderful choice for those with limited space available, and also lessens the potential safety concerns with those starting in the heat press landscape.

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8. Mophorn Heat Press

Mophorn Heat PressMophorn’s 5-in-1 heat press machine is one of the most preferred presses in the printing industry for many reasons. Besides being a stellar desktop-sized heat press machine fitting into smaller spaces, its 12 by 15-inch platen size provides enough working space for standard projects.

Features of the Mophorn Heat Press

  • Style: Swing-away
  • Plate Size: 12 x 15 inches
  • Type: 5-in-1

The commercial grade steel frame will last forever, and the aluminum platen is durable enough to handle thicker transfers. The machine heats up quickly, between five and ten minutes, and from there can be adjusted between zero and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the added presses, including the 6 x 3-inch curved hat press are ideal for imprinting onto circular workpieces.

The standard surface, all of which are coated in Teflon, do great for pressing standard flat items. There is also a pressure adjustment knob, enabling users to adjust the pressure in tiny increments to suit thickness levels of almost any material.

The Mophorn Heat Press Machine can be used for an impressive array of items, from canvas tote bags to ceramic tiles and anything in between. Its swing-away design will prevent accidents and burns, as the heated platen is moved to the side when it isn’t being used. While it might take a bit more space compared to draw and clamshell heat presses, the enhanced safety makes up for the minor inconvenience.

What We Enjoyed

The swing away style prevents potential burns from working directly over the hot upper platen

Mophorn’s thicker plate is built from aluminum, with a Teflon coating for impressive distribution of heat

Multiple accessory plates allow for heat pressing on non-flat items and off-shaped workpieces

Pressure adjustment knobs, temperature controls and digital LED controllers for ease of use

What Could Use Improvement

Swing away style heat presses require a larger workspace than clamshell and draw options

The main platen is very small, especially compared to OrangeA’s 16 x 20-inch option

Our Final Verdict

Overall, we were very impressed with the Mophorn Heat Press. Between its sturdy build, Teflon coating, and safety-focused swing-away design, this is a wonderful option for everyone from beginners to experienced pressing professionals.

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9. TUSY Heat Press

Tusy Heat PressThis is the juggernaut.

Regarding heat presses, the TUSY brand is one of the most reliable names available for professionals and large-scale work with multiple product types. The Hotronix machines are the gold standard for heat presses and are what more extensive operations use. If you want a device that will last a lifetime, with stellar customer service and fantastic build quality, you can’t go wrong with a Hotronix Fusion. However, that comes at a price.

Features of the TUSY Heat Press

  • Style: Clamshell
  • Plate Size: 15 x 15 inch, 16 x 24 inch, 16 x 16 inch, and 6 x 6 inch
  • Type: Standard
  • Pressure adjustable

This machine is a clamshell press, while it’s upgraded counterpart the TUSY Heat Press Machine Pro is a hybrid design that can work as either a swing-away or a draw heat press, something unheard of in any of the other presses we researched.

The platen of the Fusion model can be a variety of sizes. However, the most commonly sold is their heavy-duty model, which is 16 x 24 inches, the largest by far of the plates for the heat presses reviewed in our processes. If your pockets are deep enough, and you plan to use your heat press for business purposes, you cannot go wrong with TUSY and their Heat press.

What We Enjoyed

  • The cast iron of heat presses, this machine is durable enough to last multiple lifetimes.
  • This is the heat press of choice for professionals looking for a long-lasting option with repetitive use.
  • The platen is large enough to handle any material thrown its way with ease.
  • An auto-release automatically lifts the top platen off the workpiece when the timer elapses.

What Could Use Improvement

  • The price point is a bit higher than even the closest heat press for beginner or intermediate use.
  • This thing is massive and is way too much for a home use device.
  • Safety protocols and features are minimal, and beginners should not use this machine.

Our Final Verdict

If you’re a startup or a growing small business looking for the best heat press machine for vinyl, ink, or any other material, the Hotronix Fusion Heat Press is the ideal option for you. While it is the priciest of the options reviewed, it is also the most robust, has the largest platen, and has an innate ability to work correctly again and again.

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10. Hix Swingman Heat Press

Hix Swingman Heat PressHix’s SwingMan heat press machine is available in two sizes: 15 x 15 inches for the SwingMan 15, and 16 x 20 inches for the SwingMan 20E. Besides the difference in platen size, there is nothing different about the two machines, and a 15 x 15-inch press is perfect for most transfers. However, if you have larger shirts or garments, bags and such, or are a small business owner dependent on efficient heat press use, you might want to look into the 16 x 20-inch platen option.

Features of the Hix Swingman Heat Press

  • Style: Swing-away
  • Plate Size: 15 x 15 inch or 16 x 20 inch
  • Type: Standard

This swing-away heat press has a strong focus on safety, apparent from the swinging style that keeps hands and arms away from the hovering superheated top platen, and instead moves the workpiece to the side for easy access. However, this comes at the drawback of the footprint, as unlike clamshell and draw style presses, you are going to need significantly more space available for working.

The Hix SwingMan Heat Press can transfer onto materials up to two inches thick. This is highly impressive, as many entry-level or less expensive machines can’t retain the pressure necessary to print on items half this thickness.

What We Enjoyed

  • With swing-away and thicker pressure projects working in tandem, we can do tile sublimation with ease
  • Thermal diffusion is highly effective thanks to a cast-in heating element in both plates.
  • The steel design was manufactured with longevity in mind.
  • Feature rich, including pressure levers, electrical safety fuses, on/off relays, and a heat indicator light

What Could Use Improvement

  • Value per dollar this is not the best heat press we found, but it is a contender overall in our research.
  • The temperature range only goes up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, too low to press onto some material.

Our Final Verdict

Hix has provided a very impressive middle of the road heat press. It works quite well for both beginners and intermediate users. Its heavy feature sets and robust safety protocols ensure that no stone is left unturned. We highly recommend this option for those on a budget, but wanting to get the best “bang for your buck” press.

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Best Heat Press Machine Buying Guide

Now that you’ve seen our top 10 recommendations, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about buying heat press machines. This section is intended for new users. However, even experienced veterans can learn a thing or two.

What is a Heat Press Machine?

Heat press machines use a combination of heat and pressure (obviously) to apply designs or transfers to a wide variety of printed media. They can be used to apply pre-made or custom designs to many items, from hats to T-shirts, mouse pads to tote bags and everything in between.

These designs are developed on a computer and then printed onto an array of material options for transfer, with different effects. Some of the transfer options include:

  • Vinyl
  • Sublimation paper
  • Ink transfer paper
  • Plastisol

A heat transfer machine is used by printing professionals, but also by small business owners who have an involvement in their own creative and promotions. Additionally, families looking to create wonderful gifts or solid memorabilia for events can use heat pressing to make their dreams a reality.

Heat Press Machine Categories and Types

There are three main categories of heat press machine commonly manufactured: Swing Away, Draw, and Clamshell. There are also two methods of use for these types of device: Manual and Automatic (although there are some semi-automatic machines as well). You may have noticed our identification of these in the “Style” line below the heat presses suggested above.

Swing Away Heat Press Machines

Ideal for: maximum efficiency

Swing away (or swinger) heat presses consist of upper plates that swing to one side or the other, with a lower plate underneath.

One of the advantages to swing away heat presses are their ability to provide direct access to lower plates. With this access, users can lay their material out for the transfer process without the safety hazards present in the superheated top plate.

A potential disadvantage to these types of machines is that you are going to need a slightly larger footprint to allow for the top arm to swing correctly. However, access with far greater convenience increases the productivity and efficiency of overall production.

Draw Heat Press Machines

Ideal for: those looking for greater customization

Heat presses in the “draw” style have lower plates that can be pulled out, or drawn, similar to a silverware drawer or keyboard shelf on a desk.

Much like the swing away style above, draw heat transfer machines provide the user with direct access to the work platform. This is done without the need to reach underneath heated plates, risking burns, and severe injury.

Unlike other styles of heat press, with draw style presses, the working surface, not the upper plate, is the moving piece. What this means is that you will need to take extreme care in positioning to ensure it does not move under the heat.

Clamshell Heat Press Machines

Ideal for: beginners and budget buyers

Clamshell-style t-shirt presses have strong hinges between the upper and lower plates. This allows the press to open like a clam. For operation, the user needs to lower the top plate onto the bottom plate, and then apply pressure.

These heat press options are the best choices for those just starting and are the most common heat press styles available. They are ideal for the creation of vinyl pressed T-shirts and clothing items. However, they may not be the best choice for thicker pieces. This is due to restricted opening sizes between the two plates.

Additionally, it is essential to avoid touching either of the heated plates when you are positioning your items for transfer onto the clamshell-style heat press machine.

Comparing Manual, Automatic and Semi-Automatic Types

There are three different types of heat press machines: manual, automatic, and semi-automatic (sometimes referred to as auto-release). Manual tools will generally have buttons or knobs for setting pressure and temperature. At times, they also have a timer, although this is brand-dependent.

Conversely, automatic heat presses are just that: fully automated. All of the main processes that take place in a pressing are programmable. There are also semi-automatic versions, where some of the process aspects are automated, and others are manual. Below are some of the main differences between the types.

Manual Types

Manual heat presses are found in the clamshell and swing away styles, not the draw style. As an operator, you need to know how to open and close the press on your own safely. Also, you are going to have to set the time and pressure on the machine.

Semi-Automatic Types

Semi-automatic heat presses work on an auto-release and only come in clamshell styles. Users need to close the press themselves to start the heat transfer process. However, after a workpiece is complete, it will be released and opened automatically, based on a programmed timer.

Automatic Types

Fully automatic heat presses can sometimes be known as “vacuum presses” or “hydraulic presses.” These can be found in all three styles. These presses control timing and heat with precision to ensure that prints are as perfect as possible every time. This comes at a far higher price point, though.

Automatic heat presses utilize air pressure in determining the amount of force needed, and then programmable timers release the workpiece after completed. Unless you are a highly experienced heat press operator, you’ll be “hard pressed” to John Henry this one and be faster than an automatic machine.

Should You Buy a T-Shirt Heat Press Machine or a Screen Printing Machine?

If you’re thinking about starting a business making custom-printed apparel, having the right tools is essential. Of course, the most important tool creating graphic printed clothing is the device that will transfer the designs.

Heat pressing and silk screen printing are the two most common methods used for applying printed designs on textiles. While both methods yield relatively similar results, the process involved is quite different. The option you choose can have a big impact on your bottom line and the overall success of your business.

So, which should you choose: heat pressing or silk screening? If you want your business to be as lucrative as possible, the former is definitely the way to go. Why? – Read on to find out.

Heat Pressing vs Screen Printing

Both heat pressing and screen printing are used to create images on substrates, and both methods can produce amazing results; however, the two processes differ greatly. Below, we outline the process involved with each method so you can gain a better understanding of why using a heat press machine is a better option than screen printing for the overall success of your graphic garment production business.

Heat Pressing

The process of heat pressing involves using a heat press machine, which applies graphic images and designs to substrates using both heat and pressure.

With heat pressing, a design is either printed on heat transfer paper or cut out of heat transfer vinyl with a vinyl cutter machine. The design is then pressed into a medium – T-shirts, tote bags, baseball caps, etc – with a heat press machine. Of all the different methods used to create graphic printed items – including screen printing – the heat press machine is the preferred method for business owners. Why? – Because it’s easier and yields faster results than screen printing; plus, the creative options are virtually limitless. A heat press machine can be used to apply images and designs onto a wide-variety of substrates, and there’s no limit to the type of designs that can be created.

Silk Screen Printing

With silk screen printing, a design is cut into mesh screens, and the screens serve as stencils. The screens are laid onto a substrate – a T-shirt, for example – and then ink is spread over the top of the screen. The ink passes through the screen to the item underneath it, imprinting the stencil onto the item.

While screen printing can produce incredible graphic images, the process is limiting. For example, only a single color can be applied to one screen, so if you want to create a print with several colors, you’ll need to use several screens. Obviously, it’s more cumbersome and takes a lot more time. It can also become quite expensive. Furthermore, the design options are limited to the images that can be cut into the screens and cutting screens into stencils can be a difficult process. Lastly, while silk screening can be used to apply designs to various mediums, it can be used to create designs on as many substrates as heat pressing can.

Which is Better?

While heat pressing and screen printing can produce incredible results, if you’re looking to turn out products as quickly as possible and you want to invest the lowest amount of money possible, the heat press machine is a better option than a screen printing machine. Because it’s easier to use, less complex, the design options are virtually limitless, less cost prohibitive, and you can produce large quantities at a faster rate, you’ll see a better return on investment for your business when you invest in a heat press machine.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Heat Press Machine

Deciding to pull the trigger on the purchase of a heat press machine is not something that should be taken lightly. On the contrary, whether you are buying a product for use in your business or department, or merely a few quick T-shirts for an upcoming family reunion or vacation, it’s crucial to get the right tool for the job.

Some of the most important considerations that should be taken into account when researching heat press machine reviews are:

  • Size of the machine
  • Intended use
  • Materials being pressed
  • Type of device needed
  • Estimated volume of production
  • Budgetary constraints

Let’s dig into each of these and tease out the vital aspects of each factor to assist in final decision making.

Size of the Machine

The size of the best heat press machines will depend on two factors:

  1. The products that you are printing
  2. The space you have available for printing

As we have mentioned, both the draw press and the swing away press require far more room for operation than clamshell heat presses. Of course, there is also the footprint for the heat press itself. A larger press is going to need far more space than a smaller one.

But, larger presses allow users to press more substantial items, like bedding, bags, and towels. If you only want to print smaller pieces, or if your space is minimal, smaller heat presses might be the ideal choice to exceed your needs.

Intended Use

What are you going to be using your heat press for? Personal reasons, or perhaps business-related purposes? If you plan to use your device for business, it is likely you will need dedicated space and want to have the most effective transfer process based on your proposed purchasing budget.

Conversely, if you are using your heat press for hobby-related purposes or small projects here and there, you will likely be on the hunt for a smaller, more portable machine. Something that can easily be stowed away on a shelf somewhere when not being used.

Materials Being Pressed

You are going to need to utilize an array of pressure levels and temperatures depending on the transfer type and media type being printed upon. As such, it is essential to do plenty of upfront research to have a strong concept of which heat presses achieve the results on the workpieces you want to press.

If you are confused, find suppliers in your area and online to get a deeper understanding of the different types of transfers and how the materials being pressed relate to them.

Type of Machine Needed

The type of machine you are going to need is dependent on many things. While many heat presses will say that they can handle many types of material, some have been manufactured to treat some types of product better than others.

The highest-value heat presses are going to be those that are mainly set up to press ink, vinyl, and plastisol. Sublimation printers are likely going to be needed to print on items such as coffee mugs and plates.

If you have a vast number of items that you’re looking to press, some products, such as the standard “five in one” machine, comes with everything you need to do not only ink and vinyl heat presses, but also sublimation prints on things such as hats, mugs, plates and more.

The TUSY Heat Press Machine is a nice alternative here.

Estimated Volume of Production

Are you wanting a heat press machine that is capable of producing a large number of printed shirts in an hour or so? Or maybe instead you want one you can use for a few products every once in a while?

Regardless, the larger the work volume, the more robust and high-quality your machine needs to be to accommodate. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s pretty much a rule of thumb for any piece of equipment being purchased, regardless of the niche.

At the same time, it is crucial to remember that quality comes at an increase in cost. If you want an industrial-level heat press, expect to pay quite a bit more. However, you will also benefit from a far most heavy-duty piece of machinery, with stronger efficiency for heating, and some advanced features like temperature controls and automatic timers.

Alternatively, those looking for a quick fix machine for smaller numbers of items will do just fine with one of the smaller, more affordable heat presses on the market.

Budgetary Constraints

Remember, you get what you pay for. This does not in any way mean that you need to run out and purchase the most expensive heat press you can find. The amount you spend on your heat press machine also should depend on the volume of product, the temperature ranges required, and if you prefer manual or automatic.

The costs vary wildly, from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand. That’s why it’s vital to ensure you do your due diligence before making a purchase.

Product reviews like ours provide great insight into the advantages and disadvantages of each machine, in addition to providing suggestions for the best applications of each one. In the end, these guides provide the knowledge necessary to make the best purchasing decision based on your budget.

Important Features for Purchase Decisions

There are plenty of features that are important in a heat press. Some of them include the machine’s durability, versatility, portability, and temperature.

Regarding Durability

Are you looking for a heat press that you’ll use occasionally?

Or maybe you want a press that you can use again and again?

If you’re on the hunt for a press that will handle a smaller volume or heat transfer vinyl and nothing else, lighter, hobby-focused presses will be ideal for your individual needs.

Alternatively, if you need to produce medium to high volumes of heat transfers, you are going to want a far more durable machine built to handle higher volume work.

Regarding Versatility

Are you focused on sublimation style prints?

If so, is that the only thing you plan on doing with your machine?

If this is the case, fantastic, set your eyes on a heat press that is geared specifically for that type of work.

However, if you’re not decided on what you want out of your press, you may want to consider some of the “five in one” style presses that are adaptable to multiple types of materials and media.

Regarding Portability

Do you need to move your heat press around with ease?

Will this press have a permanent spot in your business or home?

More extensive models of heat presses can be extremely cumbersome, with heavy-duty materials. It’s essential to consider the portability factor when making a purchase decision. Remember, bigger is not always better.

Otherwise, you are aren’t expecting to need to move your machine, and you’re looking for the flexibility to print on a wide range of items, larger presses are fantastic, feature-rich options.

Regarding Temperature

Do you want to stand out from other vendors with high-quality heat vinyl transfers?

Maybe instead you prefer the ease of use that comes along with ink transfers?

The possible range of temperatures is a smart consideration when you are looking to purchase your heat press. It will be a determining factor in the heat transfer vinyl products that can be used. The expense is too high to be left in the dark.

A Note on Heat Press Safety

Heat transfer machines are surprisingly safe to use. However, much like all electrical appliances and items that produce heat, some things need to be known before pressing away.

It should be a given that small children and your furry friends should stay away from the super heated plates. You should also take care not to put any part of your own body on or near the heated plates, as severe burns can and will occur.

If you purchase a machine secondhand, and the machine is quite a bit older, note that older heat presses tend to utilize a lot of power in the heating up process. This power drain can potentially affect other electronics in your household. This is why we always recommend buying new. Newer, more modern equipment is far more energy efficient and far less of a potential fire or electrical hazard. Remember, technology advances happen quickly. Similar to buying the best screen printing machine, you’re going to want to make sure you have a newer heat press machine.

Heat Press Review Conclusion

Finding the best heat press is no easy task. Hopefully this comprehensive guide, suggestions, and cautions will provide a strong foundation for your research before making a purchasing decision. Heat presses may seem like a no-frills item (heat up plates, press down, lift up, repeat), but when you get granular and into the nuances of each type of machine, things can quickly become confusing.

Knowing ahead of time what you’re getting into before making a final decision on a heat press can make or break your experience. We here at Big Time Shirt exist to try and make that knowledge more accessible with our overviews and heat press reviews. Happy pressing!




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