You have been printing designs on t-shirts for a while now and it has been making a decent side hustle. Problem is, you use the good ol’ iron box and so the process is not only tedious but also time consuming.
You also think the quality of your prints could be much better, and maybe, just maybe, you could tweak things a little and print those playful designs on mugs too!
Endless possibilities, you see, but for one things: your method of working is wanting and preventing you from moving this venture into a full blown business.
So, what to do?
Simply get yourself the best heat press machine on the market without braking the bank. How do you know the good affordable heat press on the market?
By reading this guide that seeks to answer all your questions on heat presses.
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What is a Heat Press Machine and what are its Benefits?
First order of business is defining what this machine is and how it works. It uses pressure and heat to transfer imagery and numbers on surfaces. Some machine predominantly work on flat surfaces, but others have curved attachments that make it possible to work with curved surfaces. Being as they use pressure and heat, the design on the item you work on remains curved permanently on that surface.
This machine has a flat surface called a platen – heated electronically - that is mostly made of aluminum or other material that makes heat distribution easy and even. You can therefore use this machine to make prints on tote bags, t-shirts, mouse pads, and caps.
You will need to figure out the ideal time for various products, but that is where the manual in the presser comes in handy. Most of them will give basic instructions to get the right temperature range so that the outcome is just as you had it figured out.
These machines are not equal as you can tell from various heat press reviews. While some are large and great for industrial use, others are the size of common coffee makers. They are easy to transport and place in spaces that would fit just about any electronic.
Don’t let the smaller size fool you; you would be surprised at the outcome of the product even with these smaller machines. An LCD display shows you your settings so that you can manipulate them to suit any preferred change. A beeper that most have in their design lets you know when heat transfer is complete so you can check on your project without worrying about damages.
Oil extraction in your mind?
Interestingly, some of these machines are able to extract it too, but only from plants.
Great results come from input. Not even the top machine on the market will produce excellent results unless you input the right settings in terms of temperature and time. Most machines will tell temperature ranges in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, so only have to choose what suits you depending on the nature of material among other things.
Not so long ago, most people in the printing business preferred screen printing –where ink is applied directly on a surface, as it is much faster than heat transfer. However, technology is changing quite fast, making heat transfer almost as fast, and changing people’s perspective. Impressive results from press machines and lenient prices are also playing a huge role in convincing people to move to heat transfer.
So, why use a these machines?
Quality Work and Quite Affordable
Well, as we noted, the combination of heat and pressure makes prints permanent, so the final result is always so much better. When compared to other processes, this one leaves a lasting mark and makes it possible to venture into the t-shirt printing business.
These machines are quite affordable too, and so any size of business can start quite easily. Are you a hobbyist seeking new ways to make your gifts better or hoping to venture into business with your inspired prints? A heat machine could really change the way you express your art.
Easy to Use
First, most of these machines are ready to use straight from the box. They need no assembly and so you save time and/or money. They also come with deeply explained manuals so that you don’t have to figure how to use one on your own. Just read the material provided and voila! You’re good to go!
When you think of a screen printing machine that requires the use of solvents and dyes, you realize how much mess you are likely to make. You have to be conscious of your every move so as not to spill any ink or cause a mess that will change the whole game.
There are no such worries with heat transfer machines as you do not come into contact with ink at all. All you need to do is be careful of the hot platen and that worry will be averted by a swing-away design.
Heat transfer machines come in many designs, forms, and brands. You could get a manual one or an automatic kind that does most of the work for you. There are those with attachments to allow working on curved and cylindrical surfaces as well, and so there is no limit to what you can achieve with the right machine. Prices differ too from one machine to the other based on specs and attachments.
These unbiased heat press machine reviews will help you make the right choice when buying one.
Our Top 10 Heat Press Machine Review For The Money
1. PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital 15-by-15-Inch Sublimation Review
Got limited space but still want a beast for a hear printer?
Then PowerPress is the machine for you. It is not a new name in the press heating industry, and over time the brand has become one of the most recommended. The PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital 15-by-15-Inch Sublimation Heat Press, with its aluminum thick plate for even heat distribution is not the first to come from this manufacturer; rather it is a second edition. Being an improvement of a previous model, this machine has several improved features.
Among the new features that you will notice with this new model is a Teflon coating that prevents damage on clothes when printing. Although is it much smaller, it works efficiently while saving power. It only consumes 110 volts, meaning you can connect it to a regular home outlet without it overburdening your system.
Given its wide temperature range - 0 to 750 °F – you can use this machine for a range of items as well as different materials, even those that require higher temperature levels for heat transfer.
This machine only needs 15 minutes – max – to heat up, and has a beeper that goes off once the transfer is complete. It is easy to use too with all controls on the board, only made better by a one-year warranty.
2. Fancierstudio PowerPress Heat Press Swing Away
This machine’s upward opening design makes it ideal for small spaces as it will comfortably fit in a home while at the same time doing a great job at heat transfer. Its 15*15 plate is large enough for various print designs as long as they are meant to be done on flat surfaces, and it is made of sturdy, long-lasting material that is ideal for heat transfer.
It uses only 110 volts of electricity, and so you won’t need extra power connections than your regular home outlet. It can compete with other electronics, though, and so it would be best to find it a sole power connection.
To keep the item being worked on stable, the machine has a silicon pad that makes your work all the more easier. A coating on the plate ensures even heating for excellent heat transfer, while heat setting on the control board make it pretty easy to use.
You can also set the timer so that it turns off automatically without any interaction. Pressure is adjustable to allow working on different materials. You don’t have to keep checking whether the transfer is complete as this machine has a beeper for notification. Your pressure and temperature settings are displayed on the LCD on the side.
Thanks to the wide range of temperature settings, the Fancier is ideal applying letters and imagery on shirts, t-shirts, bags of various kinds, and ceramic tiles.
3. VEVOR Heat Presses 15 X 15 Inch 8 in 1 Digital Multifunctional Sublimation Machine
The Vevor is usually referred to as an all in one machine because of its ability to transfer heat on various items and especially those made of vinyl. Like many press heat machines, it comes with a flat platen that transfers images and numbers on cloths and other material, but what makes it stand out is its ability to transfer on mugs and plates.
The curve press that is part of this machine makes it versatile and one of the great ones for those seeking variety. Whether for small hobby projects or bigger commercial ones, this baby delivers.
It has enough attachments to print beautiful designs on textiles, ceramic tiles, and a whole bunch of other items. Its Teflon-coated plate reduces incidences of damage on material and promotes easy and even transfer of heat.
A 6-inch by 3-inch workspace with four mug settings makes this machine one of the most versatile and ideal for those seeking a press machine that can make several different shapes of imprints. Thanks to its numerous designs, this machine is fun for the whole family to use.
An impressive temperature range - 0 to 430 °- makes it possible to work with different types of material when using this machine. It only consumes 900 watts, so users at home will find it quite power-friendly.
4. Super Deal PRO 5 in 1 Heat Press Multifunction Sublimation T Shirt Press Machine
If you want a machine that transfers heat on various material including canvas at high speeds, then you may want to consider the Super Deal PRO 5. This machine that is quite versatile and easy to use as it has several features that make it ideal for business and home printing. While it does not have the attachments that work for curved items such as mugs and vases, it does great with flat surfaces.
One of the features that makes this press stand out is its control system with a swing rotating 360 degrees to allow a range of activity. The design makes it require a little more space, but you can still have it on your kitchen counter.
The settings on the machine make it easy to work with even without prior experience. Heat it up from 0-399 degrees Fahrenheit fir excellent heat transfer on different types of material.
With a timer range of 0-999 seconds, you can set it to the time sufficient to imprint numbers and images on t-shirts, jigsaw puzzles, ceramic tiles, and other flat surfaces. When done working, just move the plate to the side to avoid any injuries on the person working with this press.
It features a beeper that lets temperature changes as a safety measure that also goes off when heat transfer is complete.
5. F2C Machine T-Shirt Transfer Sublimation Heat Press
Need a reasonably priced heat transfer machine that does an excellent job and is ideal for both business and personal use? The F2C Machine T-shirt Transfer Sublimation Heat Presser is your go to.
This six-in-one machine is ideal for imprinting in all material types and will work on any flat surface, from t-shirts to metal, and ceramic. It is quite large and thanks to its design, it may take a little more space on your kitchen, but once you find a permanent place for it you’re good to go.
This machine has a 12 inch by 15 inch plate that not only allows for even distribution of heat on flat surfaces, but is also quite large for any working. The whole worktable is height adjustable - from 13 ½ inches to 17 inches. It also has a pressure control knob so you don’t burn up all your projects. The price tag makes it ideal for beginners on a budget yet the quality of work it produces is premium.
Starting up this machine is quite easy as all instructions come in a perfectly explained manual. Once it heats up – which takes 10 minutes max – you can manipulate the heat to whatever degree you need as it has a range of between 32 and 430 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Mophorn Heat Press 12x15 inch T-Shirt Heat Press
This 5-in-1 press machine from Mophorn is one of the preferred in the industry for a number of reasons. Apart from being an excellent desktop machine that fits in small spaces, it has a huge 12 inch by 15-inch that provides enough working space for a reasonably large projects.
Its steel frame is commercial-grade and so will last a long time while the platen is aluminum for hat transfer. This machine takes between 5 and 12 minutes to heat up to the maximum to be ready for pressing, and after this it goes from 0 to 500 degrees F depending on your preference.
The curved hat or cap press measures 6"x 3" and it is ideal for imprinting imagery and numbers on mugs and other circular pieces while the rest of the surface, which is also Teflon-coated, does a great job in flat items.
You can use this machine for ceramic tiles, canvas, t-shirts, and fabric of just about any material. The swing-away design prevents any chances of accidents as the hot plate can be moved to the side when not in use.
It may take a little more space for that design, but the safety aspect it brings makes up for that. This heat press has a pressure-adjustment knob that enables one to adjust pressure to suit the thickness of material.
7. ZENY Digital Heat Press Transfer 5 in 1 Swing Away Heat Press
This machine that not only boasts s 2in1 digital controller and a swing-away design has all the attachments that you need for working on different types of material and designs. This press machine, 5 in 1 in design, transfers printing ink onto ceramics, works well with fabric such as cotton and nylon, and also works well with mugs and glass.
It is ideal for printing on ceramic tiles and metal too. It does all these while retailing at a reasonable price, which is one of the reasons most people prefer it.
The 360-degree rotation that comes with a swing away design prevents any potential accidents when working with heat, while the 12" x 15" plate ensures even heat distribution for flawless heat transfer and printing.
A pressure-adjustment knob allows you to change the amount of pressure you need depending on thickness of material being used.
This machine has a wide temperature range - 32 - 430 Fahrenheit degree – that you can also change to centigrade if that works better for you – 0-250 degrees C. It has a timer that goes from 0 to 999 seconds, and whose timer beeps when heat transfer is complete.
The beeper may keep going on and especially as temperature changes, but this is only a security check. Whether you just want a heat press to impress your friends when you want to give away some beautiful gifts or you are looking to get into the printing business, you could never go wrong with ZENY digital.
8. F2C Pro 5 in 1 Swing-Away Digital Transfer Sublimation Heat Press
If you are looking to take your hobby to the next level where you make professional-looking products, then the F2C pro is the machine to get you there. This Sublimation Heat Press makes it possible to work on a variety of items, including mouse pads, Ceramic plates, mugs, and coasters.
Made of steel frames, this machine is quite sturdy and it lasts long. The material also makes it easy to stand heat and to work on material of just about any thickness. It has a curved press that makes it possible to print on mugs, glasses and other cylindrical items that you would be interested in whether doing it as a hobby or small business.
You don’t have to keep checking whether the timer is ready to go off as it beeps to alert you when the job is done. An LCD display keeps you informed of your heat and pressure settings so you can adjust them to suit your preference. Because the plate is quite thick and made of commercial-grade aluminum, you can print different sizes of material.
The working surface is large enough too. It lasts long, thanks to the material, and so your investment will return several times over. Good news is the price tag does not match the quality. You get great value for your money.
9. ePhoto New Digital 15" x 15" T-Shirt Heat Transfer Press
The ePhoto Digital 15″ x 15″ T-Shirt Heat Transfer Press machine is a medium-sized heating surface that is suitable for those getting started in the printing business but still want excellent quality. It is ideal for flat surfaces and will therefore be ideal for work on all sorts of material when imprinting number and images on mouse pads, ceramic tiles as well as jigsaw puzzles, and t-shirts. It does not have any of the curved attachments that could make it ideal for printing on mugs and vases, but it does well on flat surfaces.
A top-mounted knob allows you to change temperature settings so that you can work on any thickness if material. The digital control panel on the side is handy for changes and also features an LCD display that shows you the settings you chose. You can always change them depending on what you are working on. This machine is not only good for various fabrics, but it also works on metal and glass.
This machine has a large flat surface that makes it easy to work on a variety of products, including t-shirts and ceramic tiles. A non-stick Teflon coat makes the machine it easy to work on any type of material. This heat press of leniently priced and so you will have a good place to start if you are on a budget.
10. Promo Heat Swing-Away Sublimation Heat Transfer Press Machine
This machine may look small in size, but it packs a punch. Its 10” x 12” inches plate made of commercial grade steel is large to provide plenty of workspace and also quite bulky to last long despite the heat the plate handles on a regular basis. It weighs 30lbs and is suited for hobbyists as well as those venturing into commercial printing.
It has a wide temperature range from 0 to 750 degrees F and a timer allowing you to set anything between 0 and 999 seconds. You get to change the settings to suit any thickness of material. You never have to worry about your project being ruined by heat as a beeper set to go off when heat transfer is complete is installed.
Checking that your settings are ideal is made way easier by the LCD display on the board that allows you to change things to suit your preference.
What can you imprint using this machine?
Art, numbers, and images for your car plates, wood planks, tiles, glass, and even metal. There is no limit with the number of things you can do when working with this machine, which makes it pretty impressive especially for its price tag. If you are looking for a simple heat press to get you started, then consider this one.
11. ShareProfit 12’’ X 15’’ 5-In-1 Digital Heat Press Digital Heat Press Adjustable Multi-spring Balancer Heat Press
If you are a hobbyist working with a hand iron looking to transition to better and more professional ways of making beautiful art, then ShareProfit is the right heat transfer machine for you. Unlike the clamshell design that opens from the top, this machine has a swing-away design that we feel is preferred if you really want to avoid those pesky accidents from handling a heated plate. The company has been producing great heat presses for quite some time, and so this model is well researched and designed.
Made of aluminum, the 12*15 inches plate not only lasts long, but it also allows for even distribution of heat for the ideal artwork. The machine comes with five other attachments too; a curved 6″x 3″ hat press, a mug press measuring 3″-3.5″ diameter, two 5” and 6” flat plate presses and a removable silicone pad. With this pack, you can pay around with designs for t-shirts, mug, and a host of other items.
It has an inbuilt sensor system that sets the alarm off when printing is done. You have a wide temperature range – from 32 to 430 F – so that you can work on materials of varying thickness. The timer goes all the way to 999 seconds. It has a learning curve especially if you have never used ShareProfit, but the manual that comes with the machine is quite helpful.
12. MyPress Gen 2, Portable Heat Press
If you need a press machine that needs little effort to operate and work, then MyPress Gen 2 is the ideal machine with its easy manual and upgrades. With 3x3-inch Dual heated Axiom Plates made of stainless steel, it distributes heat evenly to ensure that the material you are working on comes out just as great as it was before you started the printing. Being as its temperature range is between 100 and 250 degrees F, this machine allows you to work on a variety of material, but not as a wide a variety as those with higher temperature ranges. Still, it does great for its price range.
Time range for this machine is 0 to 999 seconds, and it comes with an LCD timer that starts counting the moment you close the plates. Upon opening them, the timer shuts off automatically and resets to zero. It also goes off when heat transfer is compete or once the set time lapses. It also allows you to experiment and decide the timing for certain material so that you save the settings and use them in the future.
Size-wise, MyPress Gen 2 is smaller than most coffee machines and so it fits perfectly in small spaces. The power cord is stacked nicely behind the machine where it stays while in use. You won’t trip on it or be inconvenienced when storing it or during transportation. Using this machine is a blast too, being as it is quiet and works quite fast.
13. Dulytek DM1005 Manual Heat Press Machine
If you only have your kitchen counter for space nut have ambitions of owning a press machine, then you want to look to Dulytek for the ideal package. Whether you want it for t-shirt design printing or oil extraction, this small machine will fit in small spaces and allow you to get some professional work done without denting your pocket.
Its 3-inch by 5-inch dual heat plates are large enough for just the right amount of workspace while the commercial grade material – lightweight aluminum - used on them enable heat distribution for great results. It has a sleek design and touch screen control panels for easy working to ensure you get the right settings for specific work. You are also able to save your settings for future use.
For easy management and manipulation, an adjustable pressure knob at the face of the machine makes it easy to change the settings without strenuous pressure on the machine. It has a locking mechanism too so that it automatically goes off when the set time is reached.
Being quite lightweight, this machine weighs 30lbs and so it fits in small spaces. Its temperature highs are 7500 Fahrenheit for use on a wide range of material. Time settings go from 0 to 999 seconds, and you can save your settings too. You can read the temperature in Celsius too as this machine has dual settings. It uses 600 watts of power with a 110 voltage. The bigger parts of this machine have a 6-month limited warranty while smaller parts are covered for three years.
14. TUSY Heat Press Machine Digital Industrial Quality Printing Press Heat Transfer Machine
Tired of using an iron to transfer heat for printing designs on your t-shirts and want a more permanent solution? The Tusy is the right machine for your professional or hobby work, thanks to its ability to work on a wide range of material to imprint permanently on t-shirts and other fabric. This machine is quite large, and so it needs a little more space than most. Size notwithstanding, you can use it to imprint beautiful designs on garments of various material, T-shirts, jigsaw puzzles, any type of bag, mouse mats, ceramic tiles, plates and almost any flat surfaced items. It has no curved presses and so you cannot use it for mugs and other cylindrical products.
Its 15" x 15" Teflon-coated aluminum plate allows you to work on various projects by distributing heat evenly, while the LCD display makes it possible to change settings to suit specific projects. The time and temperature ranges are 500°F and 0-999 seconds respectively, while an adjustable pressure knob allows you to manipulate settings easily.
This machine is ideal for both industrial work too, thanks to the material it is made of and its size. Because the timer allows you to set your preferences, you don’t have to keep checking whether heat transfer is complete. It automatically shuts off. It is also quite cheap and so you have no reason to use old methods that no longer yield desired results.
15. Transfer Crafts T-Shirt Heat Press
If you prefer a manually operated heat transfer machine to give you all the flexibility you need when printing your designs on t-shirts and other flat surfaces, then this Craft machine is the ideal investment. Its 15 x 15 inch plate is aluminum made for ideal heat distribution and it gives the user a large surface area to work with. Jigsaws, ceramic tiles, mouse pads, and t-shirts are some of the items you can work on using this machine and so it is ideal for hobbies as well as professional printing.
The temperature range on this machine is 0 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and it can be controlled easily through an adjustable knob. Because you can change the settings, it is quite easy to use it on various types of fabric. The timer goes from 0 to 999 seconds and so the machine goes off when the appointed settings are reached. A beeper that is part of this machine lets you know when the process is done.
Apart from being easy to use, this machine needs no assembly time. It is ready to use from the moment you unbox it. It also comes with a manual that enables you to get started easily regardless of whether or not you have used a press machine before. Look no further if you are on a budget.
Things to consider before buying Heat Transfer Machine
You have made the wise choice of investing in the best heat press machine for a small business – or for your hobby – and now you have no idea what to look out for as there are tons of them online. Well, with the numerous brands on the market, one could easily get confused, but we will demystify them to help you make the best choice.
How much are you willing to spend? If you want the right heat press for home use, there is a high possibility you will not want to spend too much on a machine that comes with a ton of attachments that you may never need. Luckily, the market is well-stocked with a variety of machines ranging from cheap to quite expensive, depending on the make and size.
Quality of the Machine
Parts are everything. Naturally, you want a machine that can stand the constant heat and last longer, which basically boils down to the platen. Aluminum is the most popular material and it gets even better when it is Teflon-coated, as it transfers heat evenly and heats up quite fast. The quality of machine will determine the outcome of your art and even dictate the kind of material you can use.
Closely tied to the quality of material is machine’s durability. Remember that heat transfer means the machine is exposed to heat all the time and so it should be able to stand it to last long. Commercial grade material is the only kind that will stand hours of heat and last long while still giving great results. Naturally, the more expensive the machine, the better the quality of material it is made of and the longer it is likely to last.
Size of the Machine
How much space do you have for the machine? Some are quite large while others are the size of a regular coffee maker. The smaller it is in size, the easier it is to transport and store. If you are working from home and using your kitchen island as your working space, then smaller machines will do. You do not want to judge a press machine by its size… you would be surprised at the power those small beasts pack!
The purpose for the machine will also determine the size you choose. If you want a t-shirt printing machine for a large project or tender, you want a machine with a high output rate, which will have to be quite large. If you just need one for beginners, then starting small would not hurt.
Controls and Pressure Knobs
Functionality is everything when it comes to a heat transfer machine. You want one with digital controls that will allow you to set time and temperature requirements so that you don’t burn your projects. A typical machine will allow for temperature ranges between 0 and 350 degrees F, though more expensive models that are ideal for professional workings will have higher temperature ranges. Time range is usually between 0 and 999 seconds, with a beeper for when heat transfer is complete. Pressure knobs allow you to change heat settings to accommodate any kind of garment and material.
There is always something reassuring about purchases that come with warranties. They make you think and believe that the manufacturer has faith in their product. Most manufacturers offer limited warranties but they still count for something. You certainly want one that has at least a 6-month grace period and also, one whose spare parts are easily accessible. You don’t want to struggle with a broken down machine whose parts you can’t find.
A Thorough User Manual
Even though most of the heat transfer machines on the market are quite easy to use, it still helps to have a user manual to help you use it properly. The first time of using a t shirt press machine are quite intimidating if you have no idea where to start, and so a manual comes in handy. It also contains all the information you need on how to care for your newly acquired baby, so ensure that the manual is in a language you can understand.
Does the brand really matter? Well, with the current upheaval where we have new good brands popping up regularly, the name is not all that important. As long as the above points check, then you are safe purchasing any brand on the market. Safe to say, though, that the longer a brand has been out there the more trustworthy it is.
How to Clean a Heat Transfer Machine
Whether you mistakenly didn’t use Teflon sheet on your platens or pressed at too high temperatures that caused a mess, you can get the heat press machine looking as good as new with a few cleaning hacks.
If you simply want to show your machine a little TLC after using it for a while, just get a piece of cloth – preferably cotton – and dab in a little cleaning agent. EZ-Off Hot Iron Cleaner is quite good at working the surface of your platen to get rid of build-up that could reduce its efficiency.
Removing Vinyl from Platen
You do not want to scrape vinyl off your delicate platen as it will likely leave marks that could ruin the platen altogether. You want to warm the platen up and then use some delicate cleanser and piece of cloth or Teflon scraper if cloth would be too soft.
These tips will be helpful;
Be hasty: as soon as you realize ink is messing the platen, turn off the machine and clean off the platen. The longer you let it “cook” in the heat, the stickier the mess becomes and the harder it is to remove.
Heat: Lower the heat so you can clean a messy platen. It is practically impossible to clean a platen at 350° to 400° Fahrenheit without burning your hand. You want to turn it off and then start the cleaning process when the adhesive is still warm.
Gently Clean: Never use a scraper as that will only make things worse. Soft cloth or Teflon and plastic scrapers are ideal.
Use release paper: It is better to be safe than sorry. To prevent any chances of a mess, you want to use a release paper that will prevent any ink spillages on the platen. A release paper will not affect the way your machine works.
Top Rated Heat Press Machine Brands on the Market
The best brand differs from one person to another, but a few factors lead to the following brands being referred to as some of the best on the market.
The Fancierstudio heat press is loved by many for among other things, its price. The brand, belonging to a California-based company has some high quality yet leniently priced heat presses that cater to beginners and those in small printing businesses.
This brand not only offers great prices – that are a result of direct importation – but it also has great customer support and after-sale services. The machines come in a Teflon-coated platen already, which is value added to the customer.
This brand that has its eye on those interested in photography and video items makes elegant designs for this particular market. The company knows that most of the beginners in the industry have little in terms of capita, and so these amazing heat presses are quite cheap. They come with all the bells and whistles too including a LCD display, beepers, and other features. If you are in the US, shipping is quote fast and you have until a month to decide whether to keep it or return it.
Vevor, founded in 2007 and with offices in the US, Sydney, and Hong Kong, is a leader in the printing business in every aspect. Heat presses are only part of what the company does, and so it makes some really good ones. They are a little pricier than others on the market, but they are worth each penny.
VEVOR heat presses are not only superior in performance to others on the market, but they are also have great features. It is easy to see why the brand is a leader.
California-based ZENY was founded in 2009 and it boasts some great features on its heat presses. It only focuses on the swing away-design that most have come to favor for its safety feature. The machines are digital with LCD displays, timers, and pressure knobs.
Though this brand is still relatively new, it has quickly made a name for itself on the market. With its ability to make colorful graphic designs, this press machine comes with attachments that can print on caps, mugs and various shapes other than flat surfaces. It is also fully assembled and ready to use fresh out of the box. Great for beginners too.
Heats up on less than 20 minutes and comes with all the features you want in a digital press machine. Its non-stick 16 x 20-inch heat platen and ability to reach 435 degrees Fahrenheit makes this brand an easy favorite on the market. It comes at a good price too.
The Different Types of Heat Presses
There are mainly three types of heat transfer machines one the market, basically based on how they open. While they may function differently by small variations, these machines produce the same results and in most cases, they have similar specs.
The main ones are;
- 1The swing model
- 2The clamshell model.
- 3The draw model.
1. The Swing Model
As the name suggests, this model is a swinger, and hence its other name, swinger design heat press. When the platen is open, it swings on the side instead of opening to the front. One of the main advantages of this design is the protection it gives you against burns. When it swings to the side, it will be out of your way and so no burns will be experienced.
When the top platen opens, it gives you access to the platen on the bottom so you can easily arrange your substrate. This design is safe to use too and it offers more precision when printing than any other model.
Pros and Cons of this Design
2. The Clamshell Model
Just as the name suggests, it closes like a clam and it is designed as such. You simply open the top platen, place your substrate as well as design on the bottom platen, the close it for the heat transfer process to begin. You certainly have to set the temperature and timer first before the process begins.
This design is well-loved for its simplicity. There are no real learning curves with this straightforward model as the printing process is one-step. Being a simple machine that opens at the top, this design does not need too much space, and therefore it is attractive to beginners of those with little storage space. It is quite small too, and so quite portable.
Being quite easy to operate, you only need to set the design, substrate, timer, and temperature, and then wait for the beep that lets you know the process is complete. With an elaborate manual, you are good to go. Being great for thin material, this is the right heat press for vinyl.
Pros and Cons of this Design
3. The Draw Design
If you cannot seem to make up your mind on whether to get either the swing or clamshell design, then the draw design is the best compromise. The top platen opens the same way it does on the clamshell design while the inner bottom platen can be pulled out the same way you do a drawer. This way, you are able to lay your substrate properly on the lower platen as well as check on the printing.
As is in the swing model, the platen is out of the way to keep you safe from all those potential burns. In this regard, it is as safe as the swing model and similarly precise. While it might not do great with bulky material, the draw model is the best for bulky printing. It is also a great shirt heat press.
Pros and Cons of this Design
How to use?
If you haven’t used a heat transfer machine in the past, the first time can be intimidating. You would need to have a few things figured out, but the manual that comes with it is quite easy to follow and so you should be okay from the get-go.
This step-by-step guide takes you through a simple process that if followed to the letter, will yield great results.
Come up with the Design
Already have a design in mind? Could be a logo or abstract that you have already come up with before. You could use computer applications such as Photoshop to edit as they do a great job, and will help you reverse the image so that it comes out in its mirror form.
Print the Image on Paper
Once you have the image or numbers, you want to transfer then to the transfer paper, but it would be ideal to first test it on regular paper. If the image is what you want it to look like, then you can go ahead and print it on the transfer paper and see the final result.
You want your transfer paper to be clear or opaque on one side depending on the material you are printing on. An opaque film is great for when you are printing on clothes of various darker shades while a clear one will work well for white or gray shades.
Weeding and Prepping
We call cutting off the unwanted parts of the printed transfer paper weeding and this is one of the last processes before you start working with the heat transfer machine. The parts that you trim off are the blank ones that are not being laid on the garment.
Set up the Machine
Your substrate is ready to get into the machine now. What you want to do is fiddle with the settings to get the right temperature, pressure, and the timing fir printing. Turn on the machine using the on/off switch then turn the thermostat knob to the right until you reach the desired temperature for the material you are using, which will also cause the light in the machine to go on. Once you have reached your ideal temperature, turn the knob to the left until the light goes off.
Now, the light in the machine is an indication that you have reached desired temperatures, and so you can use it to regulate temperature – in manually operated press machines. Digital operations have a timer that only goes off when the process is complete, upon when they beep to let you know it is time to check on your project.
Once the machine is properly heated, open the handle to lay your substrate.
Lay Substrate on Platen
Open the top platen then place your apparel on the bottom platen. Ensure to spread it well and flat for good results. Then, lay the printed transfer paper on the apparel nicely with the film side down so there are no folds.
Close the Machine for Process to Begin
With everything ready, close the top platen and allow the process to start. This top platen is the heat transfer agent and so when closed, it heats up and allows this heat to penetrate to the bottom of the machine.
You will already have set the timer and so when the time’s up, a beeper will go off to alert you. You will then lift the platen up and peel the transfer paper off the garment to see how the print looks like.
Points to Note
After the transfer, give the pattern 24 hours to lock in before washing it as doing so before this time could result in run-off and damage. You don’t want that after all the effort you have put into it.
You may already know this, but we will say it anyway. Not all material is ideal for a heat press machine. Plastic, in its regular form will melt when exposed to high temperatures and even cause some damage. Most fabric, on the other hand, is quite flexible and can handle heat perfectly. Spandex, nylon, cotton, and polyester are good candidates for heat transfer.
Lastly, ensure to use the right transfer paper color for the right garment –clear film for whites and light-grays and Opaque for darker shades.
So, what should you do before printing on garments?
Before printing on a garment and making mistakes, you may want to print a trial image – and this is especially so when you have an order that you don’t want to mess up. You want to ensure that the image is in its mirror-image form so that it doesn’t come out all reversed and wrong. You may already know transfer paper costs a pretty penny, so waste it not by printing straight into it at first; that’s why we have regular paper.
Just before you print, you want to ensure that the machine is heated right and that the settings are ideal. Most transfer papers come with pressure and heat approximations for various types of material, and most manuals have guidelines too. They will come in handy.
Loading the bottom platen is a sensitive process because wrongly done, you will end up with some nasty folds that could potentially ness the garment – unless you can turn it into art. So, you want to be keen when loading your substrate.
Taking Care of Your Heat Press Machine
For the machine to serve you well for long, then you will have to treat it right. Even the best t shirt press can become faulty and fail to yield desired results if not taken care of properly. So, how do you ensure your stays in mint condition for long?
Always Clean the Heating Platen
After working with the machine, you want to clean the main working surface as it determines how heat transfers and whether the machine stays great. Cleaning the top platen removes build-up that could affect the way heat and pressure distribute.
Clean the platen by wiping it gently with a soft cotton cloth dipped in mineral spirit, but only after turning it off.
Protect the Silicon Pad
On the bottom platen is the silicon pad that ensures proper distribution of pressure during the heat transfer process. You want to care for it as it ensures the machine works efficiently at all times. Due to the regular removal of apparel from the bottom platen, the pad is easily damaged. You can protect it by coating it with Teflon that will prevent zippers or any other sharp objects from touching and damaging it.
Lubricate the Joints
Naturally, the press has pivot points that are subject to regular stress whenever you use the machine. These parts needs greasing to prevent them from drying up and becoming less efficient. Once a month when the press machine is turned off, grease these parts to keep them in excellent condition. More than once a month is okay too – even better.
Clean the Air System
If you are using a manually operated machine, then this step is unnecessary. Those using digital machines already know that they work through air compressors that pump air from the atmosphere into the machine. Particles are collected from the atmosphere, naturally and they could clog the system if not checked. The clog-up will reduce the machine’s efficiency and of not checked in a long time, it could cause a leak in the machine’s air system. You really don’t want this happening as the repairs could be quite costly.
Once a month, check the air system to see whether the filters need replacing. Moisture is a great enemy of your press machine too and so you want to store it in a dry place. If your region is quite humid, use a desiccant air dryer to suck up the moisture and regain the mint condition of your press machine.
Different Uses of a Heat Press Machine
What do you use a heat press for? Uumm, isn’t that obvious, you ask? Isn’t it for printing images and numbers on various types of material – whether wood, metal, or cloth? While that is true, some of the little-known uses for this little machine will surprise you. Could even prompt you to make better use of yours.
Customizing Things at Home
Want to add a little flair to your kitchen apron with a cheeky message such as “kiss the chef” or “My soup my way?” This you can do easily using a heat press machine when you follow the instructions we gave above. Make it interesting enough and you may just get an order from your friend and then her friend!
Making Cute Baby Clothes
Babies are only young once and so they shouldn’t have to wear boring clothes. Sometimes you will be lucky enough to get items that match your enthusiasm for dressing your kid but other times, they will be too bland for your taste. Want to add some life to them by adding cute little designs that bring out your kid’s bright character? Some words as “I started life in my best friend’s tummy!” or “I am my parents’ wildest dream.” Not too cheesy, right?
So you started off lazy and since doing the right thing was too much work, you decided to screen-print t-shirt designs. Now the once bright letters are blurry and you want a do-over. I believe you will not do the same job using screen prints but this time, putting in the work using a heat transfer machine. Soldier on because you are in for a treat!
Let us take a moment to appreciate beautiful spaces that look like someone really did put in some effort. But then again, let us acknowledge that interior design is an expensive affair. You will have tons of things you need to buy to turn your space into a lovable dome fit for your kingship, but then again it all depends on how you look at it. If you are keen on transforming your space without breaking the bank, you need only buy fabric and then start printing unique designs on it that will make your guests think you spent all the money in your account. Who knows, maybe this could finally kick start a serious side-gig that you have been too afraid to approach.
Customizing Mugs and Vases
While we are at decoration, we need to acknowledge those machines that come with curved presses for printing designs on cylindrical objects. Can’t find the right design for your mugs? Print your own using a heat press machine that allows for this kind of work.
Heard of oil extraction using a heat press machine? Some people do it, being as the heat transmitted to the bottom platen is enough to extract oil from plants, such as lemon grass. Imagine the aroma that will be floating in your home hours after this oil extraction!
Common Heat Press Machine Troubleshooting
You recently bought your first heat transfer machine and are super excited to start getting some work done. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work the same way you had envisioned and now you are in panic mode. Was it a waste of your money and what are you going to do about all the business you got through pitching?
Well, fret not as it turns out, some of the problems you are experiencing are quite common.
The transfer ink is going through the garment to the back, causing a mess. What is wrong?
Main thing: pressure. You over-enthusiastically applied too much of it and now the ink went right through the garment to the back. You can change this by reducing pressure and also placing a Teflon sheet in the garment for even more effective measures.
The heat press ruined my t-shirt. It got scorched even though the beeper did go off.
Well, fabrics are not the same and so you will to set the timer and heat requirements for each individual material. The best heat press machine for t shirts will allow you to set different times for other material too including wooden and ceramic items. Otherwise, you may end up burning every garment if you keep using the same heat, time, and pressure settings. Look at the transfer paper for more instructions and information.
Here are some basics.
You want to ensure that the fabric you use can at least handle heat of up to 180c, as this is ideal for getting the right design print.
Ensure that the material you use matches the right ink. Cotton t-shirts, for example, work well with pigmentation ink while other shirts made from other material will be ideal with sublimation ink. This is quite vital and the results will prove so.
The results from all my heat press jobs are quite inconsistent. What am I not doing?
The key to getting great results from a heat press machine are setting the right temperature, time, and pressure. If these are not properly aligned, you are likely to get inconsistent results. If you have checked that your printer is working okay, then the three elements could be the issue. To be honest, printing o t-shirts is more or less a matter of trial and error and so it could take a few failed trials before you get the right results.
Keep adjusting pressure, time, and temperature until you get the ideal combination and then save those settings to use in the future. There is this unconventional method that some use to check whether the right amount of pressure is applied. You place a dollar bill diagonally in the platen so that half of it is out, then pulling it. If you can successfully pull that bill out, then the pressure is not nearly enough. If it tears when you try to pull it put, then it means you have applied enough pressure and are good to go. Do you want to tear your dollar bills, though?
I just printed a design on a t-shirt a few days ago and it is already peeling off! What could be the matter?
First, you are to let the design set for at least 24 hours before washing your garment as doing so sooner could cause the color to run of the design to peel off immediately. If you didn’t wash the garment too soon, then maybe you just need to do it again – this time applying the right technique.
Before printing the design on the t-shirt, preheat it to get rid of any moisture and also to ensure that the pattern sticks well when applied. This time, ensure that the temperature is just right and that the material lays well on the bottom platen. Also, tighten the pressure knob so that it applies just the right amount of pressure for desired results.
Using a heat press has a bit of a learning curve, especially when you are experimenting on material with different levels of thickness. You may not get it right the first time, but that only means you can try again until you hit the right cord. You want to remember your settings as they will come in handy the next time.
Why You Need a Heat Press Machine for your T-Shirt Printing Business
If you are looking to get into the t-shirt printing business and to turn a profit, then there is only one way – investing in a heat press machine for various reasons.
Lenient Starting Capital
If you thought you would have to sell a few assets to afford a great heat press machine, then you are wrong. For as little as $200, you can get a good heat press machine that will effortlessly fit on your kitchen counter, and one that you can take with you for training demos. If you prefer a press that can handle bulk printing, then you would have to spend about $3,000, which is also not too much considering the value it creates.
You will also not need to spend a dime on inks and dyes like you would for screen printing, and so the cost of operation is quite low.
Great Results for Less Time
Once you figure out the right settings for temperature, heat, and time, you are in for a pleasant surprise. The prints on t-shirts will be permanent, thanks to the fact that you can accelerate the heat to 750 °F. Being as most heat press machines have a timer and beeper, you won’t have to spend all your time waiting for your apparel to be ready, and so you save on time. There are no chances of a mess too, which then ensures great results.
Easy as 1, 2, 3…
While it is true that some machines have a bit of a learning curve, thanks to their complicated makes, they come with manuals that will help you get the hang of it the first time. Even better if you are not afraid to fail as you end up learning more things that you set out to when you bought the machine.
Did you know that you could integrate your heat press t-shirt prints with other techniques as ink injection to bring out an even more creative mode on your work? The possibilities are endless when using a heat press and even better is fact that those prints are permanent.
Various Fabric Types
You can print your designs on various material including satin, vinyl, ceramic, and even wood and metal. These below are some of the ideal heat settings for different materials.
Polyester is not the toughest fabric out there, so you want to use less pressure and low heat. Ideally, heat should not exceed 270 °F, set the timer to 10 minutes while you let the pressure to be firm. You want to peel the transfer paper when it is still hot for the best results.
T-shirts and Sweat Shirts
These are the most common for printing and the specifications are quite simple. The heat should be between 365 and 375 °F, time set for 10 to 12 minutes, while pressure should be firm and transfer paper peeled off when still hot.
FAQ About Heat Press Machines
1. What is a heat press machine?
It is a machine that uses pressure and heat to print on various fabrics and other material including metal, ceramic tiles, and cloth.
2. Can the machine print on both front and back sides of a t-shirt?
It certainly can! After printing on one side, side it to the next and repeat.
3. How soon can I wash my t-shirt after printing it?
Ideally, after 24 hours to prevent any damage to the print.
4. What else can I make with a heat press apart from t-shirt prints?
Several items made of various material. You can print number and images on tote bags, ceramic tiles, caps, mouse pads, lettering, jigsaw puzzles, paper memo cubes, ceramic plates and mugs among other items. Frankly speaking, the list is almost inexhaustible.
5. Is it advisable to buy the cheapest press machine on the market?
In most cases, cheap is expensive and so you want to spend a reasonable amount of money on your investment for it to serve you well. For $200, you will get a great press machine mainly for home use, but one that you can use for a small business too. Anything cheaper than $120 is not a good buy, unless it is second hand – sold in good condition.
6. Can I plug in the machine to my regular home outlet?
Most heat press machines use 1800W or less and so they can be used at home regularly without worrying about shorting your regular power outlet. If you use yours for five hours daily, then your power bill is only likely to go up by $1 per week. Pretty decent, don’t you think? To ensure that it doesn’t compete with other power consumers in the house, consider using a different power outlet.
7. What is better for space-saving between a clamshell model and a swing-away design?
A swing-away design requires a little more space, so you want to have at least 3 feet unoccupied while clamshell and draw models only require 2 feet of space.
8. Do I need training to operate a heat press machine?
Not really as they already come with manuals. The manual will address pre-heating, setting temperature, pressure, and time, as well as how to care for the machine. In only 10 minutes, you will have known how to operate one.
9. Does a press machine need repairs?
Yes it does when you think something could be wrong. Maintenance is more important as it ensures the machine stays in perfect condition for the entire time you use it. Checking in the silicon pad, top and bottom platens as well as checking on the air system are all necessary.
10. Manual or Digital heat press; which one is better?
A digital press machine is much better because it has more specs than its manual counterpart. With a digital readout, you can replicate settings for pressure, time, and temperature for various materials and fabric, but that is not possible with a manually operated machine.
And that, ladies and gentlemen is a wrap! As you have seen from this deep analysis, we have keenly identified the best heat press machines on the market and also given you tips on how to care for yours. Whether you are just getting started in the industry or you are only planning to buy a press machine for your hobby, you will find the ideal one on this list. Here is to the success of your journey!