When searching for a new heat press for t-shirts, you will need to consider the type of press, the temperature, the pressure, the size, and more. All these factors will allow you to choose the perfect heat-press for your needs.
If you're getting ready to start a t-shirt business, then you'll need some equipment you can rely on. A solid heat-press is an investment that you will need to make.
Here's what you should consider when purchasing a heat-press for t-shirts.
What Is a Heat Press for T-Shirts?
Heat-presses are used for multiple printing methods, including screen printing, heat transfer vinyl, screen printed transfers, direct to garment (DTG), and sublimation. Heat printing is quick, there is no mess, and it is easy to learn.
Often, the heating press is a machine used to apply vinyl, cut by a vinyl cutting machine, to cotton t-shirts and other cotton apparel. These machines come in many shapes, sizes, and appearances.
It works by applying pressure and heat to a project for a set amount of time. If you are missing one of these aspects, or don't have the right amount of each, you will not have your intended final product.
Types of Heat-Presses for T-Shirts
So, what kind of new heat-press for t-shirts are you going to get?
There are several different types of heat presses for everybody's needs. They come in many different styles, so all you have to do is decide what style suits what you are trying to do.
The four main types of heat presses are the manual swing-away heat-press, the manual draw heat-press, the clamshell heat-press, and the automatic air-operated heat press.
The clamshell heat press is the most common type of heat-press on the market today. It works by opening and shutting like a clamshell because of a hinge on the back which connects the upper and lower platens. This type is good for beginner t-shirt makers and would take up little space in your workroom.
The manual swing-away heat press works by swinging the upper plate away from the lower plate to the left or the right when opening it. Many t-shirt makers prefer this style of heat-press because it is more energy-efficient. This type of press has less exposure to the air, so it loses less heat and saves on electricity.
The manual draw heat press is like the manual swing-away heat press except you draw the lower plate towards you while the upper plate stays in place. Some advantages of this heat-press are its preservation of platen heat and its compactness.
The automatic air-operated heat press uses an air compressor to automatically close or open the platens using button functions. Many people like this heat-press because of its durability and automatic functions.
Determining the Right Size and Shape
Determining the right size and shape of your heat press depends on what you specifically plan to use it for. A 15x15 inch heat press is the standard commercial size, but you can find heat presses that go up to 16x20 inches.
Most t-shirts will fit great on a 15x15, but if you plan to print on extended t-shirt sizes or larger pieces of fabric, you may want to opt for a larger heat press. Of course, you can always find custom heat presses for your business's needs, but you may need to shell out more money to get it.
Most heat presses come in similar shapes, but if you plan to heat press more than one t-shirt at a time, you might want a 5-in-1 or an 8-in-1 press. These types of presses are incredible by allowing you to heat press items like hats!
You should also consider where you will be putting this machine in your workspace. The location of your heat press can determine what type you should get as well as the right size for your area
Timers on or off the Heat-Press
Many heat presses come with built-in timers while others do not. A built-in timer makes t-shirt making easier for most people because it requires less attention. Some heat presses have an alarm sound once they're finished, while some will automatically open when they're done, so they will never accidentally heat the t-shirt for longer than need be.
You should decide whether you are going to multi-task while heat pressing your shirts. If you do plan on multitasking you probably want a heat press with a timer that sounds or opens automatically. If you don't, you may be fine with setting a timer on your phone or something else to remind you to open the press.
Having the Right Temperature
Your heat press's temperature is vital for the final look of your t-shirt. If you have too low of heat, it could make for an incomplete transfer, while too high heat could warp your design.
Be sure to let your heating press fully heat up before use, and never leave your t-shirt under the heat for too long. Reading the directions that come with your heating press will help you avoid temperature mistakes now and in the future.
One thing you could do to ensure your t-shirt will come out the way you want it is to do a test first. With a scrap piece of fabric and a scrap piece of heat transfer vinyl, you can test out your press to learn if it is working properly.
Features to Look For on Heat Presses
There are several features to look for to find the perfect heat press. All the right features combined will ensure your t-shirts come out how you want them to every single time.
The most important question to ask of your potential new heat press is the following: Will the top plate provide even heat?
Even heat is essential to a quality transfer of your design onto a t-shirt. You want a press with the coil of the heating element to be close together and go edge to edge on the plate. If the heating element does not look like this, you can expect cold spots with incorrectly applied vinyl transfers.
The next thing you need to make sure when looking for features is that the plates are thick enough to retain heat for as long as you need them to. You want your plates to be at least 3/4 of an inch thick. If they are any thinner, the heat coming from your press won't last long enough to press your whole batch of t-shirts.
Another very important feature is the pressure your heat-press applies. This pressure needs to be equal across its plates or else you will come away with an uneven transfer on the shirt. Buying a quality heat press that has good, even pressure and no warped plates is needed, or else your heat press is unuseable.
When to Buy a Heat-Press
You can buy a heat press online or in-person at many places. The most important thing to remember is to do your research. Buying the right kind of heat press for your business will get the ball rolling sooner and keep everything running smoothly. Buy your heat press when you are ready and don't buy the first one you see (unless that is the one you need).
Your safety is the most important thing to consider when buying a heat press. These machines are hot and dangerous. Even though clamshell heat presses are the best for beginners and t-shirt making, they are also the most dangerous model since you have to place your hands under the heating element to arrange your garment and vinyl cut out.
It's recommended that you select a swing-away or manual draw heat press if you are especially worried about placing your hands under a heating press's heating element.
You want the best for your business when choosing a quality new heat press for t-shirts. In fact, you likely want the best for your business when choosing all the products you need, including your vinyl cutting machine, your t-shirts, and more.
Lots of work goes into starting and maintaining your t-shirt business. You would not want to get hung up with a low-quality heating press or anything else.