Heat Press 101 Tutorial
Heat Press Nation is the leading heat press retailer in the country and sells a huge variety of heat press machines to suit your needs. There are multiple brands of heat presses ranging in both size and price and we want you to have a full understanding of these machines before choosing the one that’s right for you. Before we get into what differentiates one press from another, let’s go over what a heat press is.
A heat press is a machine engineered to imprint a design or graphic on a variety of substrates such t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, hats, mugs, phone cases and other custom gift and promotional products. This is done with the application of heat and pressure for a preset period of time. On most heat presses, such as this HPN Signature Series, the time and temperature can be set on a digital computer gauge while the pressure is adjusted with a pressure adjustment knob on the top of the machine.
The heat press machine is the foundation to any custom garment and promotional products and decorating business. The heat press is used in conjunction with the transfer material of your choosing or your job's specific needs. Some examples of transfer types used with a heat press machines include digitally printed heat transfer paper, heat transfer vinyl cut with a vinyl cutter, rhinestone transfers, sublimation prints, embroidered patches and screen printed transfers.
Before purchasing a heat press, it is important to think about the size of the images you will be transferring. This is important because in most cases, you can transfer images only as large as the size of your heat press platen, but can go as small as you are able to print or cut. We carry heat presses in many sizes for you to consider. There are label presses which are available in 5” x 5” or 6” x 8”, small format heat presses in 9” x 12”, 11” x 15” or 12" x 15", standard sized heat presses in 15” x 15”, 16” x 20” and 16” x 24” and lastly large format presses available in sizes such as 20"x32", 32” x 40” and 40” x 48”.
Other than size, another characteristic of heat presses you should be aware of is design. Heat presses are designed in one of four formats: Clamshell, Swing Away, Slide Out Drawer and Multifunction. Let's go over each of these heat press designs:
A clamshell heat press opens at an approximately 70 degree angle, directly above the lower platen, like a clamshell or alligators mouth. This format of heat press is targeted towards t-shirt, garment or flat substrate use. The clamshell’s straight forward design style makes it great for fast production and can be operated in a relatively small space.
Our next design style is the swing away style heat press. If the products you intend on transferring onto are thicker, such as sublimation tiles and sublimation plaques, then this is the style of heat press you should consider. The heating element on a swing away press does not open at an angle like the clamshell presses. Instead, it opens straight up and swings completely away from the lower platen. Because of this, you can ensure that even pressure is being applied to your thicker substrates consistently. With a swing away press you’re also getting the added benefit of having an open workspace, away from the heat of the top platen to more easily place and set up your transfers.
The next design style is the slide out drawer heat press. This design is a hybrid of the clamshell and swing away style, combining the fast action benefits of the clamshell style heat press with the open work surface benefits of the swing away heat press.
Our final heat press design style is the multifunction heat press. This design combines the functionality of a swing a format heat press with the ability to interchange and add additional platens to increase the heat press's capabilities. In this HPN Signature Series Multifunction heat press for example, this heat press comes standard with either a 12"x15" or 15"x15" standard platen and also includes attachments to convert the heat press into a cap heat press, mug heat press and plate heat press, with additional platens to accommodate different size mugs and plates.
Now, let's talk about the different levels of heat presses available. We carry heat press machines to fit any budget.
There are Home Use Level heat presses like the MPress Heat Press and Geo Knight JetPress Heat Presses. Home Use Level heat presses are designed for hobbyists or basic home startup environments.
The Small Business Level heat presses including the HPN Black Series Heat Presses are excellent for start up or small businesses, for those involved in small to mid-level production.
The Advanced Small Business Level, including the HPN Signature Series Heat Press Machines are engineered to take on higher usage levels, with additional features such as models with an auto open function and slide out drawers to increase production capability and speed. Advance Small Business level is categorized as those that are or have ambitions to reach medium to higher level production.
Next are Production Use Level heat presses in the Stahls Hotronix and Geo Knight Line of Heat Press Machines designed for commercial use and high production environments.
Finally we have our Industrial Use Level heat presses by Insta Graphics and Metalnox. These are heavy duty machines that are designed for industrial and heavy all day production environments.
Generally speaking, there is a direct relationship with the cost of each heat press machine and the engineering and raw materials that have gone into the manufacturing of that heat press product. For example, the Advanced Small Business level HPN Signature Series Heat Presses are significantly heavier in weight compared to the Home Use MPress Heat Press machine. This is because of higher levels of steel and aluminum built into higher-end models. In this example, the HPN Signature Series Heat Presses is built with a heavier and thicker steel build in the body of the machine, increasing its durability and its ability to apply heavier pressure in use. The 100 percent aluminum heating element ensuring even heat in all of our heat press machines is thicker in the Advanced Small Business level HPN Signature Series. The thicker heating element design provides better heat retention and less heat dissipation when going through heavy production cycles. What this means is less time spent waiting for recovery between transfers as the machine is opened and closed, resulting in faster production speed.
Additional features are also found in the small business, advanced small business, production and industrial heat press models that may be useful for your specific business needs. Please look at each heat presses' specification or our buyer's guide to find out which models provide some of these features. Let's talk about some of those features!
The Fahrenheit and Celsius Switch-Ability Feature allows some heat presses to display temperature in either Fahrenheit or Celsius measure. This is particularly useful when using imported transfers that provide transfer instructions in Celsius measure.
The Auto Open Feature helps to automate the heat transfer process in opening the machine automatically after the set time has elapsed. This decreases operator fatigue and increases production efficiency.
The Threadable Lower Platen Feature allows for additional room underneath the heat press to be able to thread the t-shirt onto the lower platen. Allowing for pressure and transfer to be applied only onto one side of the shirt.
The Gas Shock Feature provides for significantly smoother and predictable opening and closing actions compared to some spring loaded machines.
The Automatic Floatation Feature found on some clamshell heat presses automatically adjusts the top platen to apply even pressure on uneven or thicker substrate items.
The Multiple Saved Settings Feature is found in some production and industrial level machines to memorize and recall preset time, temperature and pressure settings for faster production efficiency.
The Pressure Readout Feature is found in some production and industrial level machines and provides a digital readout of the pressure being applied to the substrate.
The Interchangeable Platen Feature found on some models increases versatility of your heat press when working with different size transfers and applications.
The Pneumatic Air Operated Feature found in some production and industrial machines provide full automation of the heat press process, allowing for a gas operated opening and closing of the heat press.
We hope that this quick tutorial has helped to educate you in being a more informed and empowered heat press shopper and user. We here at Heat Press Nation are confident that with our huge selection of heat presses, we have just the right machine to meet your heat transferring needs. Should you have any questions regarding any of the products on our website or anything we’ve discussed in this video, please feel free to call our experts at 1-800-215-0894. Thanks for joining us today.