Clamshell vs. Swing Away Heat Presses: A Quick Rundown

Nearly every heat press on the market is offered in either a clamshell or swing away style; each style having its own advantages. Clamshell heat presses have heating elements which open at an approximate 70 degree angle above the lower platen. They're ideal for garments like T-shirts and sweaters, as well as thin flat substrates, like keychains and photo panels. Their simple operation is perfect for quick production. The relatively small footprint of many clamshell machines allow them to fit and operate in workspaces with limited space.



Swing away heat presses feature a heating element that rises vertically, straight above the lower platen, and can swing away from the pressing area. This provides more open space for setting up your substrates and transfers on the lower platen. Thicker items, like awards plaques and photo tiles, work best with swing away style heat presses. This is thanks to the vertical, “floating” design of their heating elements. Upon pressing, these heating elements will adjust slightly to thick or uneven substrates, allowing for even and consistent pressure application.


In short, clamshell style heat presses are compact, efficient, and suitable for most garments and thin, flat substrates. While swing away style heat presses provide clear overhead access to the pressing area, as well as a vertical pressure application that is perfectly suited for thicker substrates. The best style of heat press for you will ultimately depend on how much space you have available, as well as the type of substrates and transfers you’ll mainly be working with. All the machines shown in this video are available right here at HeatPressNation.com!

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