Equipment used in heat applied graphics is relatively simple. Mistakes are, however, common. A few mistakes lead to problems that may have financial consequences. It is important that such mistakes are not made or repeated.
Accurate pressure at time of transfer
Veterans of the industry go by the tried and tested “two hand clamp” method. The pressure can be assumed to be too light if one hand is enough to close the press. In case you need both hands to lock down the handle, then it can be safely said that the pressure applied is a correct one. This technique, although unscientific, works.
Modern automatic presses offer a PSI gauge to provide relative feedback on the application of exerted pressure. Many operators have adopted the “dollar-bill” method to ensure that proper pressure gets applied. This involves positioning a dollar bill half under platen and the other half hanging out. If dollar bill slides out, problems may arise. The tearing of the dollar, when pulled, means results will be excellent.
Determining accurate temperature reading
Measure the temperature of heat press a minimum of two times every year. An inexpensive way to do it is to use any metal candy thermometer to check the temperature. A wired pyrometer will also do the job. In case you get uncalibrated prints, consult your machine supplier.
An unplanned distress print cheapens an ensemble. Perfect transfers need consistent pressure and temperature over the entire surface area for a particular amount of time. If the defective area consistently shows up in a particular spot, then it can be safely assumed that there is a problem with the heat press. This happens mostly in cheap presses where heat is applied on a single area of the upper platen and does not cover the whole area. This causes cold spots. Check your heat press with a thermometer gun having the infrared technology. If you are in doubt, buy a new machine.
Ensuring a good print
Cut any transfer into multiple pieces and then apply the pieces with a little adjustment to the heat press to the garment's other side. In an overwhelming majority of such cases, a pressure adjustment gets the work done. An occasional time or temperature adjustment could be required too.
Testing for cold spots
Request temperature strips from the seller of the heat press. You can also ask the manufacturer's technical department too. Lock the strip in the press and you will know how hot the press actually is, and where.