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.

Distressed print

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.


Angela Amoroso

Angela Amoroso

I am having trouble with opening and closing it! I have adjusted the pressure and yet with two hands needs to close it and when I go to open it, I lift the whole machine before it opens. It seriously can’t be that hard to open each time. Because I’m going to pop out my arm? Any advice?

Mindy Herink

Mindy Herink

I have noticed lately that there is a place on every tumbler I press gets slightly burnt. It’s like there is a hotspot. I have the 7 in 1. I only use the 20 oz attachment.

Denny Giangiacomo

Denny Giangiacomo

My Heat Press doesn’t beep, help

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