What heat press should I buy?
A common question but the answer is rarely straight forward as there are many factors to consider.
What is a heat press.
A heat press is a machine engineered to imprint a design or graphic on a substrate, such as a t-shirt, with the application of heat and pressure for a preset period of time.
Where does it fit in the process.
1, Choose an image to put on a product like a t-shirt
2. Print onto heat transfer paper
3. Lay the image on your t shirt
4. Use a heat press to transfer the image on the t shirt.
Which heat press should you buy
What are you going to use it for? Garments (T Shirts, Hoodies, Caps), promotional items (mouse maps, phone cases etc) , DTG preparation and curing, sublimation, Vinyl, Plastisol transfers etc Heat Presses are involved in all of these process however there are a few areas to consider before parting with your money
So here are some of our views …
Accurate Heat – to get the best results a heat press needs to maintain accurate and consistent heat across the platen. Too little heat may not activate the adhesives to fully fix the graphic to the garment, too much heat can affect the graphic quality, reducing opacity or not giving an even cure.
Digital control – needed to ensure you have accurate temperature you don’t want fluctuating temperatures, you need accurate timings and therefore consistent results. Many digital controllers come with timers and safety features such as auto shutdown and alarms.
Even pressure – uneven pressure will lead to poor adhesion and inconsistent curing of ink therefore always choose a press which you can adjust and set for different thickness of substrates. Some presses have pressure gauges which are ideal for ensuring consistent results.
Size of the Heat Press – there are many sizes to choose from and a key question to ask when buying a press is ‘What is the largest size of garment / substrate will I be using?’ It normally makes good sense to buy a press that can accommodate future needs. It’s also easier to align garments on a larger press. Some presses come with interchangeable platens which gives you much more flexibility.
Clam or swing away?
- A clam has a smaller footprint, when using a swing away you need to give space for the swing which on the bigger units can be quite significant
- A clam is typically less expensive than a swing away and less moving parts
- It is easier to see what is going on with a clam, if a garment has gone out of alignment you can do something about it
- Clam presses are typically more portable
- Swing aways different from a clam with the heating element lifting up parallel and swings completely out of the way.
- It is often stated that with a clam press to increase the chances of burned knuckles with the clam however with a swing away it is just as easy to get the fingers in the way. Quality clam presses open wide enough to reduce the chance of accidents.
- Swing aways are often more popular with DTG printers but you can also use a Clam
- Swings aways typically can be set to give more pressure than a clam, we have found that some transfer papers don’t work well on clams
- You can debate this but it really does come back to personal preference and budget. The simple answer is choose the press that suits your needs.
Budget – always choose a press with a lifetime heater warranty, with CE certification (real Certification (beware some of the cheap China imports are not made with high quality components and may not be actually certified compared to European / US presses). It’s better to buy the right equipment first time out rather than the cheapest – quality equipment is designed to last years with warranty backup if there is a problem. You will often find broken low quality heat presses lurking in the back of many print shops. If your business is reliant on the equipment then consider the impact of the heat press breaking.
If you have questions at all please contact us to discuss your requirements