So you want to take your business to the next level? We live in a day and age where wearing a personalized t-shirt has become the new norm. This trend is growing at an astounding pace. As a result, an increasing number of printing and graphics art companies are popping up on the market.
As a business that sells personalized t-shirts, you have two options when you want to add a unique design or image on a clothing item: screen printing or heat press. While both methods come with their own pros and cons, heat pressing is by far the best method.
Top 10 Heat Press Machine Reviews 2020
So how do I find the best heat press machine?
Now that you are well aware of the benefits of heat press versus screen printing, it is time to take a look at the top heat press machines available on the market in 2020. Out of this list, we will select a winner and crown it as the most innovative & beneficial heat press unit of the year.
A heat press is a large machine that uses heavy pressure combined with high temperatures in order to embed a unique design on a material. The effect is permanent. No iron in the world is able to reach the level of pressure or heat of a heat press, so you can rest assured that a personalized t-shirt created with one of these machines will never lose its design, color or shape.
Heat press machines are not messy, are easy to use, consume less time and allow for more intricate designs. On the other hand, screen printing is more expensive and offers not-so-satisfying results.
Aren’t you excited to discover the winner?
We sure are to reveal it to you! Read on to discover our buying guide and look favorite heat press machine and possibly even find your own!
This unique 12×15 unit is a heavy-duty, commercial-grade product that is extremely stable and can make a great companion for years to come.Read Our Review
Reasons you Need a Heat Press Machine
Every single graphic printing business would do well to have a heat press machine. With the right machinery, you can easily serve your base of customers and exceed their expectations in terms of quality and turnaround time. Without a heat press machine, it is impossible to fulfill your potential and grow your business.
Here are 7 quick reasons why you should upgrade to a heat press machine and give up that old screen printing machine:
- Easier to use: one of the biggest advantages of heat press machines over screen printing machines is that they are much easier to use. Even business owners with no previous experience in utilizing these machines can learn how to use them quickly & efficiently.
- Helps you save space: another huge benefit of using a heat press machine is that it takes less space than a standard screen printing machine. If you’ve always had the space problem in your shop, a modern heat printing unit could prove to be invaluable. You can literally place in on any desk or counter, right near your desktop, scanner or printer, and do your job easier and quicker than before.
- Cost-effective: as far as costs are concerned, a heat press machine could help you cut costs by up to 50%. As a graphic printing business, you can acquire one of these units for as little as $150. You can end up paying as much as $3,000 for a high-end model. Depending on the work volume, you can recoup your initial investment in as little as one week, especially if you have high margins. The great news is that heat press machines also yields extremely good margins for smaller orders, including hat prints or single prints.
- Fast: a heat press machine is much easier to use and works faster than any other graphic printing device available on the market. The speed with which your company can produce finished products is absolutely astounding. Each heat press machine is equipped with a unique control panel that enables you to streamline processes and increase the speed of work. Whether you have a series of small orders or a batch of large orders, a heat press machine is a right choice for you.
- Versatility: if you are one of those businesses that take orders for a wide range of materials, you will definitely appreciate the versatility offered by a heat press machine. These modern printing units enable you to print on a plethora of materials and garments, from satin and cotton to spandex, silk or even ceramics. Being equipped with a heat press machine enables you to accept a wide variety of printing orders, including tiles, mugs, clothes, hats, mousepads, ceramics, koozies and umbrellas. Furthermore, a heat press machine enables you to print on multiple parts of a clothing item. This allows you to achieve that wrap-around, over-the-shoulder print design people are so crazy about.
- Quality: another benefit of using heat press machines is the astounding quality you get. These units can help you print economically & quickly without sacrificing quality. As a matter of fact, some heat press machines showcased below offer a superior printing process than other technologies. Heat printing leaves a smooth image, with a high-quality graphic. On the other hand, graphic printing can result in a rough texture, especially if more than one color is used.
- Easy integration: and lastly, a heat press machine can be used in conjunction with several other printing techniques. For instance, the heat pressing technique works quite well with ink injection. You can easily apply colors by injecting them on the fabric, and then make them permanent by applying heat. Ultimately, a heat press is exceptional for sublimation, enabling you to add a protective gloss to ceramic tiles or other hard materials.
All Types of Heat Press Machines
How do you choose a type of heat press machine based on your unique needs?
Heat press machines, just like any other machinery out there, exist in a wide variety of models to cater to all the needs of customers. Even though they might look quite similar in appearance, it is important to be aware of the main differences between them.
Before you set out to purchase a heat press machine, you should be aware of the main types of heat presses available on the market.
Great. Let’s get to it!
Here are the 4 main types of heat press machines:
- Draw heat presses: draw presses will draw the platen towards you. Since the work surface is movable, you need to be extra careful not to touch the material before the transfer has taken place.
- Swing away press machines: this is the most common type of heat presses. The swingers will take the upper platen away, usually allowing for a rotation of 360 degrees
- Clamshell: clamshell heat presses are equipped with a hinge between the upper and lower platen that is similar to a clamshell. There can be manual or automatic clamshell machines.
- Sublimation machines: these units offer you the benefits of transferring the color in such a manner that the transfer paper will not touch other areas of the garment. Sublimation heat presses are normally used in multi-transfer operations.
How to Buy the Best Heat Press Machine
As you keep reading, you will discover that we have already selected a heat press machine that we believe is the best in 2020.
However, your unique needs might differ, so you’ll have to take a look at certain characteristics and features of heat press machines to discover which unit is good for you.
Here are a series of questions you should ask when looking to buy a heat press machine:
- Do I need a small or heavy unit, that can accommodate large printing needs?
- Do I have enough room for the size of the unit?
- Do I want to print only on t-shirts or I also want to create unique mugs, hats and other items?
- How much am I willing to pay for a heat press machine?
- Do I prefer a swing-away design or a draw design?
- Is design important for me? Do I need to fit the new unit into the overall décor of my shop?
- All extremely helpful questions? What else about buying heat press machines?
How to Use Heat Press Machines for T-shirt Printing
Using a heat press machine to print t-shirts is fairly easy once you do it for a few times. The basics are pretty much the same, with just a few variations depending on the graphic you want to transfer on the t-shirt.Sounds easy enough!
Here is the process:
- Prepare the transfer paper: choose the type of transfer you want. You can choose from ink jet transfers, laser transfers, pre-printed transfers and die cut vinyl lettering
- Print the transfer on paper and trim it down if needed
- Set up the heat press: open up the lid, adjust the temperature & pressure, set the timer and select your favorite program (if applicable)
- Put the shirt between the platens, close the press and press the start button
A heat press machine with printer comes extremely useful here, as it allows you to use a pre-set model or to transfer the model from your computer to the heat press instantly.
How Does a Heat Press Machine Work?
It’s easier than you’ve thought!
A heat press machine is not as complex as it might look like. This unit operates at an exceptionally high speed to print an image or pattern on another surface, be it a garment, cup, hat, license plate, mouse pad or ceramic tile.
When the start button is pressed, the machine applies a significant amount of pressure on the board. The image is printed using the heat of up to 750 Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the design on the item will never vanish, even if you wash it.
Nothing complicated here, isn’t it?
Install Temperature and Time Range
When using a heat press machine, the temperature and time are crucial. Standard transfers require a temperature of between 360 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of around 40 to 80 psi. As a rule of thumb, t-shirts require around 400 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of 70 psi, while cups need at least 430 degrees in temperature and 60 psi.What else about time & temperature?
Now, we recommend you to make your own tests in order to discover the ideal temperature and pressure range. As for time, each item needs around 10-15 minutes for the transfer to be completed. If you have hundreds of orders a week on the same item, try to experiment on that item with various temperature degrees and time ranges, in order to discover the perfect combination.
Being safe is crucial when using a heat press machine!
Indeed, nothing compares to having the peace of mind that you are safe. No one wants to touch a platen heated at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or accidentally feel the 80 psi pressure. The good news is that most heat press units are UL listen, so you should not worry that your new heat press machine might catch fire.
- However, if you’re planning to use the heat press continuously, you are safer by calling an electrician to install a new circuit.
- Never try to install a breaker all by yourself, but always call an experienced electrician. You can ask him to add a couple new circuits in order to take the load off the circuits you are already using.
- Do not use an extension cord on a heat press machine, unless you are rarely using it and it is a small one. The extra burden might destroy the circuits.
Other great advice?
Ultimately, never touch the press while it is hot and always take care where your hands are located. Use gloves if necessary for extra protection.
There are 3 levels of heat press units you can purchase today: machines for beginners, intermediate users or professionals. Each one of these device caters to the needs of a specific group of people.
For example, while the Hotronix Fusion is clearly a perfect choice for advanced users, the Mophorn Heat Press 12×10 is suitable for beginners.
Heat presses for professionals contain more features, are better at streamlining processes and are usually more expensive than a unit with a beginner or intermediate level.
Which Heat Press is the Right One for you?
Now we’ve finally reached the core of the issue!
So what is important for you is to decide which heat press is the right option for you.
For starters, think of what you need – a heat press for just t-shirts or a complex 5-in-1 or 8-in-1 heat press machine that allows you to print on mugs, caps and many other items?
Is a sublimation heat press machine 3d suitable for you, or can you stick with a simple t-shirt heat printing unit?
Second, take a look at the size. Larger presses are 16 x 20 and allow for an easier work and better designs, while smaller presses are 6 x 8 or 9 x 12 and are only suitable for small garments, jigsaw puzzles, mouse pads and ceramic tiles.
You should also look at the features & benefits offered by each heat press machine in order to decide if it’s a good choice for you. Ultimately, consider your product line once more and ensure that you are buying a heat press that allows you to design onto what you sell. For example, if your orders are comprised mainly of cups & mugs, you definitely need to purchase a heat press machine for cups.
Size & Design
What is there to consider these criteria?For most graphic printing businesses out there, design is not important at all. They just want a product that works seamlessly. However, we recommend you to get a unit that complements your shop’s unique design in order to leave a long-lasting impression in the minds of your customers.
For example, the Promo Heat Press Machine PRO-3804X is a great example of a gorgeous heat press machine that can boost the appeal of your shop.
As for size, you need to choose a heat press that fits in your shop. If you have plenty of room and you also have commercial or industrial needs, do not hesitate to invest in a unit that can help you fulfill all orders. If you have limited needs and you have random orders, buy a smaller unit, regardless of the space you have in your shop.
Maintain your heat press machine for an extended lifespan.
Do not forget, if you take care of your new heat press machine, it will also take care of your business. Usually, a heat press machine recoups its investment in a few weeks. After that, you get profit.
The first thing you need to do is to keep the upper platen sparkling clean. A smooth, clean surface is key to successful heat printing. To start, power off the unit, let it cool down and wipe it clean with a soft cloth filled with mineral spirits.
Another thing you can do is to protect the upper Teflon coating by avoiding placing buttons, zippers and anything else with sharp edges on it.
A good warranty ensures that your investment is safe. If you are a heavy user, aim for a warranty of minimum 1 year. Most manufacturers offer one-year standard warranty but note that some only offer 6 months. So always contact the manufacturer before placing an order in order to discover if the warranty you will get is satisfactory.
Probably the best unit when it comes to warranty is the Hotronix Fusion. With 5 years of warranty, no one beats this professional heat press machine.
For sure. All you need to do is to put a new Teflon sheet after you have done one side
No, you can easily heat press a t-shirt or any other type of garment without having to wash it
Depending on the wattage. A 1000W unit that works 3 hours a day does not consume too much power. It consumes the same power as a washing machine. On the other hand, a 1800W unit that functions for 10 hours requires two extra electrical fuses and an enhanced circuit.
What is your favorite heat press machine? Here is ours:
When it comes to choosing the best heat press machine out of dozens of units, we took into account several criteria.
- How famous the manufacturing company is
- Type of machine: clamshell machines are some of the best
- Innovative features: digital LCD control, ability to choose the temperature, pressure and time
- Dimensions: lightweight and small units are preferred over larger ones
- Extras: parallel arm handle, spring &pressure system
- Positive reviews
Considering all of the above factors, we decided to crown the Promo Heat Press Machine PRO-3804X as the most innovative heat press machine of 2019. We believe that this unit offers the best of all worlds, being suitable for both beginners and advanced users. Its astounding design can dramatically increase the appeal of your business among potential customers and can help you leave quite an impression.
Of course, we also have to offer a honorable mention to Hotronix Fusion, which is an exquisite heat press machine for large commercial or industrial use. However, its high price makes it unappealing to small and medium graphic printing businesses.