Best Heat Press Machines

Developing stunning imprints was once a highly expensive and challenging process. Those days are long gone, and now it has never been more straightforward with the wonder of modern-day heat press machines. What was once a niche market is now one of the fastest-growing businesses on earth.

There are thousands of businesses using a heat press as the core of their marketplace. Additionally, countless families are purchasing them for home use as well. Whether you are a budding enterprise looking for the next big move, or a family on the hunt for a great machine for creating lasting memories, the heat press is an excellent option.

Services

Digital Practical

Controller

The controller has a marvelous and gorgeous appearance, featuring the digital display and button. You only need to press one time to realize a simple & quick operation.

VEVOR Heat Press 12X15

Adjustable spring plate can be replaced with different accessories, such as mug press,

VEVOR Portable Heat Press

Only a bit of warmth can be felt on the surface, even after working 2 hours under the temperature of 200 ℃.

Heat Press Machine 5 in

This 5 in 1 heat press printer with varieties of fittings, including one platen press

VEVOR CNC 3018

GRBL Control Board Laser engravers for wood and metal can be connected to a computer via a USB interface. It can output 2P / 3P

VEVOR Heat Press 12X15

This 12 x 15 heat press adopts the latest two-layer insulation technology to improve the transfer performance. With reliable motherboards & an accurate temperature control device, the stability has also been further enhanced. All the accessories will be provided to bring you the beautiful graphics on T-shirts, hats, plates, cups, etc.

The controller has a marvelous and gorgeous appearance, featuring the digital display and button. You only need to press one time to realize a simple & quick operation.

more effort-saving and smooth under the same pressure, making it more comfortable to hold

Heat Press Machine 5 in

This upgraded heat press machine has refined appearance and powerful performance. It adopts the latest double-tube heating technology and four-layer insulation technology to improve the transfer performance. Equipped with the strong dual motherboards and accurate temperature control device, the stability has also been further improved. 

Double-tube heating design ensures the heating more uniform and the better transfer quality. Compared with the single tube heating, the temperature difference is only about 5℃ between the center and the edge.

Dual motherboard design, strong and weak electrical separation. Two thyristors are used for temperature control with an accuracy of less than 5 ℃. In accordance with UL safety standards, circuit relay fuse control is set.

VEVOR Portable Heat Press

The portable t shirt heat press machine is ideal for home use. Advanced sensitive touch screen and particular vibration function significantly improve the quality of the transfer. You can use dozens of materials with your easy press mini, including heat press vinyl, glitter, transfer paper, flock, and so on.

Highly–sensitive touch screen ensures the precise temperature control up to 200 ℃ in a short time. Adopt user-friendly layout, easy to operate, digital display, intuitive and clear.

Advanced dual-tube heating makes the heating more uniform than the single-tube shirt press machines. Only a bit of warmth can be felt on the surface, even after working 2 hours under the temperature of 200 ℃.

VEVOR CNC 3018

This CNC engraving machine features a USB port, GRBL control board, and an offline controller, able to be controlled easily with/without computers. The mini laser engraver is an affordable self-learning engraving tool!

As a laser cutter and engraver machine, it can engrave or grind all types of plastics, soft aluminum, wood, acrylic, PVC, and many other soft materials.

The 3018 CNC laser engraving machine is made of aluminum and bakelite materials with high precision and durability. Two 5mm acrylic baffles on each side of the milling machine help you monitor the engraving process safely.

Three axes allow for flat engraving. The active engraving area of the CNC router machine is 300 x 180 x 45 mm (11.8 x 7.1 x 1.8 inches), which can comfortably accommodate most items.

WHAT IS A HEAT PRESS MACHINE?

Heat press machines use a combination of heat and pressure (obviously) to apply designs or transfers to a wide variety of printed media. They can be used to apply pre-made or custom designs to many items, from hats to T-shirts, mouse pads to tote bags and everything in between.

These designs are developed on a computer and then printed onto an array of material options for transfer, with different effects. Some of the transfer options include:

  • Vinyl
  • Sublimation paper
  • Ink transfer paper
  • Plastisol

A heat transfer machine is used by printing professionals, but also by small business owners who have an involvement in their own creative and promotions. Additionally, families looking to create wonderful gifts or solid memorabilia for events can use heat pressing to make their dreams a reality.

HEAT PRESS MACHINE CATEGORIES AND TYPES

There are three main categories of heat press machine commonly manufactured: Swing Away, Draw, and Clamshell. There are also two methods of use for these types of device: Manual and Automatic (although there are some semi-automatic machines as well). You may have noticed our identification of these in the “Style” line below the heat presses suggested above.

SWING AWAY HEAT PRESS MACHINES

Ideal for: maximum efficiency

Swing away (or swinger) heat presses consist of upper plates that swing to one side or the other, with a lower plate underneath.

One of the advantages to swing away heat presses are their ability to provide direct access to lower plates. With this access, users can lay their material out for the transfer process without the safety hazards present in the superheated top plate.

A potential disadvantage to these types of machines is that you are going to need a slightly larger footprint to allow for the top arm to swing correctly. However, access with far greater convenience increases the productivity and efficiency of overall production.

DRAW HEAT PRESS MACHINES

Ideal for: those looking for greater customization

Heat presses in the “draw” style have lower plates that can be pulled out, or drawn, similar to a silverware drawer or keyboard shelf on a desk.

Much like the swing away style above, draw heat transfer machines provide the user with direct access to the work platform. This is done without the need to reach underneath heated plates, risking burns, and severe injury.

Unlike other styles of heat press, with draw style presses, the working surface, not the upper plate, is the moving piece. What this means is that you will need to take extreme care in positioning to ensure it does not move under the heat.

CLAMSHELL HEAT PRESS MACHINES

Ideal for: beginners and budget buyers

Clamshell-style t-shirt presses have strong hinges between the upper and lower plates. This allows the press to open like a clam. For operation, the user needs to lower the top plate onto the bottom plate, and then apply pressure.

These heat press options are the best choices for those just starting and are the most common heat press styles available. They are ideal for the creation of vinyl pressed T-shirts and clothing items. However, they may not be the best choice for thicker pieces. This is due to restricted opening sizes between the two plates.

Additionally, it is essential to avoid touching either of the heated plates when you are positioning your items for transfer onto the clamshell-style heat press machine.

COMPARING MANUAL, AUTOMATIC AND SEMI-AUTOMATIC TYPES

There are three different types of heat press machines: manual, automatic, and semi-automatic (sometimes referred to as auto-release). Manual tools will generally have buttons or knobs for setting pressure and temperature. At times, they also have a timer, although this is brand-dependent.

Conversely, automatic heat presses are just that: fully automated. All of the main processes that take place in a pressing are programmable. There are also semi-automatic versions, where some of the process aspects are automated, and others are manual. Below are some of the main differences between the types.

MANUAL TYPES

Manual heat presses are found in the clamshell and swing away styles, not the draw style. As an operator, you need to know how to open and close the press on your own safely. Also, you are going to have to set the time and pressure on the machine.

SEMI-AUTOMATIC TYPES

Semi-automatic heat presses work on an auto-release and only come in clamshell styles. Users need to close the press themselves to start the heat transfer process. However, after a workpiece is complete, it will be released and opened automatically, based on a programmed timer.

AUTOMATIC TYPES

Fully automatic heat presses can sometimes be known as “vacuum presses” or “hydraulic presses.” These can be found in all three styles. These presses control timing and heat with precision to ensure that prints are as perfect as possible every time. This comes at a far higher price point, though.

Automatic heat presses utilize air pressure in determining the amount of force needed, and then programmable timers release the workpiece after completed. Unless you are a highly experienced heat press operator, you’ll be “hard pressed” to John Henry this one and be faster than an automatic machine.

SHOULD YOU BUY A T-SHIRT HEAT PRESS MACHINE OR A SCREEN PRINTING MACHINE?

If you’re thinking about starting a business making custom-printed apparel, having the right tools is essential. Of course, the most important tool creating graphic printed clothing is the device that will transfer the designs.

Heat pressing and silk screen printing are the two most common methods used for applying printed designs on textiles. While both methods yield relatively similar results, the process involved is quite different. The option you choose can have a big impact on your bottom line and the overall success of your business.

So, which should you choose: heat pressing or silk screening? If you want your business to be as lucrative as possible, the former is definitely the way to go. Why? – Read on to find out.

HEAT PRESSING VS SCREEN PRINTING

Both heat pressing and screen printing are used to create images on substrates, and both methods can produce amazing results; however, the two processes differ greatly. Below, we outline the process involved with each method so you can gain a better understanding of why using a heat press machine is a better option than screen printing for the overall success of your graphic garment production business.

HEAT PRESSING

The process of heat pressing involves using a heat press machine, which applies graphic images and designs to substrates using both heat and pressure.

With heat pressing, a design is either printed on heat transfer paper or cut out of heat transfer vinyl with a vinyl cutter machine. The design is then pressed into a medium – T-shirts, tote bags, baseball caps, etc – with a heat press machine. Of all the different methods used to create graphic printed items – including screen printing – the heat press machine is the preferred method for business owners. Why? – Because it’s easier and yields faster results than screen printing; plus, the creative options are virtually limitless. A heat press machine can be used to apply images and designs onto a wide-variety of substrates, and there’s no limit to the type of designs that can be created.

SILK SCREEN PRINTING

With silk screen printing, a design is cut into mesh screens, and the screens serve as stencils. The screens are laid onto a substrate – a T-shirt, for example – and then ink is spread over the top of the screen. The ink passes through the screen to the item underneath it, imprinting the stencil onto the item.

While screen printing can produce incredible graphic images, the process is limiting. For example, only a single color can be applied to one screen, so if you want to create a print with several colors, you’ll need to use several screens. Obviously, it’s more cumbersome and takes a lot more time. It can also become quite expensive. Furthermore, the design options are limited to the images that can be cut into the screens and cutting screens into stencils can be a difficult process. Lastly, while silk screening can be used to apply designs to various mediums, it can be used to create designs on as many substrates as heat pressing can.

WHICH IS BETTER?

While heat pressing and screen printing can produce incredible results, if you’re looking to turn out products as quickly as possible and you want to invest the lowest amount of money possible, the heat press machine is a better option than a screen printing machine. Because it’s easier to use, less complex, the design options are virtually limitless, less cost prohibitive, and you can produce large quantities at a faster rate, you’ll see a better return on investment for your business when you invest in a heat press machine.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING A HEAT PRESS MACHINE

Deciding to pull the trigger on the purchase of a heat press machine is not something that should be taken lightly. On the contrary, whether you are buying a product for use in your business or department, or merely a few quick T-shirts for an upcoming family reunion or vacation, it’s crucial to get the right tool for the job.

Some of the most important considerations that should be taken into account when researching heat press machine reviews are:

  • Size of the machine
  • Intended use
  • Materials being pressed
  • Type of device needed
  • Estimated volume of production
  • Budgetary constraints

Let’s dig into each of these and tease out the vital aspects of each factor to assist in final decision making.

SIZE OF THE MACHINE

The size of the best heat press machines will depend on two factors:

  1. The products that you are printing
  2. The space you have available for printing

As we have mentioned, both the draw press and the swing away press require far more room for operation than clamshell heat presses. Of course, there is also the footprint for the heat press itself. A larger press is going to need far more space than a smaller one.

But, larger presses allow users to press more substantial items, like bedding, bags, and towels. If you only want to print smaller pieces, or if your space is minimal, smaller heat presses might be the ideal choice to exceed your needs.

INTENDED USE

What are you going to be using your heat press for? Personal reasons, or perhaps business-related purposes? If you plan to use your device for business, it is likely you will need dedicated space and want to have the most effective transfer process based on your proposed purchasing budget.

Conversely, if you are using your heat press for hobby-related purposes or small projects here and there, you will likely be on the hunt for a smaller, more portable machine. Something that can easily be stowed away on a shelf somewhere when not being used.

MATERIALS BEING PRESSED

You are going to need to utilize an array of pressure levels and temperatures depending on the transfer type and media type being printed upon. As such, it is essential to do plenty of upfront research to have a strong concept of which heat presses achieve the results on the workpieces you want to press.

If you are confused, find suppliers in your area and online to get a deeper understanding of the different types of transfers and how the materials being pressed relate to them.

TYPE OF MACHINE NEEDED

The type of machine you are going to need is dependent on many things. While many heat presses will say that they can handle many types of material, some have been manufactured to treat some types of product better than others.

The highest-value heat presses are going to be those that are mainly set up to press ink, vinyl, and plastisol. Sublimation printers are likely going to be needed to print on items such as coffee mugs and plates.

If you have a vast number of items that you’re looking to press, some products, such as the standard “five in one” machine, comes with everything you need to do not only ink and vinyl heat presses, but also sublimation prints on things such as hats, mugs, plates and more.

ESTIMATED VOLUME OF PRODUCTION

Are you wanting a heat press machine that is capable of producing a large number of printed shirts in an hour or so? Or maybe instead you want one you can use for a few products every once in a while?

Regardless, the larger the work volume, the more robust and high-quality your machine needs to be to accommodate. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s pretty much a rule of thumb for any piece of equipment being purchased, regardless of the niche.

At the same time, it is crucial to remember that quality comes at an increase in cost. If you want an industrial-level heat press, expect to pay quite a bit more. However, you will also benefit from a far most heavy-duty piece of machinery, with stronger efficiency for heating, and some advanced features like temperature controls and automatic timers.

Alternatively, those looking for a quick fix machine for smaller numbers of items will do just fine with one of the smaller, more affordable heat presses on the market.

BUDGETARY CONSTRAINTS

Remember, you get what you pay for. This does not in any way mean that you need to run out and purchase the most expensive heat press you can find. The amount you spend on your heat press machine also should depend on the volume of product, the temperature ranges required, and if you prefer manual or automatic.

The costs vary wildly, from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand. That’s why it’s vital to ensure you do your due diligence before making a purchase.

Product reviews like ours provide great insight into the advantages and disadvantages of each machine, in addition to providing suggestions for the best applications of each one. In the end, these guides provide the knowledge necessary to make the best purchasing decision based on your budget.

IMPORTANT FEATURES FOR PURCHASE DECISIONS

There are plenty of features that are important in a heat press. Some of them include the machine’s durability, versatility, portability, and temperature.

REGARDING DURABILITY

Are you looking for a heat press that you’ll use occasionally?

Or maybe you want a press that you can use again and again?

If you’re on the hunt for a press that will handle a smaller volume or heat transfer vinyl and nothing else, lighter, hobby-focused presses will be ideal for your individual needs.

Alternatively, if you need to produce medium to high volumes of heat transfers, you are going to want a far more durable machine built to handle higher volume work.

REGARDING VERSATILITY

Are you focused on sublimation style prints?

If so, is that the only thing you plan on doing with your machine?

If this is the case, fantastic, set your eyes on a heat press that is geared specifically for that type of work.

However, if you’re not decided on what you want out of your press, you may want to consider some of the “five in one” style presses that are adaptable to multiple types of materials and media.

REGARDING PORTABILITY

Do you need to move your heat press around with ease?

Will this press have a permanent spot in your business or home?

More extensive models of heat presses can be extremely cumbersome, with heavy-duty materials. It’s essential to consider the portability factor when making a purchase decision. Remember, bigger is not always better.

Otherwise, you are aren’t expecting to need to move your machine, and you’re looking for the flexibility to print on a wide range of items, larger presses are fantastic, feature-rich options.

REGARDING TEMPERATURE

Do you want to stand out from other vendors with high-quality heat vinyl transfers?

Maybe instead you prefer the ease of use that comes along with ink transfers?

The possible range of temperatures is a smart consideration when you are looking to purchase your heat press. It will be a determining factor in the heat transfer vinyl products that can be used. The expense is too high to be left in the dark.

A NOTE ON HEAT PRESS SAFETY

Heat transfer machines are surprisingly safe to use. However, much like all electrical appliances and items that produce heat, some things need to be known before pressing away.

It should be a given that small children and your furry friends should stay away from the super heated plates. You should also take care not to put any part of your own body on or near the heated plates, as severe burns can and will occur.

If you purchase a machine secondhand, and the machine is quite a bit older, note that older heat presses tend to utilize a lot of power in the heating up process. This power drain can potentially affect other electronics in your household. This is why we always recommend buying new. Newer, more modern equipment is far more energy efficient and far less of a potential fire or electrical hazard. Remember, technology advances happen quickly. Similar to buying the best screen printing machine, you’re going to want to make sure you have a newer heat press machine.

HEAT PRESS REVIEW CONCLUSION

Finding the best heat press is no easy task. Hopefully this comprehensive guide, suggestions, and cautions will provide a strong foundation for your research before making a purchasing decision. Heat presses may seem like a no-frills item (heat up plates, press down, lift up, repeat), but when you get granular and into the nuances of each type of machine, things can quickly become confusing.

Knowing ahead of time what you’re getting into before making a final decision on a heat press can make or break your experience. We here at Big Time Shirt exist to try and make that knowledge more accessible with our overviews and heat press reviews. Happy pressing!

 

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