The heat-press machine allows users to transfer custom designs onto accessories such as mugs, throw pillows, hats, and shirts. Even though hobbyists often use an ordinary household iron to complete small projects, it doesn’t always produce the best results. The heat-press machines on the other hand create a high-temperature finish over the entire piece. They have timers built in and heat settings that can be adjusted. You can use them to produce professional results on a variety of heat transfer applications.
Heat-press machines were once only used in commercial settings. These machines can now be used at home or in small businesses thanks to the availability of home die-cutting equipment. Consider these factors when choosing a heat press machine: consider these variables: the available printing area, type of application and material, temperature range, and manual versus automated.
Continue reading to find out how to select the right heat-press machine to suit your crafting needs.
Types Of Heat-Press Machines
Although they look similar, heat-press machines have different features that enable them to accomplish a specific task. Consider the various types of heat press machines before you purchase a machine. These are the basic types of heat press machines, sorted by their specialty and features.
The hinge between the upper and lower plates of a clamshell heat transfer machine opens and closes like a clam. This design is very popular with both professionals and beginners because it is easy to use and leaves a minimal footprint. This design style is ideal for printing designs on flat surfaces such as T-shirts, bags, and sweatshirts. The clamshell design is not recommended for transfer designs onto thick materials as it doesn’t evenly distribute pressure over the surface of the plate.
These machines are also called “swingers” and allow the top to move away from the bottom platen, allowing for more precise positioning. The swing-away press can work with thicker materials like ceramic tiles, hats, and mugs, unlike the clamshell press. This style does take up more space.
Draw or drawer heat-press machines have a lower platen that pulls toward the user as a drawer. This allows the user to lay out the garment and view the whole space. These machines allow the user to fix or reposition garments, graphics and before the transfer process. They also provide more space to lay out the garment. The machine takes up more space and is more costly than swing- and clamshell-style heat transfer.
Sublimation heat press machines transfer the high-quality digital design onto the material. Sublimation infuses ink onto the material and not just onto its surface. Sublimation designs are less likely to peel or fade. Sublimation heat-press machines can be expensive so the user will need to purchase a special sublimation ink.
Crafters who are interested in personalizing and experimenting with garments can use portable heat-press machines. These machines are small and lightweight and can be used to heat transfer vinyl (HTV), or dye-sublimation onto T-shirts, bags, and other items. Although it is more difficult to apply pressure to a portable machine, it is an easy and affordable way to get started in heat press transfers.
Multipurpose and Speciality
Multipurpose and specialty heat-press machines are available that allow users to create custom designs on hats, cups, or other non-flat surfaces. Machines that make mugs or caps designed for one single purpose, Such as a custom-made mug or hat company. Multipurpose machines often have attachments that can easily be replaced to handle flat items.
What You Need to Consider When Choosing the Best Heating-Press Machine
A heat-press iron is a commercial-grade iron that uses heat and pressure to attach a design to clothing. The material will determine the heat-press machine that is best for you. You should also consider your budget, portability, as well as efficiency. The right heat-press machine can be used to create a T-shirt, mug, or another custom-made item.
Sublimation VSTwo-Step Transfer
These are the two types of transfer:
- Two-step Transfers First print on heat paper or vinyl. The heat-press machine then transfers the design onto your chosen material.
- Sublimation Transfer involves printing the design with either sublimation ink, or onto sublimation papers. The ink becomes a gas when heated using a heat press. This embeds itself in the substrate.
Application and Material Pressed
A heat-press machine can be used for many transfer purposes, but a machine that is specifically designed for a specific purpose delivers better results. Swing-away, swing-away and Clamshell machines are best for printing on flat surfaces such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, etc. Multifunctional/multipurpose machines, on the other hand, have attachments that allow transfers to nonflat items. A specialty heat-press machine is best if the machine is used to make custom mugs.
Consider the material. To create intricate designs on items, a sublimation machine can be a great investment. Swing-away machines are ideal for thicker materials that have textured surfaces. They can apply pressure evenly across the material. For T-shirts or sweatshirts, clamshell machines are ideal.
The platen size of a heat-press machine determines the size and shape of the design. A larger platen provides greater flexibility. Flat items are typically measured in a standard platen size of 15 by 15 inches up to 16 by 20 inches.
You can order custom platens in many sizes and shapes to transfer designs onto shoes, bags, and cap bills. These plates are designed for multipurpose or specialty machines. They can be sized and shaped to suit the machine.
A durable heat transfer application requires accurate temperature. Consider the type of temperature gauge and maximum temperature that a heat press machine has when you are looking at it. Some applications may require heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
To ensure even heating, a quality heat press will have heating elements that are evenly spaced at no more than 2 inches. Thinner plates are more expensive, but they lose heat faster than thicker plates. Machines should have at least 3/4-inch thick platens. Even though thicker plates take longer to heat up, they retain temperature better.
Manual vs. Automatic
There are two types of heat presses: manual and automatic. The manual version requires physical force to open or close the press. An automatic model uses a timer to open or close it. There are also semi-automatic models that combine both of these.
Semi-automatic and automatic models are more suited to high-production environments, as they require less force and cause less fatigue. They are however more costly than manual units.
Our Top Picks
There are so many heat presses on the market that it can be difficult to choose the right one. To help with the selection process, The following list contains some top recommendations for heat presses at different price points and types.
1. Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press 15 x 15
Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press, a clamshell-style machine, is ideal for custom printing on shirts, bags, or any flat surface substrate. The machine has a 15×15-inch work area and a silicone pad that is nonstick. The heat press can be used for sublimation applications as it has a temperature range of 0 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
While clamshell heat presses may not be the best for thick materials, the Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press has an adjustable pressure system that can handle materials of different thicknesses. This heat-press machine is ideal for hobbyists as well as small businesses. It has a steel frame, dedicated timer, and heat controls.
Platen Size: 15×15 heat press
Temperature range: Up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Adjustable pressure
- Nonstick silicone pad surface
- Timer and electronic temperature control
- Small digital display
2. Cricut EasyPress 2
Cricut has been a market leader in low-cost heat-press and die-cut machines for hobbyists. Cricut EasyPress 2 offers all the benefits of an iron and an industrial-grade heat press at an affordable price. It has an insulated base and an automatic shutoff. It can heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit on the ceramic plate, making it suitable for sublimation transfer.
This lightweight, the portable machine can be carried easily thanks to its evenly distributed weight and flat surface. It allows the user to apply consistent pressure to the transfer. The Cricut EasyPress 2 is a great option for anyone who wants to experiment with heat transfer without spending a lot of money. It comes in three sizes and each one is the best affordable heat press machine.
Platen size: 9 by 9 inches
Temperature range: Up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Easy to lift and light
- Display and control via digital technology
- Available in multiple sizes and colors
- Cricut heat press: Best for Cricut machines
- Only suitable for small projects
3. Cricut EasyPress Mini
For customizing small items, such as shoes or hats, a full-size heat press is too large. Cricut EasyPress Mini can transfer heat transfer vinyl to small surfaces. This press has a ceramic plate that distributes heat evenly with three settings that can heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Safety features include an automatic shutoff and an insulated base.
For those who work with small items, a mini heat press is ideal. The heat press can reach sublimation transfer temperature, but it is not recommended to be used with Cricut Infusible Ink products.
Platen Size: 3.4 by 2.1 inches
Temperature range: Up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Easy to store and compact
- Heating evenly with adjustable precision heating
- It is simple to use
- Only suitable for small projects
4. PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital Heat Press
PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital Heat Press heavy-duty construction is built to last and can be used in both business and home. This clamshell-style heat press is ideal for creating T-shirts and other flat wallet materials in bulk. It features a silicone mat and a Teflon-coated heating pad measuring 15 by 15. It can also perform sublimation transfers and can reach temperatures of up to 455 degrees Fahrenheit.
This heat press features an LCD screen that allows you to digitally set the temperature and timer. It also has an adjustment knob that allows you to adjust the pressure on the panel. This allows for precise pressure control on different materials.
Platen Size: 15 by 15 inches
Temperature range: Up to 455 degrees Fahrenheit
- Teflon-coated heating plates
- Silicone mat that can be removed and washed
- Adjustable pressure knob
Also read: 8 Best Staplers for Office Work
5. VEVOR Heat Hat Press
This Vevor heat-press machine has a curved heating element that holds caps and hats, making it possible to transfer them to flat surfaces. The ergonomic foam parallel arm handles with a handle are also included. This minimizes obstruction and allows for full visibility of the LCD control panel.
The Vevor press can transfer various materials including heat transfer vinyl or inks. Despite being compact, the heat press is made of heavy-duty steel and makes it a great commercial-grade machine.
Platen Size: 5.5 by 3.5 inches
Temperature range: Up to 399 degrees Fahrenheit
- Parallel arm handle
- Touch-pad control and LCD display
- Gel grip made of ergonomic foam
- Only suitable for small caps and hats
6. Cricut Mug Press
The Cricut Infusible Ink technology is used to transfer designs onto ceramic mugs that have been coated with polyurethane. Cricut mug presses are different from traditional ones. The Cricut mug press uses innovative technology. It can sense the temperature of the surrounding environment and adjust the heat and pressure settings for a perfect transfer.
The mug press is expensive, but it makes it possible to make a microwave-safe, dishwasher- and microwave-safe cup with a glossy, smooth finish. This machine requires a Cricut cutting machine as well as Cricut’s Infusible ink. If you already have Cricut products, this mug press is best suited for you.
Platen Size: 6.2 by 6.5 inches
Temperature range: Up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit
- There are no heat or pressure settings to control
- Ambient temperature and automatic mug detection to optimize heat/pressure settings
- Auto shut down
- Requires Cricut cutting Machine and Cricut Infusible Ink are required
7. F2C 5 in 1 Pro Heat Press Machine
F2C 5 in 1 Pro multifunction heat press machine has many attachments that T-shirt press machine allows you to personalize mugs and pads as well as T-shirts. The multifunctional machine has a shirt press bed, cap pressing equipment, a cylindrical heating system for mugs, and circular heating disks to heat plates. You can use it with heat transfer vinyl or sublimation transfers.
The 360-degree swing-away design, which includes a digital controller, nonstick surface, and a detachable aluminum alloy tray, allows users to swap heat plates quickly. Essentially, it is an all-in-one machine. The F2C 5in1 Pro heat press is an excellent choice for DIY enthusiasts as well as professionals.
Type: Swing away
Platen size:12 by 15 inches
Temperature range: Up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit
- Teflon coating helps prevent blistering
- Multiple attachments
- Large printing area
- Full-range pressure-adjustment knob for even distribution
8. PowerPress HPM-0000-PK Heat Press Machine
For small projects, large commercial heat presses may not be the best choice. The PowerPress HPM000-PK Heat Press has 10-by-12-inch heating plates, as well as multiple safety features. It is easy to set up and use. The top heat plate has a touch screen that allows for temperature and time control. It can only reach 355 degrees Fahrenheit so it is not suitable for sublimation transfer.
A portable press is difficult to control because of its pressure. PowerPress has a pressure-regulating system that works with the heat-resistant mat. This allows the user to apply uniform pressure to the substrate. The PowerPress HPM000-PK is a great choice for beginners. It features simple controls, quick heating, and safety features.
Platen Size: 10 by 12 inches
Temperature range: Up to 355 degrees Fahrenheit
- Overheating is prevented by automatic shutoff
- Touch-screen control panel
- Pressure-regulating system
- The temperature required for sublimation transfer cannot be reached
Last Line — Best Heat Press Machine
The Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press can be used by hobbyists as well as small businesses. This is our top pick based on its price, versatility, ease of use, and affordability. The Cricut EasyPress 2 comes in three sizes and is perfect for anyone new to heat-press transfer.