Heat presses are a great addition to any shop. They can do so much more than just heat press transfers. A heat press can flash and even cure garments, handle foil, and so much more. Having a heat press in a shop is a no-brainer. But which one should you invest in? Buckle up, we’re about to find out.
WHY DO I WANT A HEAT PRESS?
There’s a reason having a heat press around can be a great tool for your shop. Obviously, you can decorate garments with vinyl or plastisol heat transfers using a heat press. If you have customers who want a few shirts over a long period of time, having a heat press is a great option. Just create the transfer and save it until that order comes around again.
Did you know you can cure ink with a heat press? It’s true. In fact, a heat press can cure both plastisol and water-based inks. It’s also the best method of curing if you’re printing at a live event because wind conditions won’t affect the final cure, as they would with a flash unit.
The heat press provides a stable heat source. It gives a readout of any temperature fluctuation while you're using it. If a shop is already printing vinyl, a heat press will be an excellent, multi-use tool.
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HEAT PRESS OPTIONS
When shopping for a heat press, finding the perfect one comes down to what you want to do with it. Do you want to decorate standard garments or use a heat press to cure them? There are plenty of standard options out there. Want to get into specialized decorating, like mugs and hats? There are options for these items too. Let’s talk about both types of heat presses.
STANDARD HEAT PRESSES
The standard heat press contains a platen that is the size of a standard platen. Most heat press platens are 16” X 20”, which is plenty of space for screen printers to heat press designs on standard garments.
Heat presses come in clamshell, draw press, or swing-away press designs. A clamshell press is held open and clamps down on the garment. A draw press means that printers can pull the heat platen out from the heating element, and swing-away heat presses allow the heat platen to swing out from the heating element.
Pro Tip: Don’t want to run the risk of burning yourself while loading or adjusting shirts? Invest in a draw press or swing-away press. It’ll allow you to move the heating element away from you while you’re handling garments.
No matter which heat press you opt for, you’ll probably be buying it from two main companies: Stahls and George Knight. Stahls (which also covers Hotronix) heat presses are great for everyday shop use, while George Knight heat presses are a bit more industrial. Both are great options and provide even, steady heat with plenty of support.
So how do you choose which company to buy from? It all depends on your price point and experience. For beginning garment decorators, the Stahls EASY™ Brand Craft Heat Press is a great starting point. It’s economical while still providing a great method of garment decoration and curing.
Looking for something with more customization? Heat for deeper waters and invest in a heat press that will work hard in your shop. The top end of heat presses? The Hotronix® Dual Air Fusion IQ® Heat Press. This heat transfer machine provides the functionality of two Air Fusion IQ® heat presses with smooth, effortless operation controlled by the push of a button and tap of a foot pedal. The upper platen moves between heat printing stations, allowing operators to prepare garments on one station while the other is being pressed.
Double your heat printing capacity and make the most of your valuable time. The Dual Air Fusion IQ® comes standard with a Laser Alignment System for fast, accurate, and high-level custom apparel production on every order. It’s a beast for printers looking to do the most with their heat press.
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There are tons of standard heat presses to choose from. But for garment decorators looking to find their niche or expand beyond t–shirts, and hoodies, a specialized heat press will elevate their shop.
SPECIALIZED HEAT PRESSES
Want to decorate hats? Mugs? There’s a heat press for those too. A hat press fits the mold of the front of a hat, so you can press a transfer right onto the hat itself. Hat presses also work great for heat-pressing neck labels. Simply lay the neck area on the hat press heat platen and heat press. You won’t need to worry about the rest of the shirt getting in the way.
A mug press works for all standard cylindrical items and is great for sublimation or classic heat transfers. This niche heat press is perfect for printers looking to expand past standard garment decorating. Printers can offer more than just t-shirts and create an entire brand.
Get the most out of any screen print shop with a heat press. Find your decoration niche with a specialized heat press or use a standard heat press to diversify your options.