If you’re not exactly new in the world of crafting, or to be more specific, the T-shirt designing business, then you might’ve heard a thing or two about some things called heat press machines. These contraptions are here to make your job easier by letting you imprint the designs you’ve worked on straight onto various pieces of fabric.
Most of the time, the surface you’re going to find yourself working on when it comes to heat press machines is fabric, whether you’re imprinting a T-shirt, a tote bag, or a tablecloth with your awesome designs.
On the off chance that you have no previous experience with anything remotely related to t-shirt design, things are not that complicated. You use a cutting machine to create and cut your design to the exact size you need, and then you use the heat press machine to transfer the design to the fabric.
However, much like with cutting machines, there are a lot of heat press machines that you can buy and use in your business, so if you don’t know exactly what you should be looking for, things might get confusing very quickly.
But not to worry! We’ve compiled a list of heat press machines that will help you kickstart your t-shirt designing business in no time. Aside from the names of the machines, we’ve also included a list of each machine’s strong points and weak points, so that you can make an educated decision.
What Are Heat Press Machines?
A heat press is a machine that does exactly what it sounds like: it uses heat and pressure to imprint a design on a surface such as a t-shirt, a tote bag, a jacket, or any other supported material.
A while back, people who were getting into the t-shirt business were relying on a simple household appliance to transfer designs to fabric: the iron. However, the problem with this appliance is that there’s little to no control over the heat transfer process.
As a result, the fabric or the design were oftentimes impacted by the lack of precision that this rudimentary heat transfer process entailed. Heat press machines are nowadays sophisticated contraptions with temperature control that take all the guesswork from the design transfer process.
With most of the machines, all you have to do is select a temperature, wait for the machine to be preheated, and then press your design onto the surface of your choice. Depending on the model you chose, it’s possible that the machine could tell you when to stop pressing in order to preserve the print quality.
Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that some heat press machines are engineered in such a manner that you can use them to transfer your designs on surfaces other than fabric, including puzzles, caps, plates, and mugs, which give you plenty of elbow room as far as turning a profit from your business goes.
Now that we’ve learned what heat presses are and understand a bit more about the way they work, we can move on and tell you what are the best heat press machines you could buy and use to expand your crafting business.
The Best Heat Press Machines in 2021
1. Fancierstudio Power Heat Press – The Best Heat Press Machine
If you just go ahead and look up heat press machines, there’s a very high chance you’ll stumble upon the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press, given as it’s regarded by numerous users as being simply the best one out there.
Now that’s not to say that this machine is absolutely flawless, because it does have a few drawbacks, much like every other machine you could find on the market, whether it’s a heat press, cutter, plotter, or lettering machine.
However, the general consensus is that the pros heavily outweigh the cons, so that you won’t feel like you’re compromising on vital features, which is very important when you’re about to invest in any piece of equipment for your crafting business.
We don’t want to start on a bad note, so we’ll focus on the positive aspects of owning the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press. First of all, it’s a sturdy piece of equipment, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking or putting too much pressure on it and ruin the design or the surface you want to transfer it on.
Moving on to a bit more technical side, the machine is equipped with a 15 x 15 inches heating plate, which is plenty enough if you just want to start a t-shirt design business and need a trustworthy heat transfer machine that’s up for the job. What’s more, you can also use it for tote bags if you feel like it.
However, that’s not the only parameter you should be judging by if you’re looking for a solid heat press machine. The heating-up time is also an important perk that you’ll want to look after, as it makes sense that a machine that heats up faster is more valuable than one that takes a lot to become operational.
Fancierstudio Power Heat Press can and does heat up its plate very quickly, so you’ll be imprinting your favorite designs on t-shirts and bags in no time. Furthermore, it’s also worth mentioning that unboxing and getting the machine operational (for the first time) can be tackled in less than 10 minutes, which is nothing short of impressive.
The Fancierstudio Power Heat Press is highly intuitive, so as long as you remember that it’s not a toy and that it is, in fact, a machine that resembles a more specific clothing iron that gets extremely hot, you should be able to operate it without significant effort, even if you’re a complete novice.
Although we didn’t have the time to stress test the machine, the general consensus is that the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press can be easily placed in the ‘heavy-duty’ category of heat press machines, with some users reporting to have been using it for more than a couple thousand t-shirts and bags, and still being able to use it without a hiccup.
Additionally, the temperature on the heating surface is even, so you won’t have to worry about burning holes through your designs or ruining the t-shirts or bags you’re about to personalize with your designs.
It’s worth mentioning that, unlike some other heat presses we’ve included in our ranking, the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press has a clamshell design, which means that it has two components and you must put the fabric you want to imprint your design on between them.
While this eliminates the need for a steady, flat surface in order to transfer your designs flawlessly, it also means that once the imprinting is ready, you’ll have to exercise a bit of strength to lift the surface up after everything is done.
Needless to say, since the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press has a component that can quickly heat up to a few hundred degrees, you should expect it to generate quite a little heat in the space that you’re working in. You can easily overcome this minor inconvenience by placing the machine in a well-ventilated area.
Furthermore, you may notice that it gives a specific scent when you’re operating it for the first few times. However, this smell goes away if you just keep using the machine. Either that or you get really used to it, but we’re inclined to go with the former.
One other thing that some users complain about is that the machine is quite heavy. While not a problem on its own, if you try to move it around, you could end up scratching the surface on which the machine resides, so we suggest you use some surface protections or refrain from moving Fancierstudio Power Heat Press around too much.
Although the machine is quite intuitive to use, you may have to turn to the instructions manual every now and then, and some users complain about never receiving the manual. While this sounds like quite an inconvenience, you can find a lot of online resources on how to operate Fancierstudio Power Heat Press flawlessly.
The bottom line is that there are a few good reasons why the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press took first place in our list, and those are its intuitiveness, reliability, sturdiness, and overall effectiveness. Not to mention that it’s very affordable considering that heat press machines are generally expensive.
Fancierstudio Power Heat Press Pros
- Affordable, at least compared to other similar products on the market
- Intuitive enough to be operated even by novices
- A heavy-duty machine that reportedly works well even after a couple of thousand heat transfers
- Even temperature so that you won’t burn your designs or t-shirts while using it
- Generous 15 x 15 inches heated surface that lets you transfer designs on t-shirts and even bags
- Easy to assemble and get it started in approximately 10 minutes
Fancierstudio Power Heat Press Cons
- Generates quite some heat, especially in poorly ventilated places
- Its size and weight make it easy to scratch surfaces if you’re not careful enough
- Factory scent that goes away after using it a few times
- Some users reported that their instruction manuals were missing
If you’re set in your ways and you think that vinyl is the absolute best when it comes to cutting and imprinting designs on your surfaces, then you might want to get more specific with your heat press machine, as well. Namely, you might want a machine that works best with vinyl as opposed to going for one that’s more versatile and can handle more materials.
That being said, if you’re looking for the absolute best heat press machine for vinyl, then PowerPress Industrial Heat Press is definitely what you need for your business.
One thing that’s immediately worth mentioning is that PowerPress has impressive customer support, with many user reviews mentioning how they were able to fix a wide variety of issues through tech support without delay, and some of them even on holidays.
If you’re running a business and t-shirt designing is more than just a hobby that you dedicate a few hours during the weekend, then you’ll want to take the customer support factor into consideration since there’s a chance that you may be hitting a brick wall every now and then.
This doesn’t mean at all that the machine is not trustworthy in any way, it’s just that every piece of technology that’s on the market can malfunction at a certain point, and you’ll definitely want to be prepared if that ever happens while you’re using the PowerPress Industrial Heat Press.
This heat press is very intuitive, meaning that you’ll be able to unpack it and start using it right away without spending a lot of time trying to understand what it does or how to operate its levers and buttons.
Much like the number 1 contender on our list, the PowerPress Industrial Heat Press also comes with a clamshell design, so that there’s no need to press your fabric against a different surface to ensure that your prints won’t be crooked.
You just put the fabric in the machine, close it, and wait for the recommended amount of time for the design to be imprinted on the surface that you chose. The bad news is that clamshell heat press machines are generally more difficult to open once the transfer is done, so you might need to give it a hefty pull to open it.
The speed of the heat press is great, seeing as it only needs 5 to 7 minutes to reach the optimal temperature before you can put your material into it. Note that you’ll have to wait for the machine to preheat before putting your t-shirt or bag into it.
The fact that it heats up so fast is also a strong indicator of the fact that the PowerPress Industrial Heat Press doesn’t lose too much energy to heat the room.
Furthermore, it has a press surface of 15 x 15 inches, giving you plenty of elbow room to work not only on t-shirts, but also other types of fabric, such as tote bags, tablecloths, pillowcases, mousepads, and other similar products.
Finally, this heat press is built with top-grade materials, which means that it will last you a long time so that you won’t have to worry about preserving it in a pristine condition by sparing it from being used so often. It’s durable, and that’s something you can almost feel when you unbox it.
Now for the not-so-great news: as with some other heat press machines, you may feel an unpleasant scent the first few times when you’re operating the PowerPress Industrial Heat Press. On the bright side, the smell will go away if you keep using the press, so that’s not exactly a huge problem.
Furthermore, you may notice that there are some differences in temperature between regions on the heated press surface. Although these shifts in temperature are nothing to be worried about, they could potentially affect your design transfers if you’re not careful enough.
Last, but not least, as we’ve already mentioned, the PowerPress Industrial Heat Press has a clamshell design, which means that you’ll have to use some muscle to lift the press after the design transfer is done.
The bottom line is that if you’re in need of a machine that can perform heat transfers excellently with vinyl, you should definitely go with PowerPress Industrial Heat Press. It has great customer support, comes with a generous 15 x 15 inches heated press surface, and heats up very fast (5-7 minutes).
PowerPress Industrial Heat Press Pros
- 15 x 15 inches heated press surface to help you work with t-shirts and even bags
- Heats up extremely fast (5-7 minutes)
- Doesn’t lose too much heat
- Uses top-grade components which makes it a sturdy heat press machine
- Intuitive and easy to set up and use
- Great customer service that’s responsive, prompt, and available even on holidays
PowerPress Industrial Heat Press Cons
- You might notice a smell during the first few uses
- Difference of 10-15 degrees on various zones of the press
- Clamshell design means that it could be more difficult to lift once it’s done
3. Cricut Easy Press 2 – Best Budget Heat Press
If you’re a crafting aficionado, then you must’ve heard about Cricut and know at least a few of the products they’re showcasing, right? If you have no idea what we’re talking about, then scratch that and let us start from the top.
Cricut is a titan of the crafting industry, seeing as they have a broad variety of products that can satisfy most, if not all of your crafting needs. They’re most popular for their cutting machines that are simply intuitive, versatile, and powerful, whatever your project is, so you might not have been aware that they also make heat press machines.
Well, they do, and their heat press machines such as the Cricut Easy Press 2 are easily some of the best ones we’ve encountered. Furthermore, they won’t have you break the bank, either, which is precisely why they’re not only in our top 10, but they also received the ‘Best Budget Heat Press’ title.
It goes without saying that if you have a Cricut cutting machine such as the Maker 3 or the Explore Air 2, pairing it up with a Cricut heat press such as the Cricut Easy Press 2 is one of the best things you could do since they work amazingly well together.
The Cricut Easy Press 2 comes in three different sizes: a small one that has a 6 x 7 inches heating surface, a medium 9 x 9 inches one, and a large one that lets you work on a 10 x 12 inches surface.
Although the small and medium ones are great and fun to work with, if you’re serious about your design business we recommend you to go with the largest one. You’ll be able to work on so much more surfaces than if you were to stick with the small or medium versions, and you’ll also reduce the time you spend transferring designs, so it’s really a no-brainer.
What’s great about the Cricut Easy Press 2 is that it’s simply the fastest heat press on the market, and it’s truly impressive watching the medium one heating up in less than one minute. The largest (10 x 12 inches) version of Cricut Easy Press 2 takes a little less than 3 minutes to get going, but nevertheless, it’s still really impressive.
Furthermore, all machines regardless of size have a digital display that will let you know once the heat press has reached its optimal temperature so that you won’t have to set timers or perform mental countdowns. The overall experience is fast and streamlined if anything.
Now we know that we’ve been singing its praises, but it’s an amazing machine. However, it does have a bunch of shortcomings, at least if you compare it to other similar products on the market.
For once, it’s a small heat press, even if you decide to bite the bullet and go with the largest one in the series. 10 x 12 inches is simply not enough for some users, so if you need a machine that can handle larger work surfaces, maybe the Cricut Easy Press 2 is not for you.
Technically, you could use it for larger designs as well, but you’d have to be extremely accurate and use it multiple times for the same design, not to mention the fact that doing so is really time-consuming and doesn’t go well with bulk orders.
Furthermore, Cricut has to pick up their game as far as documentation goes, since most users seem to prefer watching instructional YouTube videos on operating the machine rather than rely on the lackluster instruction manuals.
Last, but not least, the Cricut Easy Press 2 doesn’t have a clamshell design. In order to operate the machine, you have to press it over the surface you want to imprint, sort of like you were using an iron or a giant stamp that gets hot.
Although this is great for some users who were seeking intuitiveness more than everything, it also means that you won’t be able to imprint your designs on surfaces that aren’t perfectly flat.
The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of Cricut and already own a cutting machine from this manufacturer, the Cricut Easy Press 2 would make an excellent asset for your t-shirt design business. It may be a bit small, but it definitely makes it up to you with its intuitiveness, lightweight frame, and incredible speed.
Cricut Easy Press 2 Pros
- Reduced size, making it easy to deposit as it doesn’t take a lot of space
- Lightweight, which means that you could carry it around with you if needed
- Works great with other products from the Cricut family
- Affordable, so you won’t have to burn a hole in your wallet to buy it
- Intuitive, making it possible even for novices to operate it effortlessly
- Digital display that tells you how long before it reaches the optimal temperature
- The fastest machine on the market (medium heats in ~ 60 seconds, large in ~ 3 minutes)
Cricut Easy Press 2 Cons
- Documentation is not exactly reliable, you’re better off watching YouTube videos
- Not fit for working on bulk designs
- The work surface is small, even for the largest model (10 x 12 inches)
4. Vevor Heat Press – Best T-Shirt Heat Press
Although most of you automatically think of t-shirts when it comes to heat press machines, in reality, these machines can be used on several other types of fabric-based surfaces, such as caps, gloves, mousepads, tablecloths, pillowcases, and so on and so forth and what have you.
However, if you’re serious about finding the perfect heat press for your t-shirt business, then you should look no further: the Vevor Heat Press is exactly what you’ll need. Of course, nobody’s stopping you from using it on other types of fabric, but for what it’s worth, it works flawlessly on t-shirts.
Much like the first two heat press machines on our list, the Vevor Heat Press has a 15 x 15 inches heated surface, which gives you plenty of room to work on imprinting your designs on various pieces of fabric.
What makes Vevor Heat Press truly shine and separate itself from the crowd is its swing-away design. The clamshell design works great most of the time, regardless of where you decide to imprint your designs, but they also have a huge drawback: uneven pressing.
If the imprint is not evenly pressed on the surface you’re working on, you could easily picture how your design could be compromised. Well, with swing-away heat press machines such as Vevor Heat Press, uneven pressing is a thing of the past.
One of the greatest things about the Vevor Heat Press is that it comes with excellent customer support, which we already established is an awesome bonus to having a sturdy machine, considering that you won’t need to worry anymore about any potential snag you may hit during your projects.
Another key feature of the Vevor Heat Press is that you can assemble it very fast, regardless of your previous experience with similar machines or tech-savviness.
As opposed to some other heat press machines on our list, the Vevor Heat Press comes with a broad variety of accessories, which could help you work on various types of surfaces other than t-shirts (despite the fact that this machine is perfect for t-shirts).
For instance, you can use Vevor Heat Press and its accessories to customize plates, hats, and even mugs if you feel like it. The fact that the accessories are incredibly intuitive and easy to use is also definitely a plus in our books.
On the downside, due to its swing-away design, you’ll need a whole lot more space to unfold and operate the machine than with some other products on our list.
The best way to tackle this is to have a dedicated space for your heat press, so if you feel that you can’t accommodate this, you may be better off with using a different product, one that’s smaller and has a design that is less pretentious.
Another drawback of the Vevor Heat Press is that it takes quite some time to get ready to imprint, and it’s probably due to its size, too. Therefore, you may want to find something else to do in the meantime while the Vevor Heat Press gets ready to be used by reaching its optimal temperature.
The bottom line is that Vevor Heat Press works great on t-shirts, but you could use it just as well on a plethora of other surfaces, including mugs, plates, and hats, thanks to all the accessories that it comes with. Its swing-away design makes it perfect for t-shirts, but it also requires a lot more space to operate, compared to other products on our list that have a clamshell design.
Vevor Heat Press Pros
- Intuitive enough to be used even by novices with no prior training or experience
- Easy to assemble even if you have never done anything like this before
- Swing-away design means that you won’t experience any uneven pressing
- Incredible customer support that can assist you
- Included accessories can help you imprint on mugs, plates, or even hats
- Generous 15 x 15 inches heated press surface
Vevor Heat Press Cons
- Takes quite some time to reach the optimal temperature
- Requires more space to operate than heat presses with a clamshell design
- Lack of documentation
5. Mophorn Heat Press – Best Heat Press For Sublimation
Sublimation may sound like a fancy word (it does sound at least pretentious, I’ll give it that), but it actually refers to a process that sometimes happens naturally, and it refers to the process of matter being converted from a solid to a gaseous state with no intermediate liquid stage.
Now we know what our intention was to make it sound less complicated, and all we did was add it a new depth of mumbo-jumbo, but that’s exactly the principle on which the Mophorn Heat Press works, which makes this machine deserve a whole lot of recognition in the heat press game.
But let us start with the beginning. Speaking of which, this heat press is amazingly easy to use for complete beginners, so you can unbox it and start pressing your designs even if you have absolutely zero experience with similar products or have no idea what you’re doing.
The Mophorn Heat Press heat press has a very smooth learning curve, so even if you have absolutely no clue as to what you’re about to do or how heat press machines work, you’ll still be able to use this machine to generate impressive projects in no time.
As some users put it, the Mophorn Heat Press is at the opposite end of being an IKEA do-it-yourself project, so you won’t have to waste your precious time looking around for instructions, chasing rolling screws or nuts in your living room, or unfolding impossibly large instruction “booklets.”
All you have to do is receive the box that the heat press comes bundled in, take it out, plug it in, and you’re ready to rock. Of course, by rock, we mean imprinting your favorite design into the surface of your choice. Spoiler alert: Mophorn Heat Press can work on various materials, but we’ll get there later on.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that this heat press comes with a swing-away design, as opposed to the iron-on design of the Cricut Easy Press or the clamshell design of the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press. As a direct result of its design, you’ll get more accurate prints on your surfaces, at the expense of space.
This essentially means that while swing-away heat press machines benefit from evenly-pressed designs regardless of surface, they also take a lot of space, so you may want to make sure that you have a dedicated space to install and operate the machine, seeing as you’ll definitely need it.
The Mophorn Heat Press has a 15 x 15 inch heated surface, which seems to be the standard in the heat pressing industry. Except for the Cricut heat press in our guide, all other heat press machines have the same 15 x 15 heated surface side, so it’s safe to say that the Mophorn Heat Press didn’t go astray in this regard.
Furthermore, this heat press can yield absolutely perfect designs. In case you weren’t aware, sublimation projects require absolutely flawless execution, and this machine can help you achieve just that in a matter of moments. In other words, the Mophorn Heat Press imprints will always come out at print shop quality, even the bad ones.
Additionally, you’ll also benefit from a bundle of extra accessories if you choose to buy this machine. Using these accessories, you’ll be able to customize not only t-shirts, tote bags, pillowcases, and such, but also mugs, caps, and plates if you wish to. It’s really a bargain at this price, you know.
Although we already mentioned the fact that the Mophorn Heat Press is perfect for beginners, it lacks solid documentation, so you’ll have to rely on your intuition or on YouTube video. Personally, I’d go with the second choice, considering that you wouldn’t want to ruin a perfectly fine t-shirt or your imprint while trying to figure out how the machine works.
In case you didn’t realize it yet, we’ve started to talk a little bit about the machine’s drawbacks, so buckle up. We’ve already established that they’re not exactly top-of-the-line as far as documentation goes, and we believe we painted quite a picture when we mentioned that you need a lot of space to install and operate this machine.
The bottom line is that the Mophorn Heat Press is an excellent piece of technology you’ll want to have for your personalize-it business, seeing as you can use it to imprint creative designs on not only t-shirts, but also other more pretentious surfaces like mugs, plates, and caps.
If you’re willing to move past the lackluster documentation and the fact that you’ll need to have plenty of space to install and operate this machine, then the Mophorn Heat Press is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Mophorn Heat Press Pros
- Built from top-grade materials to eliminate worrying about it breaking often
- Ideal for beginners, and has a smooth learning curve
- Swing-away design helps you achieve even imprints every time
- No need to assemble it, works straight out of its box
- Comes with bundled accessories to help you heat transfer on additional surfaces
- A generous 15 x 15 inches heated surface is plenty enough for most projects
Mophorn Heat Press Cons
- Due to the swing-away design, the heat press requires a lot of space to be installed and used
- Doesn’t come with a solid set of instructions and tutorials
6. F2C Pro Heat Press Machine – Best Beginner-Friendly Heat Press
Granted, not everyone has a knack for crafting stuff, especially when this type of activity involves operating a hot plate that can reach a few hundred degrees before you can finish reading up on that instructions manual.
That’s precisely why not every piece of equipment on the market is designed to be used by professionals. However, most of the time beginner-friendly machines have a fatal flaw: they’re not exactly powerful, which takes out all the convenience of buying the product in the first place.
Well, we have some news for you. F2C Pro Heat Press Machine is a heat press that’s been conveniently designed to be used by beginners without significant effort, but the thing about this press is that it can also be used by professionals since it features just about everything you could need from such a contraption.
Let us be more specific: the F2C Pro Heat Press Machine may be a beginner-friendly heat press, but by no means is it limited in any way as far as print quality is concerned. The user-friendliness of this machine is also greatly boosted by the fact that this heat press is partially assembled in the box.
Therefore, if you’re not exactly tech-savvy, you don’t need to worry too much about spending a lot of time matching schematics to the product in front of you so that you won’t mess up the assembly and render the machine useless. In fact, that’s one of the things that make it so accessible for beginners, its ease-to-assemble.
Moments after unboxing you can get to work thanks to the simplicity of the assembly process, which is kept to a minimum. The surface of the F2C Pro Heat Press Machine is smaller than that of some of the other machines on our list, seeing as it only measures 12 x 15 inches.
On the bright side, the fact that the heated surface is a tad smaller than the competition’s doesn’t mean that the machine can’t do a great job. The surface of this press heats evenly so that you won’t have to worry about parts of your design not sticking, while others getting burned in the process.
Furthermore, the customer support you get with your purchase of the F2C Pro Heat Press Machine is simply one of the best ones you could find. Regardless of what your problem is, the customer support agents will try to make sure that you’ll get it sorted out.
We’ve stumbled upon this issue a bunch of times with some other machines, but the first few times you’re going to use the F2C Pro Heat Press Machine, you may notice an unpleasant smell coming during the actual heat transfer process. However, you shouldn’t worry too much about it, seeing as it will go away if you keep using the machine.
Furthermore, the smell won’t transfer to the materials you’re imprinting your designs on, so it’s really more of a temporary setback if any. Just make sure that the space you’re in is properly ventilated and you probably won’t even notice the odor too much.
Additionally, some users suggest that there may be some missing parts to the instructions manual, such as the entire manual. Jokes aside, reportedly the instructions manual is either missing entirely from the bundle or is not very helpful, so you may be better off watching YouTube videos.
However, this seems to be a common issue with these machines (i.e. the heat press machines), so you may as well soldier through the fact that the documentation is lackluster. After all, we can all say that YouTube is often more helpful than any poorly-worded help manual most of the time.
The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a heat press machine that won’t burn a hole in your wallet and can be operated with ease even if you’re a complete novice, we wholeheartedly recommend that you go with the F2C Pro Heat Press Machine.
It’s almost assembled out of the box, has a smooth learning curve, provides you with an accurate, even imprinting process has a 12 x 15 inches heated surface, and comes with amazing customer support. On the downside, it may smell the few times you use it and the documentation is lackluster.
However, these two issues are somewhat frequent, so they shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, especially if you love everything else about the F2C Pro Heat Press Machine.
F2C Pro Heat Press Machine Pros
- Provides you with an accurate, even imprinting of your designs on the surface of your choice
- The 12 x 15 inches heated surface should be enough to cover many design projects
- Has a smooth learning curve, making it possible even for novices to operate it with ease
- Comes partially assembled in the box, so there’s minimal assembly necessary
- The customer service is awesome, which is an important, often overlooked aspect
F2C Pro Heat Press Machine Cons
- You may notice some unpleasant smells the first time you operate the heat press (goes away in time)
- The documentation is lackluster, so you’re better off watching instructional YouTube videos
7. Zeny Heat Press Machine – Best Starter Heat Transfer Machine
Alright, so you may not know exactly what a heat press machine is, but you should definitely know the concept of a starter, right? Well let’s just put it this way: if you’ve just found yourself in the T-shirt or tote bag designing business, then you’ll definitely need a starter to help you, you know, get used to everything.
Well if you’re on the fence about choosing the best starter heat press, then you’re definitely in luck because we have just the thing for you: the Zeny Heat Press Machine.
If we were to put the strong points of this machine upfront, here’s how that would go: it’s got incredible customer support, it’s so easy to configure that you only need something short of 30 minutes to start heat pressing, and the machine is generally intuitive and easy to assemble.
Is this enough for you? We’re pretty sure it is. If it’s not, then you may consider picking up a machine that aims to meet the needs of professionals instead of complaining about a starter being too beginner-friendly. Want to find out more? We got you covered, just keep on reading.
First of all, one of the most often turn-downs for newcomers is the fact that some heat press machines are unnecessarily complicated. After all, they’re just large, specialized irons that you can use to imprint designs on various surfaces, they shouldn’t be too hard to operate.
That’s exactly what Zeny Heat Press Machine aimed to fix, and in our opinion, they did it gracefully. You see, the Zeny Heat Press Machine is so easy to use that even someone who has never seen, let alone touched a heat press machine can find its way around this product without significant effort.
The fact that the documentation is lackluster should be of no surprise to you, especially if you read about the previous products in our list; long story short, incomplete or missing documentation is a common issue that even professional-grade machines seem to encounter. If you find the lack of documentation unsettling, you shouldn’t worry, as there are a lot of YouTube videos you could turn to.
Furthermore, this heat press is also easy to assemble, so that you won’t have to spend endless hours slouched over your incomplete heat press just because you can’t figure out which piece fits where. We told you that it’s a perfect starter, and we didn’t exaggerate it one bit.
Much like the previous product, the Zeny Heat Press Machine only offers a heated surface of 12 x 15 inches. However, if you’re a starter this surface should be plenty enough to meet all of your heat transfer needs, so this shouldn’t be seen as a drawback in this case.
We’ve said it and we’ll say it again, if you’re an experienced crafter, you may want to move on. If you’ve been using the Zeny Heat Press Machine for a while, you can easily upgrade to a bigger unit and you won’t feel like they’re entirely different devices. The Zeny Heat Press Machine has the best of both worlds.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a machine that you can do sublimation projects with, then the Zeny Heat Press Machine is also not adequate for you. It can handle HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) projects such as shirts or tote bags exceptionally, but for sublimation projects, we noticed some shortcomings.
For once, it’s not large enough to accommodate this type of project as it should. Additionally, it may yield some unevenly pressed projects down your way, so your t-shirts may end up looking a bit off, with faded spots or with portions of the designs not stuck.
The Zeny Heat Press Machine’s swing-away design means that you don’t need to be a powerlifter to lift it, and you won’t have to spend a lot of time hunched over the ironing board, which also means that it can save you a lot of your precious time.
One thing that we didn’t get to mention about the Zeny Heat Press Machine is its price. The unit can help you tackle a lot of projects and provides you with a lot of convenient features, but it’s also very affordable, which makes it all the fitter for being used as a starting point in your T-Shirt designing journey.
We also said nothing about the customer support of the Zeny Heat Press Machine, which is absolutely incredible. According to various users, you could receive help with replacement parts even if you’ve just missed the return window, which is nothing short of amazing. You know, seeing as most manufacturers won’t even go half this distance.
The bottom line is that the Zeny Heat Press Machine is an awesome machine that you absolutely shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re just at the beginning of your t-shirt designing journey. It has everything you need, it’s easy to assemble and operate, and it packs amazing customer support.
Sure it may not be fit for all projects due to its size and swing-away design, but considering the low price you can buy it for, these shortcomings could be easily overlooked, especially considering that you won’t need all of those features as a novice.
Zeny Heat Press Machine Pros
- Intuitive enough that you can assemble it without significant efforts
- Fit for being used by complete beginners, even without documentation
- Fast installation, you can start using the machine in just under 30 minutes
- Incredibly helpful customer support
- Swing-away design that doesn’t need a lot of force to be lifted
- Great for HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) t-shirts and tote bags
Zeny Heat Press Machine Cons
- Lack solid documentation (help manual, tutorials)
- Not the best choice for sublimation due to its size (12 x 15 inches)
8. Seeutek Heat Press Machine – Best Heat Press For Home Use
Many customers claim that the Seeutek Heat Press Machine is simply the best heat press that you could have for home use. Others even go as far as to say that it’s one of a kind. Neither one of them are wrong, and you’ll soon get to understand why.
First of all, it’s very affordable, which is curious at least, considering that it doesn’t seem to compromise on anything. It’s sturdy, built with top-grade materials, so it’s clearly a machine that was built to withstand more than just an occasional level of wear and tear.
It also heats incredibly fast, at least when you compare it with other products in its price and capabilities range. To be more specific, it takes this machine merely one minute to reach 320 degrees, so it makes sense why we’re so impressed with this machine’s range of abilities.
But wait, there’s more. Not only will the Seeutek Heat Press Machine heat up almost on the spot, but it will also provide you with consistency, which means that the heated plate will have a constant temperature; no matter where you measure it, it will be the same.
Furthermore, if you want impeccable customer support from the manufacturers of your heat press, with Seeutek Heat Press Machine you got it. Aside from being prompt, friendly, and helpful all the time, reportedly the customer support also goes to great distances to ensure the satisfaction of their customers.
For instance, many users have reported that they received spare parts delivered for free, even after they left the standard return window. Now if that doesn’t yell professionalism and class, I don’t know what does.
The machine is simple enough that it can be easily handled even by non-professionals, or users who just made the first contact with a heat press and has no idea where to grab it from. Seeutek Heat Press Machine’s swing-away design also makes it easy to lift, as opposed to clamshell heat press machines.
The bottom part of the machine is crafted in such a manner that you won’t need to secure it with bolts or weights on your working table, since it won’t tilt even if you use it heavily.
If you’re interested in the types of surfaces that you can customize with the Seeutek Heat Press Machine, the answer is t-shirts and maybe even towels. You could try to use it on other types of surfaces, but we can’t guarantee that you’ll get satisfying results.
Now for the less-than-pleasant parts about this machine. For once, it’s a heavy machine. Sure, it doesn’t require a lot of force to lift thanks to its swing-away design, but that just goes for the top. The machine as a whole is heavy, so I wouldn’t plan on moving it around too often if I were you.
Furthermore, it comes with a series of accessories that are meant to let you print your designs on some other surface types, as well. For instance, there’s a hat press attachment you could use to perform heat transfers of your designs to hats, but it’s not as great as it should be.
The bottom line is that if you were looking for a heat press that’s perfect to use from home, then the Seeutek Heat Press Machine is exactly what you need. It has a non-tiltable bottom part, it comes with incredible customer support, its price is really affordable, and it heats up extremely fast.
However, it also has some drawbacks, such as the fact that it’s limited in size (12 x 15 inches), is heavy enough that moving it around is simply not an option (if you plan to do it often), and it comes with a hat press attachment that’s simply not what it should be.
Seeutek Heat Press Machine Pros
- Simple enough that even novices could use it
- The swing-away design eliminates the need for physical force to lift the upper part
- A constant temperature all across the heated plate surface
- Incredibly fast (takes a minute to reach 320 degrees)
- Amazing customer support that goes great distances to ensure that their customers are happy
- Affordable price, considering other similar machines on the market
- Built with top-grade quality materials (sturdy, built to resist)
Seeutek Heat Press Machine Cons
- The limited size of 12 x 15 inches make it unfit for certain projects
- A heavy machine that you won’t be able to carry around at your leisure
- Comes with a hat press that’s not good
9. ePhoto Heat Press Machine – Best Small Business Heat Press
Now there’s a product that you could get behind if you’re serious about your craft and want to move up the hierarchy with your business; the ePhoto Heat Press Machine is simply the best heat press you could invest into if you’re trying your hand with a small business.
We’ll cut straight to the chase. First of all, you need to consider the fact that small businesses rely on these machines way more often than using a heat press at home for your hobby or school projects, so these heat press machines just need to be able to withstand some serious wear and tear.
With that in mind, it should make perfect sense that the ePhoto Heat Press Machine is showcasing a clamshell design, as opposed to the previous products on our list that were all adepts of the swing-away design.
More so, it should also make sense that the ePhoto Heat Press Machine is bigger than some models that were designed for home usage, seeing as it boasts a 15 x 15 inches heated plate surface.
Now back to its clamshell design. If we know one thing about clamshell heat press machines, it’s the fact that they’re not too friendly if you lack strength. However, despite it being a clamshell heat press, the ePhoto Heat Press Machine is incredibly easy to lift.
The heating process is also amazingly fast so that you won’t have to waste a lot of time waiting for the plate to reach the optimal temperature before you can lay out your t-shirt and press your design into it.
ePhoto Heat Press Machine comes with Teflon sheets that you can (and definitely should) use so that you don’t mess up your projects. They are there to protect your materials, so you should definitely use them as such.
One thing that we definitely loved about the ePhoto Heat Press Machine and didn’t see in most of the heat press machines is its ability to store configuration schemes into its internal memory so that you won’t have to waste a lot of time performing these configurations every time you use the press.
However, it’s not all peachy. As with any other heat press on the market, ePhoto Heat Press Machine has some drawbacks that you should be aware of before you decide to give it a try and buy this machine.
First of all, it emanates an unpleasant odor during the first few times you’re going to use it. But that’s not such a big deal considering that the smell won’t rub off onto your t-shirts and that it goes away after you use it a few times.
However, you may find it off-putting that the power cord is extremely short, so you’ll have to pair this heat press with an extension cord. Furthermore, you may also be annoyed to find that there might not be any instruction manual packed in the bundle that the ePhoto Heat Press Machine comes in.
But other than that, it’s an incredibly competent machine, one that you’ll be really glad to have included in your small business, what with all the features it showcases and its amazingly sturdy construction. You’ll really feel like you made the right choice if you’re willing to compromise on its drawbacks.
ePhoto Heat Press Machine Pros
- The Teflon coating can protect your materials against being damaged
- Despite its clamshell design, you don’t need a lot of strength to lift it
- Sturdy design that’s built to withstand more than the occasional wear and tear
- Generous 15 x 15 inches heated plate surface to fit most of your projects
- Can get to the optimal temperature fast
- Has an option to save your settings, thus saving you time manually inputting them each time
ePhoto Heat Press Machine Cons
- Lacks a documentation manual, which could be inconvenient for most users
- It emits an unpleasant smell the first few times you use it
- The power cord is short, so you’ll need to use an extension cord
10. Tusy Heat Press Machine – Best Heat Press Machine For A Budget
If you’re on a budget and can’t afford some of the more expensive products in our guide, but you still want to take your shot at the T-Shirt design business, then you may consider opting for a machine that won’t make you break the bank in order to buy and maintain it.
In the situation depicted above, you could go with a budget heat press such as the Tusy Heat Press Machine that provides you with a ton of great features but comes at a next-to-nothing price, at least when you compare it with some other products on our list.
Let’s start with the beginning: Tusy Heat Press Machine boasts a swing-away design, and you know what that means. As opposed to clamshell designs, swing-away machines don’t require a lot of force to be lifted, so they can be operated without significant effort by a wide range of customers.
The design of swing-away heat press machines is also a huge factor in the product’s final price. In other words, you’ll often notice that heat machines that have a swing-away design are more expensive than their clamshell counterparts, however, with Tusy Heat Press Machine that’s absolutely not the case.
The heated pressing surface measures 15 x 15 inches, so you’ll also benefit from a premium-like surface size, considering that most premium machines have a 15 x 15 inches heated plate, while more affordable models boast smaller plates, such as 12 x 15 inches.
Not only that, but you’ll also love how easy it is to set up, configure, and start performing heat transfers with the Tusy Heat Press Machine. Regardless of whether you’re a heat press wizard or not, you could probably unbox it and get it started in under 10 minutes, which is amazing for new users.
Furthermore, you’ll appreciate the speed at which the machine operates, so you’ll not only configure and set it up in a matter of minutes, but it will also be ready to imprint your design in a few minutes by reaching the required temperature fairly quickly.
All these praise words may have you believe that you’ve struck a gold mine and that you don’t even need to glance at other products on our list, but remember that the main reason (as the awarded title suggests) we’ve recommended Tusy Heat Press Machine is for its highly accessible price.
In other words, the product is not expensive and has some great features, but it also has some drawbacks that you should be aware of before jumping head-first and purchasing this machine, and we’ll tell you all about them coming right up.
First of all, it comes with a short power cord, which means that you’ll either have to position it extremely close to a wall socket or use an extension cord to power up the machine and make it usable. Furthermore, you may need to install a surge protector or use a surge-protected extender.
Furthermore, although the machine is quite sturdy, it’s not exactly stable, at least not if you compare it to some other heat press machines that we’ve included in our list. Therefore, you’ll have to bolt it down to your workspace if you want for it to be stable.
Bolting the machine down to your workspace means that you won’t be able to just move it around every time you feel like it, so it’s easy to see why this could be an inconvenience for some of its potential users.
Last, but not least, it comes with a bunch of accessories that should let you imprint your designs on various other surfaces, such as mugs and hats. While this should be a good thing, it’s actually not, as the accessories are not as competent as you’d expect.
Therefore, if you’re after a heat press that can help you imprint your designs on t-shirts and tote bags, but also mugs and hats, you might as well keep on looking, considering that Tusy Heat Press Machine can handle the first two just fine, but its accessories just don’t do justice to hats and mugs.
The bottom line is that if you don’t have a lot of money to spend and you’re interested enough in the wonderful procedure of pressing creative designs onto t-shirts and why not towels or tote bags, then the Tusy Heat Press Machine can help you do that fairly cheaply.
Just don’t expect it to do wonders, and keep in mind that if you want a machine that can imprint your designs or mugs or hats, then the Tusy Heat Press Machine may not be capable to help you achieve that.
Tusy Heat Press Machine Pros
- One of the most affordable heat press machines on the market at the time being
- Sturdy heat press machine that’s built with quality materials
- Swing-away design that prevents you from straining while lifting it
- Intuitive enough that even novices can operate it without effort
- You can assemble it and put it to work in under 10 minutes
- The heated surface can reach the optimal temperature pretty fast
- Generous 15 x 15 inches heated surface that can accommodate most projects
Tusy Heat Press Machine Cons
- A short power cord that may have you use an extension cord to power the unit
- An unstable base that may require you to bolt it down to ensure it won’t fall
- The mug press and hat press accessories don’t work as they should
How To Choose The Perfect Heat Press For You (Buying Guide)
If you went through this whole article but still have no idea what you should be looking for in a heat press machine, then you might not be completely familiar with this type of contraption or don’t understand exactly everything about it and the way that it operates.
Not to worry, though, since we got you covered; we’ve included a comprehensive guide that can help you not only understand more about these wonderful heat press machines but also make a more educated choice on your own, especially if you’re the kind of person who does its own research. Or maybe you’re simply not 100% convinced by the products on our list.
Either way, we’re going to shine some light on the heat press machines, so that you can at least know where to start if you’re willing to research them on your own and find a product that will fit all of your crafting needs like a glove.
What Types of Heat Press Machines Are There?
This is sometimes the most confusing part about purchasing a heat press machine (i.e., discovering that there is more than one type of heat press), so we’re going to explain it in as much detail so that you can learn how to differentiate the types of heat press machines out there.
First of all, it’s worth mentioning that there are no more than three types of heat press machines on the market at the time being. Namely, there’s the clamshell heat-press, the swing-away one, and the drawer-type heat press machine. We’re going to help you learn more about each type.
Clamshell Heat Press Machines
The clamshell heat press machines are without a doubt the machines with the most common design on the market, and for good reason, too. They don’t take a lot of space to operate, they’re perfectly fine for beginners (except for one thing we’re going to mention soon), and they’re generally sturdy, which means they won’t break too easily.
That’s precisely why many individual users, but also small businesses opt for clamshell design heat press machines since they’re not exactly pretentious and can be installed more easily than swing-away heat press machines, for instance.
Individual users and small businesses generally start out small, so they don’t have a lot of space for various pieces of equipment, which makes the clamshell heat press a perfect choice in this case.
Now for the not-so-good news. First of all, the clamshell design has a fatal flaw, which is that despite being the cheapest heat press that has the smallest footprint, it is also the most dangerous amongst all other types of heat press machines.
What makes it so dangerous is the fact that it’s basically a heated plate that you’ll need to lift and put the surface you want to imprint under it. While the principle is simple, it’s also a merciless one that lets room for absolutely no mistake.
And trust us when we say that the plate is not heated, but ultra-heated, so you could get really hurt if you’re not careful enough while operating such a press. Getting your fingers under the plate could be disastrous, and not only because of the pain, but also because getting burned leaves gruesome scars most of the time.
Now enough with the horror movie scenarios, there’s actually another flaw that clamshell heat press machines commonly share: their weight. They may not take a lot of space to be installed in your workspace, but they do require quite some physical strength in order to pop up.
Don’t get us wrong, you won’t need to be a bodybuilder so that you can lift the top of a clamshell heat press (although it would certainly help), especially not if you plan to use the machine occasionally. However, if you have to work in bulk, it may become tiring to pop the top of the heat press over and over again.
Last, but not least, one flaw that most inexperienced crafters find off-putting is the fact that clamshell heat press machines have uneven pressure. As a result, if you don’t know the ins and outs of your machine, you may end up with failed designs, wasted time, and also cost increases because of all the trial-and-error.
The bottom line is that the clamshell heat press machines are great for beginners because they’re so cheap and don’t take up a lot of places, but they also have some flaws you’ll need to be aware of before you decide to invest in such a contraption.
Swing Away Heat Press Machines
Now that we’ve tackled the clamshell, it’s time to focus on its undeniable direct competitor: the swing-away design for heat press machines. Let us begin by saying that this type of heat press is also great for beginners, because of its increased safety.
However, the fact that it’s not only more expensive than its clamshell counterpart but also requires a whole lot of extra space (almost double), is off-putting for many potential customers who choose to go with the least expensive option.
First of all, let’s speak about this increased safety level that we’ve mentioned. With clamshells, it’s pretty obvious what happens: you lift the top, which is essentially a super-heated plate, and you put your t-shirt under it.
With the swing away, you won’t have to worry about having to place your hands under an ultra-heated plate, since the machine actually lets you pop the lid and move it to the side by ‘swinging’ it or better yet, rotating it.
This will help you avoid placing your fingers between two metal plates that could not only crush your fingers but also burn them severely, so you get why the swing-away design is a lot safer than the clamshell, right?
Now safety aside, there’s another perk that comes with having this awesome design for your heat press machine and it stems from the fact that you don’t need to press the heated plate manually on top of the surface you want to imprint. Did you guess what it is? We won’t keep you waiting.
Thanks to the swing-away design, you’ll get even pressure between the metal plates, so you won’t have to worry that your designs will be faulty as you would when operating a clamshell heat press. As a result, this could save you a lot of time and money spent on extra supplies.
Last, but not least, you won’t need to have a lot of strength to operate a swing-away heat press, but due to the fact that it’s larger, you may need help if you plan to move it around often.
Furthermore, due to its larger size, you’ll also need to have more space where you can install it, and it makes sense, considering that the top doesn’t get lifted, but actually rotates to the side. That’s why you need to make sure you can accommodate this type of machine before buying one.
The bottom line is that the swing-away design is absolutely perfect for bulk orders, seeing as the machine doesn’t need a lot of strength to separate the plates. Furthermore, once it reaches the optimal temperature, you can imprint your designs quite fast, at least compared to the clamshell heat press machines.
Drawer Type Heat Press Machines
Last, but not least, the drawer-type heat press is one that has a lot of support in the online community, as it seems to be the most loved design when it comes to heat press machines. It does have some drawbacks, but its high safety rating makes it so that even children could operate it with ease.
Let us tell you more about this type of heat press and what makes it so appreciated by many. For once, there are no heated plates involved, like with the clamshell design. Well, not ones that you could see and accidentally trap your fingers under, that is.
The way drawer-type machines operate is by pulling out the lower plate of the press, just as you would pull out a drawer (the name even hints at it). After you take out the ‘drawer’, you place the fabric you want to customize on the plate, then you push it back in.
There’s absolutely no danger of burning your fingers or trapping them inside the contraption (unless you really give your best at doing so), which is why many crafters worldwide swear by this type of design. Unfortunately, there are not many decent drawer-type heat press machines out there, which is why we haven’t included such a machine on our list.
It’s worth mentioning that, like the swing-away design, the drawer type also requires more space than the clamshell, since you have to provide the machine with enough space to be able to pull the drawer completely.
If you’re interested in a drawer-type heat press, you should know that there are some hybrid heat press machines on the market that let you operate them in two different ways, depending on which bolt you remove while operating it.
Loosening a certain bolt could unlock the swing-away design and let you slide the upper side of the machine to the side in order to place your fabric between the plates while removing the other one could let you pull out the bottom part of the machine so that you can slide your fabric safely.
It’s worth mentioning that these hybrid heat press machines are generally more expensive than the ones that only work one way. Furthermore, note that none of the machines on our list have a hybrid design.
What To Check When Buying A Heat Press?
There are quite some things that you should take into consideration if you just decided to purchase a heat press machine and don’t know where to look. Flashy features may trick you into believing that you’re making a great choice, but basic parameters are usually more important, and we’ll tell you all about them.
Considering that you’ll rarely stumble upon two machines that are exactly the same (unless they’re shameless rip-offs), you’ll want to pay a lot of attention to the size of the heat press you’re interested in.
If you’re after a heat press that you can easily install in your home, you’ll want to stick with a smaller machine, but you’ll also have to consider that smaller machines usually come with small heat pressing surfaces, so it’s a no go if you’re really serious about your projects.
The standard size you’ll want to look after is 15 x 15 inches, and we’re obviously talking about the heated surface. Once you establish that your heat press can accommodate designs that are 15 x 15 inches in size, you can start worrying about the actual size of the machine.
If you don’t really care about the heated surface size, then a smaller heat press could also work for you, especially if you don’t mind pressing several times on the same design to achieve the same effect that a wider press would provide you with.
The Cricut Easy Press 2, for instance, has a heated surface of only 10 x 12 inches, but you’ll definitely not have to worry about not having enough space in your apartment for it. In fact, the Easy Press 2 is portable enough that you can even carry it around with you, which can’t be said about clamshell heat press machines or swing aways.
Much like the number of designs that you can find a heat press in, there are also three operation types that a heat press machine can handle: manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic.
Naturally, the less you have to interact with a machine, the more expensive it will get, so it makes perfect sense that a fully automated heat press machine will have you reach deeper into your pockets than a semi-automatic or a manual one.
Manual heat press machines are without a doubt the most popular ones, and the price has a big role in this decision. Sure you have to interact with it and if it’s a clamshell then you’ll also have to put in a little elbow grease to lift it, but hey, nothing beats a manual heat press price-wise.
A semi-automatic lifts some of that burden off of your shoulders, so you can focus more on your designs. However, it doesn’t just do everything for you, as you’ll still need to interact with it, and it also costs more than a manual machine.
Finally, a fully automated heat press machine will definitely break the bank, so you should only stick with such a machine if you’re really serious about your business and would love some extra time at the expense of money. If you’re struggling with keeping up with bulk orders, a full-auto heat press is definitely the right choice for you.
Now we know that this one may confuse you a bit since heat press machines generally work with t-shirts, towels, pillowcases, tote bags, and other types of fabric, but that’s not the kind of material that we’re referring to.
No, in this case, we’re talking about the types of material that you’ll use for your designs, the materials that you’ll (hopefully) process with your awesome cutting machines before slapping them on your t-shirts and imprinting them with the help of extreme heat.
Given that heat presses can support several types of material, it should go without saying that you might need to look after a machine that works best with a specific material type, especially if you want to specialize in that material type. It’s a rare occurrence that a machine can handle all materials perfectly.
However, there are a bunch of materials that are generally well-supported by most heat press machines. Namely:
- HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl)
- Ink Transfer
Vinyl is, without a doubt, the most popular material that almost all crafters rely on for their designs, thanks to the fact that most machines can handle it without significant effort. More so, it’s also supported by most cutting machines, which makes it all the more popular with crafters.
Sublimation requires some specific materials called sublimation paper and sublimation ink, and it’s a complicated process that involves turning the solid ink into a gas before embedding the design into the fabric. This is precisely why you need a special machine that can handle sublimation, such as the Mophorn or the Vevor on our list.
Plastisol is a suspension of polymer particles such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or others in a liquid plasticizer that flows as a liquid. It’s worth mentioning that most commercial heat press machines can handle plastisol, just as long as they can provide at least 50 lbs of pressure and around 400 degrees of heat.
Last, but not least, the ink transfer procedure can be performed by using a printer and a heat press. You print the design on a transfer paper using a compatible printer, then you transfer the design on your favorite surface using a heat press machine. The procedure is quite simple.
Recently, Cricut released a new material called ink infusion or infusible ink that works only with a few types of fabric. The procedure is quite simple with infusible ink, as well, but it works best with Cricut products (as you’d expect) and white or light-colored fabrics.
How To Use A Heat Press
Given the fact that a lot of heat press machines on our list lack not only decent documentation, but some of them seem to be lacking it completely (i.e., there’s no documentation at all), it’s understandable why operating a heat press could be a bit confusing for a novice.
Even if your machine does lack documentation partially, you could still learn more about operating it as well as troubleshooting certain issues by looking up the model on YouTube and watching the instructional videos you’ll find there.
The first thing that you’ll need to have is a design, and depending on what you’re working with there are several ways you could get your hands on one. If you don’t plan to work with vinyl then you’ll need a supported printer that can print on transfer paper.
If you do work with vinyl, you could cut your designs freehand or better yet, invest in a vinyl cutter and save yourself some time. If you want to use vinyl for multi-colored designs, you will need to either create separate screens for each color or line your designs up. You should check up some YouTube tutorials, as you’ll understand the whole thing better than seeing it in writing.
Once you have your design, you need to get your t-shirt, make sure it’s wrinkle-free and start up the heat press. You’ll have to wait until the heat press reaches the optimal heat transfer temperature. Otherwise, you’ll frown upon noticing that your design is off or has failed.
If you’re a Cricut Easy Press 2 owner (or, you know, the other model of heat press from the same manufacturer), you will want to iron out the shirt before you can apply the design to it. That’s mainly because the Easy Press 2 isn’t heavy enough such as the other heat press machines and you’ll want to make sure that the design will imprint evenly.
Make sure that you don’t overstretch the shirt, otherwise, you’ll notice that the design will warp when the t-shirt fabric relaxes and takes its original shape. Just iron it and stretch it enough that the design won’t suffer any damage or warping after you release the fabric.
Alright so you’ve got the design, you straightened out the shirt, you placed the design on the spot where you want it imprinted, now all you have to do is make contact between the heated plate and your t-shirt (the part where the design is at, obviously), and wait for the countdown to come to an end.
Note that some heat press machines may lack a built-in timer, in which case you’ll need to take a look at the instructions manual that your machine came with, check for how long you need to heat-press the design and count it down on your own. It goes without saying that a built-in countdown would spare you of this headache.
The amount of time you need to press the design into the shirt is crucial if you want not to burn the fabric or mess up your design, so make sure you’re not overdoing it. Keeping the heated plate for too little on top of the design is also bad, as it could lead to designs that don’t stick completely.
If your machine has a built-in timer, then it most likely has a notification sound, as well. Make sure you experiment with your heat press before jumping to actual projects and take your time to grow familiar with all that it has to offer.
Depending on the type of machine you’re operating, you could be subject to unfortunate accidents, such as getting your fingers trapped beneath the heated plate, or even burn yourself on the hot surface. It goes without saying that you should never operate heat press machines if you’re tired and can’t afford to focus entirely on what you’re doing.
It’s worth mentioning that if you’re in the t-shirt designing business, you’ll need to be able to create your own designs for your t-shirts. While that’s not a must, it’s the thing that could make the difference between really turning a profit or barely making the minimum to afford to keep doing it.
Sure, there are a lot of free designs out there that you can print on your t-shirts, but most of them are protected, so you won’t be able to sell them without breaking a law or two, so you may need to purchase premium designs, and that could easily put a dent in your profits in no time.
We hope that clarifies things for you and that you’re one step closer to understanding the way that heat press machines work, what makes them different, and how to keep safe while operating them.
What’s The Difference Between Screen Printing And Heat Pressing
There’s a lot of confusion sparking on the grounds of heat press machines versus screen printing and which one of them is better, so we’re going to shine some light on this so that you can understand each of them better and make a better decision if the need ever arises.
First of all, you need to understand that while both processes lead to the same result (i.e., imprinting your design on a piece of fabric), they’re wildly different, which is precisely the reason why we can’t have a head-to-head comparison between the two.
Furthermore, the differences between the two procedures also imply that there’s no best one, as the things that make either one of them ‘the best’ revolve around your needs and expectations. In other words, if you’re wondering whether you should go with screen printing or heat pressing, you must analyze your needs beforehand.
First of all, you must understand that screen printing is more expensive than heat pressing, but for a good reason: they’re excellent when it comes to quality, and they’re supposed to last a whole lot more than t-shirts you’re designing with heat press machines.
Screen printing involves using a mesh that you will have to create, as it’s part of the process. Unfortunately, creating the mesh takes a lot of time, skill, and money, so that’s why creating the mesh is only justifiable if there are a lot of orders you need to process.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that with screen printing, each color is added layer by layer, which will see a tremendous increase in execution times, considering that the more colors you’ll add to your design, the more time you’ll need to finalize it, not to mention that the paint takes a while to dry.
Last, but not least, screen printing requires a lot of space, and you need to actually be skilled to complete a screen printing job. Failing to create the mesh perfectly will result in a failed design, and waste of materials. There are a lot of video tutorials on how to do screen printing, but even so, it takes a lot to perfect this craft.
Even a minor detail such as using too much paint for your design could mess up the final product, so it’s safe to say that if you’re not exactly a master crafter or you don’t plan to become one, maybe you should skip on screen printing.
Heat pressing feels almost like cheating if you compare it with screen printing, and this is mainly because heat pressing involves creating a design that you can even use your printer for, then pressing it into a piece of fabric of your choice with the help of a heated plate. There’s no skill required for that.
You can have a lot of colors for your prints and they won’t take extra time to achieve. Additionally, you can use photorealistic models for your designs, and simply press them into your t-shirts without thinking twice, and this can’t be achieved with screen printing.
The bottom line is that if you just want to turn a quick profit and you’re not exactly the creative, artsy type, you should just go with the heat press machines. If you have the design, all you have to do is press it against a t-shirt for a few seconds, and you should be staring at a customized t-shirt already.
What Heat Press Is The Best For Me?
To wrap it up, there are a lot of heat press machines on the market, and each of them is different and unique in its own way. Except if it’s a rip-off, then it just looks like one of the brand models, but it’s probably incredibly worse.
Jokes aside, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect heat press machine for you, then you should browse all the products in our list, check the Pros and Cons lists for each product, and see what you’re willing to compromise on, depending on your needs and expectations from these machines.
We wholeheartedly recommend the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press, as it seems to have everything it takes to help you achieve excellent results, but if you’re not exactly a fan of the clamshell design, or find it too limited for your taste, feel free to pick a different one.
You should also make use of each machine’s title (the ones we’ve awarded them) if you’re at a loss and don’t know where to start. For instance, if you want to avoid spending too much money, you should go after our budget or starter choices.
Heat Press Machine FAQ
What is the best 15 x 15 inches heat press?
Although a lot of heat press machines in our list have several strong points and awesome features, we’ve settled upon Fancierstudio Power Heat Press. In our opinion, this heat press is an excellent heat press that can help you customize not only t-shirts, but also hats, mugs, phone cases, and sweatshirts without breaking a sweat.
What can you do with a heat press?
As their very name suggests, heat press machines are contraptions that you can use to perform heat transfers of your designs on various surfaces by pressing the design against the surface with the help of another heated surface. Depending on the machine you want to stick with, you should be able to customize t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, hats, plates, pillowcases, towels, and even phone cases.
What is the best multi-purpose heat press?
As you may have figured out by going through our guide, certain models come with additional accessories that you can use to imprint your designs not only on t-shirts, but also on other different surfaces, such as mugs, plates, and hats. If you’re looking for a great multi-purpose (5 in 1) heat press, then you should definitely go with the Mophorn Heat Press. Hint: it can also handle sublimation.
What is the best heat press for beginners?
If you’re just starting in the t-shirt designing game and you’re looking for a decent machine that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, you should check out F2C Pro Heat Press Machine. It has a lot of great features, comes with an intuitive design, and is affordable enough for a beginner.
What are the best all-around heat press machines?
The greatest heat press machines you could probably find on the market are the Fancierstudio Power Heat Press, PowerPress Industrial Heat Press, and Cricut Easy Press 2. They’re different from one another, but they all offer amazing features that will help you kickstart your t-shirt designing business.
What is the best heat press on Amazon?
The Fancierstudio Power Heat Press is, in our opinion, the best heat press you can find on Amazon. It has a clamshell design and may take a while to get used to, especially if you want 100% evenly-pressed perfect designs, but once you grow accustomed to it the results will be awesome.
What is the best heat press machine for t-shirts?
If you’re planning to use your heat press exclusively on t-shirts, then you should stick with the Vevor Heat Press. It has everything to help you get started and unleash your creativity on your t-shirt designing business or hobby.
Can I buy a clamshell heat press on Amazon?
If you’ve decided to stick with a clamshell design for your soon-to-be heat press, then you should know that there are plenty of such machines that you can buy on Amazon.
What is the best heat press machine for small businesses?
Although choosing the best heat press machine for a small business really depends on the needs and requirements of that business owner, we’ve found that the ePhoto Heat Press Machine is a great asset. It has Teflon sheets to prevent damage to the materials, has a generous 15 x 15 inches surface, and is built to withstand more than just the occasional wear and tear.
How do I choose the perfect heat press machine for me?
There are a lot of factors you need to consider when you’re looking for a heat press machine that’s perfect for your needs, including but not limited to the material type the machine can work with, the size of the heated surface, the actual size of the machine, your budget, whether or not you want to imprint other surfaces (hats, mugs), and how many designs you plan on processing on an average.
What is a clamshell heat press?
The clamshell is one of the most intuitive designs for a heat press. A machine that has this design has a top plate and a bottom one, and the way that they open resembles a jaw or a clamshell. You place the design and t-shirt on the bottom plate, and then you press the top plate against the bottom one to achieve the imprint. One of their greatest perks is that they don’t take up a lot of space, due to them being built vertically, rather than horizontally.
Are swing-away heat press machines better than clamshell ones?
Swing away heat press machines have a couple of perks that could make them a better choice for you than heat press machines with clamshell designs. First of all, the swing aways are safer than clamshells, and they require less physical strength to be operated, which makes them great for bulk orders. Furthermore, they eliminate unevenly-pressed designs, which can save you time, and money spent on wasted materials. On the downside, they tend to be more expensive and they require a lot more space to be installed and operated.
How does heat transfer paper work?
The way heat transfer paper work is right in its very name: you put your design on a special piece of paper, then you plant the paper on a t-shirt and use a heated surface to transfer the design on the t-shirt. Note that t-shirts are simply the most often customized pieces of fabric, and heat transfer paper should work great on other types of surfaces, as well.
How much does a t-shirt printer cost?
It’s worth mentioning that t-shirt printers are different than heat press machines, although the principle they operate on is similar. T-shirt printers use a procedure called direct-to-garment printing, which is why they’re way more expensive than heat press machines. A decent t-shirt printer costs upwards of $1,500.
What is a digital heat press?
It’s not exactly different than an analog heat press from a mechanical standpoint, considering that you still have to press your fabric and design with a heated surface to achieve the customization effect on the surface you chose. However, digital heat press machines have some nifty perks such as accurate control of pressure levels, heat, and timing.
What is the best swing-away heat press?
Vevor Heat Press is one of the best, if not the absolute best heat press with a swing-away design. This heat press is not only easy to use, and intuitive, but it also packs a lot of awesome features and is highly affordable even for beginners. If you want a great swing-away heat press and don’t feel like spending a fortune, then the Vevor Heat Press is definitely the right choice for you.
Is heat transfer printing good?
If you’re trying to start a business or just want to breathe new life into your plain shirts by customizing them with unique designs, then heat transfer printing is an excellent way to go about it. This procedure won’t cause shrinkage to your garments, and it’s a very straightforward procedure, making it highly accessible for a broad variety of users.
What is the best heat press for home use?
If you’re just customizing t-shirts as a hobby or you don’t feel exactly ready to turn designing t-shirts into a business, you should choose a heat press that will fit your home usage needs just great. In our opinion, the Seeutek Heat Press Machine is perfect for this role.
Should I buy a clamshell heat press?
If you’re about to start a t-shirt printing business and you’re on the fence about what heat press type you should go with, then a clamshell heat press it’s what you should go for. It allows you to print designs on both faces of the fabric at the same time and are overall sturdy and reliable. However, note that they may take a while to get used to and they require quite some strength to be lifted.
Are heat press shirts of good quality?
The quality of the t-shirts you’re going to customize with heat press machines highly depends on the t-shirt’s fabric quality. However, if you use high-quality t-shirts in your heat press projects, you’ll get high-quality designs that won’t warp, burn, nor fade easily. If you take proper care of them, they’ll also last a long time.
How can I care for heat-pressed t-shirts?
One thing you’ll want to do after heat pressing a t-shirt is to leave it for at least 24 hours before you wash it so that the design can settle in nice and snug. Furthermore, when you do wash the t-shirt, make sure you turn it inside out, to protect the design from the roughhousing that goes on in your washing machine.
Can I heat press hats?
Yes, it is possible to heat press hats, but only if the heat press you’re using has the appropriate accessories. However, note that heat pressing is not recommended to be done on certain materials such as velvet, velour, suede, or any other material that is silky to touch.
Why is my heat press not heating up?
If your heat press machine is no longer heating up, you might want to check that you’ve plugged it in a functioning source of power (e.g., wall socket) or a source that can accommodate the minimum power requirements of the heat press. If the power source is in perfect shape, then you should check the solid-state relay or the heating elements of your machine, or better yet, take it to a service.