Whether you are picking up a new hobby or starting a small business, buying a heat press machine is quite a big investment. A heat press machine allows you to transfer a printed design onto different surfaces. This method is commonly used in creating graphic T-shirts, tote bags, and even mousepads and mugs.
In order to transfer a design onto the fabric, the heat press machine has a large top platen that heats up. When the platen reaches the right temperature, the hot platen is pressed on top of the layers of the print and the fabric. After some time, the design will be transferred onto the T-shirt.
Depending on the type of transfer, you will need to use different temperature settings so that the design is transferred correctly without damaging the colors or the fabric.
For example, sublimation printing, which employs a special type of ink that sticks to the fabric when heated, requires a higher temperature and a longer cool downtime. On the other hand, a digital transfer takes much less heat and cool downtime.
Besides these basic features, heat press machines come in all sizes with many types of added features. You can find one that best suits your needs, but there are some things you’ll want to look out for.
What are the best heat press machines for T-shirts? The best heat press machines for T-shirts must heat and apply pressure evenly across the platens and should allow you to adjust the temperature for your project. Clamshell presses are great for small spaces, but swing-away machines are often easier to use and more efficient.
There are quite a few different types of heat press machines designed for different types of materials, but this article will specifically focus on heat press machines for T-shirts, which are usually cotton, polyester, or a blend of the two materials (poly-cotton).
We’ll look at how to choose the right heat press machine for your needs as well as some particular models which will work well for T-shirts. Let’s get going!
What To Look For In a Heat Press
Heat press machines can vary in size, press type, and pressure and temperature setting (digital or manual). In addition, you can buy heat press machines that come with various types of platens that will work with various types of applications.
In any case, you should look for the following features to ensure the best experience with your heat press:
Heat and Pressure Distribution
When it comes to heat press transfer, the print needs even heat throughout the platen in order for the ink to transfer evenly and correctly. Otherwise, you will end up with a blotchy, damaged design on your T-shirt.
Similarly, pressure needs to be applied evenly across the print to assist the pressing process. You should look for a platen design that can distribute even pressure onto your print and fabric.
Each type of print requires a different temperature for the ink to transfer correctly. Your heat press needs to allow for temperature control and must be able to heat up to the appropriate temperature. This way you won’t accidentally damage your paint and fabric when using the heat press.
Most heat presses allow you to control the temperature, either with a manual timer and a thermostat or a digital control panel. For a large and consistent workload, we recommend using a machine with digital control to save time and labor.
Size and Design
Heat presses designed for home use are often of the clamshell type, which means that the top platen opens up to an angle. This design is great for home use because it saves space. However, it can take more time to work with a clamshell machine because it’s not friendly for precision placement.
You can also find swing-away heat presses, a type more common among big industrial heat presses. In these models the top platen opens to the side. This type of machine is usually very big, and the swing-away design allows you to place the garment quickly and precisely in the machine for an efficient press.
There are also small, portable heat presses with a less traditional design. These allow you to lift the press and apply it to your item. The press itself is not attached to a bottom platen, so you have to be careful when applying the press to ensure your design is centered.
What Size Heat Press is Needed For T-Shirts?
The size of your heat press machine depends mostly on the size of your T-shirt and your print. If you want to print mainly on children’s T-shirts, your heat press can be small. On the other hand, printing on adult T-shirts and especially oversized T-shirts would require a larger heat press.
Similarly, the size of your print would be important when looking for a heat press. If you are mainly printing 8.5″ by 11″ graphics (standard A4 paper size) or smaller prints, you will only need to buy a 9″ by 12″ heat press.
Small presses are quite popular for home use because they are portable and more affordable. They heat up quickly, which makes them convenient for quick and small printing jobs.
However, if you are looking for heat presses that can assist with your small business, you should look for a bigger size so you can print several T-shirts at once, making production more efficient.
7 Best Heat Press Machines For T-Shirts
Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for, here are some of our top recommendations:
|1.||PowerPress Sublimation Heat Press Machine||Clamshell, digital, 15x15"|
|2.||Heat Press Machine with Slide Drawer||Clamshell, digital, 12"x15|
|3.||VEVOR Heat Press Machine||Combo swing away, digital, 12x15" and 15x15"|
|4.||ePhotoInc Swing Away Heat Press||Swing away, digital, 9x12"|
|5.||Cricut EasyPress 2||Lift and press, digital, 12x10"|
|6.||PowerPress Portable Heat Press Machine||Lift and press, digital, 12x10"|
|7.||FeiLian Easy Heat Press Machine||Lift and press, digital, 12x10"|
Don’t forget to purchase inks that are appropriate for your T-shirts and check the material of your clothing. Polyester and cotton are different from rayon or flannel, for example. Your media will depend on your materials.
Check them out in more detail below to help you choose the best one for your needs.
1. PowerPress Sublimation Heat Press Machine
This PowerPress machine seems quite bulky and complicated at first, but it’s one of the most popular designs for efficient heat press printing.
This machine has a clamshell-style top platen that opens upwards, so it’s quite efficient to place and remove your T-shirts as you print, especially if you are printing in bulk.
The Teflon-coated heating plate allows for even temperature and pressure distribution across the plate. The plate is 15 x 15″, which will work with quite a big T-shirt. The machine can heat up to 455 degrees Fahrenheit and has a timer control of up to 999 seconds. Both the temperature setting and the timer can be easily adjusted with an LCD digital control.
This clamshell machine is highly effective and efficient to use. We recommend it for not only hobbyists but also small business owners who need a print a lot of T-shirts in a short time.
2. Heat Press Machine with Slide Drawer
Perhaps the best part of this clamshell heat press machine is its slide-drawer feature. This makes it very easy to pull out clothing once you’re done pressing, and the plate is easy to remove as well.
Like our top pick, the heating plate is Teflon-coated, which makes for equal heat and pressure distribution. However, the plate on this machine is 12″x15″, making it a great choice for small to regular sized T-shirts.
Another similarity is that this machine heats up to 455 degrees Fahrenheit. The digital control panel makes it easy to get a precise temperature.
Another one of my favorite features of this machine is its ergonomic handle. It has a long handle and soft grip, which means you can press all day long with minimal discomfort. This helps you to work smarter, not harder. Score!
3. VEVOR Heat Press Machine
The VEVOR heat press machine comes in two sizes: 15″x15″ or 12″x15″, and has 5 bonus accessories.
In addition to a reliable heat press machine, you get a platen press, a hat/cap press, mug press, and 3 different plate presses. If you’re looking for a heat press that can press more than just t-shirts, this is your best pick.
It heats up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit and is Teflon-coated. The 360-degree swing-away design means you are extra-protected against the heat of the plates.
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, this 5-in-1 heat press is a serious choice!
4. ePhotoInc Swing Away Heat Press
If you are worried about possibly burning yourself on the top platen while using a clamshell heat press machine, a swing-away heat press machine such as this ePhotoInc machine is a recommended alternative.
The swing-away style design means that the top platen opens on the side, not upwards, so you don’t have to worry about burning yourself on the hot plate.
This heat press machine accommodates a design of up to 9 x 12″, which is a common size for printing on medium to small T-shirts. The machine heats up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can adjust the temperature and the timer with the digital panel, which is so easy to use.
The top platen is Teflon-coated, which offers a smooth application for your print. Since this heat press machine is designed to work with different types of materials, you can also adjust the pressure with a top-mounted pressure knob. This step will allow you to get the best result with your print on all types of materials.
This swing-away heat press is a popular option, especially for small businesses. Many people find working with a swing-away machine quicker and easier, so some prefer this type of heat press for printing in bulk.
3. Cricut Easy Press 2
This Cricut Easy Press is a light and portable design that makes any heat pressing job super quick and easy. It comes in several sizes, with the largest being 12 x 10″, which is the standard size to print an A4 graphics.
This machine is highly recommended for beginners because of how easy it is to use. Think of it as a large iron that can apply heat and pressure evenly on your T-shirt. There’s no bottom platen, only a ceramic-coated top platen that can heat up efficiently in a few minutes, making the machine extra light and portable.
The temperature and timer are adjusted with a digital control. The machine can heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which works with most types of HTV or Infusible Ink transfers. This machine is a worthwhile investment for hobbyists who are looking for something quick, easy to learn, and highly convenient.
4. PowerPress Portable Heat Press Machine
The PowerPress Heat Press Machine is a lightweight, portable, beginner-friendly option for those who just want to print small jobs quickly. The heating plate is 10 x 12″, which will work with designs sized up to 9″ by 11″.
We love how beginner-friendly it is – you only need to position the design on your T-shirt, put the machine to the right temperature setting, and press the machine on top of your design to transfer it to your T-shirt. There is also a timer that tells you when your work is ready. The settings are controlled by a touch screen for easy access.
This machine is also highly recommended because of its safety features. There’s an anti-overheating feature that prevents the handles from overheating even after extended use. When the platen overheats, there’s also an auto-shutoff feature to prevent fires.
This machine works for a wide range of inks and printing types, so it’s highly versatile if you are only making small quantities for your friends and family members.
5. FeiLian Easy Heat Press Machine
The FeiLian Easy Heat Press Machine also offers similar features compared to other types of heat presses designed for beginners. It has a 12 x 10″ heating plate that heats up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which works for most small jobs, especially printing on T-shirts.
This heat press can double as an iron, since the machine is small and lightweight enough to be handled easily. When used as a heat press, you can set the correct temperature and timer using a digital control panel and press it down on your print and fabric to get a smooth and even transfer.
This heat press also has an auto-shutoff function to help you avoid any damage to your fabric. This option is great if you are making one or two small T-shirts as a hobby since its small size and portability allows it to fit well in your craft corner.