Although my first love has always been screen printing, I’ve come to enjoy heat pressing equally when it comes to churning out custom prints. The process is quicker to learn, way less messy, plus the quality of print and wash durability are both excellent when done right.
Additionally, there’s a lot less things you’ll need in terms of equipment, tools and materials. You can start right from home with some quality heat transfers, a printer and of course, a heat press machine – which is what we’re going to focus on today.
What is a Heat Press Machine?
Heat transfers refer to the process of using transfer paper and a heat press to transfer prints to garments. This requires certain temperature, pressure and timing to successfully achieve and create a long-lasting product. Some of your printed garments have gone through a heat transfer process in some way. This includes whether it’s been ironed on, heat pressed, or even sublimated (we’ll get onto that later).
Different Types of Heat Press Machines
There isn’t one universal heat press machine that does everything. You’ll find there are various kinds that can be used, some suitable for one project, some for another. This doesn’t mean you need to invest in 4 different types of machines for your needs, this is based mainly on convenience rather than capabilities. Let’s take a look at each type of machine and find which one is best for you.
The Clamshell Heat Press Machine
This one is self-explanatory; its movement mimics that of a clam. The machine is hooked by one end which allows the motion to take place smoothly. Garments can easily be “stamped” for about 5 seconds without having to do anything else. If you’re new to garment printing, this machine is great as there’s not much to learn in a technical aspect. This machine isn’t large at all (which is great for portability), so if you’re intending to print transfers of a small to medium size, this machine will work for you.
The Draw/Pull-out Heat Press Machine
Now we’re onto the machine with added space. The draw machine is also referred to as the pull-out machine because it has the capabilities of added workspace. Pull-out machines have an adjustable lower platen that allows you (for the most part) to lay the garment over the other side, so you only need to work with the specific section you need to press. By allowing the garment to hang over the other side, there’s less worry about needing a massive machine to place the entire garment over. You’ll also benefit from the full view of the heat press surface, without having the mechanism blocking your view.
The Swing Away Heat Press Machine
To be honest, most of these heat presses sound self-explanatory. You probably already guessed that this GARVEE machine has a lot more movement involved, with the heat press swinging away with every use. This machine is quite heavy, unlike the clam machine; though it pretty much sounds like the opposite motion (side to side instead of up and down), the movement occurs between 180 – 360º, so you’ll need more room to carry out projects. Another thing to note: this one is HEAVY, so it’s not portable. On the bright side, this machine requires even less manual labour, so you can let it do most of the work for you.
The Sublimation/Mug Heat Press Machine
Finally, one that I get to fully explain without you guessing! This machine is not like the other heat press machines. For one, it isn’t limited to just garments, you can also heat press on mugs, hats and more! It’s your choice – you can use a standard heat press machine, (so any of the 3 mentioned above) but the added capabilities of sublimation printing require a specific machine, shaped to place mugs and caps in to avoid damaging the product. If you need to sublimate objects, you need a sublimation heat press machine, no doubt about that. you just need to sublimate garments, a specific machine isn’t suitable as you need a standard flat surfaced heat press machine (but at least it gives you more options).