Buying a Heat Press
If you are in the process of buying a heat press, there are technical aspects to consider, as well as work space constraints and how you plan to use the press. You don’t want to purchase a press and then discover you need to upgrade a month later. You want a reliable press that’s exactly right for the items you plan to print. It’s in your best interest to learn as much as possible before you buy. Let’s get started.
1. How large is your work space?
When choosing a press, consider your work space. If you have limited space, you will want to consider a clam style (opens upwards) or a draw press. These models will require ideally two feet of counter space. If you are considering a swing-away model, it’s best to have at least three feet. It’s always a good idea to have room next to the press to layout your garment and to place finished garments. If you don’t have counter space for your heat press, you can consider using a free standing heat press caddie or stand like the one available from Hotronix. But even with a caddie, you will still need a table or counter space in order to prepare the garments for printing.
2. What types of garments are you planning on printing?
The type of garments you plan to print will also play a role in the size of the press that is best for your business. If you want to print oversize sweatshirts, large sports jerseys or jackets, you will want a press that has a platen size of 16″ x 20″. If you are only printing t-shirts or children’s clothing, you should be fine with a 16″ x 16″ size platen. Hotronix presses feature interchangeable platens when you need to go smaller, but remember it is only the lower, non-heated platen that you are changing out. You can’t go any larger than the size of the upper, heated platen.
3. Do you plan to travel with your heat press?
If you want to take your heat press to events, such as sports or other tournaments, you will want to consider the portability and weight of your press. For some businesses this may mean purchasing one press for the shop and one for travel.
4. What’s the best heat press style?
In general there are three main types from which to choose, clam, swinger and draw press. With the swinger type, the top platen of the press is designed to swing to the left or the right, allowing a heat-free workspace on the lower platen. Clam models open on an upward angle over the lower platen. Clam models are very popular because they are usually the least expensive and take up the least amount of space in the workplace. Stahls’ Hotronix has designed their clam models with auto opening features and the widest possible opening, so they are the best clam model on the market. However one potential drawback to using a clam model is that the work surface below the platen can become hot, and it is more difficult to arrange graphics on shirts while they are on the press. The swing away model was invented to prevent this from happening. Several years ago, Stahls’ Hotronix introduced a third style of press, the industry’s first draw-type heat press. The draw press allows the user to pull the lower platen towards himself and then push it back in for printing. This design innovation was recognized as a space-saving idea, since one of the cons of owning a swinger-style press is that you need more counter space. Here is a handy comparison chart for heat presses.
Let’s move on to the technical considerations. There are reasons that some presses cost more than others. In the world of heat presses, the saying “you get what you pay for” is generally true.
Not All Heat Presses Are Created Equal—Here’s What To Look For:
1. State of the Art Heating Element and Thick Platens for Even Heat
One of the most frequent causes of misapplied graphics is cold spots in the platen. Cold spots occur when there is not enough heating element used in the manufacturing of the platen, or if there is a short or disconnect in the heating element within the platen. All Hotronix® presses feature cast-in, tubular cal-rod heating element spaced every 2” throughout the platen to ensure even heat. Plus, the thick, ¾” platens retain heat better and longer than cheaper, thinner platens.
2. Solid State Temperature Controller for Accurate Heat
In order to maintain accurate heat, Hotronix heat platens feature cast in cal-rods positioned in a zig-zag pattern throughout the entire platen. Before installation, the heating element is x-rayed to ensure functionality and maintain the highest levels of accuracy. In addition, Hotronix presses are controlled by a solid-state controller that gives the user a digital display of both temperature and time.
3. Over the Center Pressure Adjustment to Ensure Even Pressure
The key to even pressure when you are heat printing is dependent on the way the upper platen is engineered. Hotronix® presses feature a patented “over-the center” pressure adjustment knob, coupled with a flotational heat platen to ensure a “no-pinch” application result regardless of the thickness of your garment.
4. Wide Opening and No Greasy Exposed Parts For Easy Garment Placement
You need to be able to easily slide garments on and off your heat press without burning your arms and hands and without damaging the garments on screws or greasy bolts. Hotronix® clam presses have a wide 65 degree opening, which is 10% wider than most other clam-style presses available today. This allows for safer, easier positioning of the garment on the lower platen, as well as safer positioning of transfers and other graphics. Taking things a step further, consider whether or not the press offers “threadability.” The Stahls’ Hotronix® Fusion, which can be used as a swing away or draw style press, is designed to provide 360 degree access to the bottom platen, making it easier than ever before to slip on T-shirts, sweat shirts, and jackets. Just slide the item quickly and easily over the bottom platen. You can even turn the garment around while it is still on the press, for the fastest way ever to print both sides of the shirt.
5. Auto Opening To Prevent Over Application and Speed Production
Check to see if the press you are considering opens automatically. There are sevearl Hotronix® presses available with this feature that helps prevent ruined garments and allows for faster heat printing production. Even if you apply just one transfer a day, you’ll appreciate the ease of use that an Auto-Opening press has to offer.
6. Digital Readouts for Time, Temperature and Pressure
There are a lot of presses out there with digital time and temperature displays, but only Hotronix® presses offer the convenience of a digital pressure display with touch-screen technology. This may not seem important at first. But when you have more than one person operating the heat press, the ability to set the pressure means there is no guesswork. There are no more arguments about what’s heavy, medium or light pressure. You can also program and store settings for jobs that you do on a repetitive basis.
7. Interchangeable Platens That Require No Tools To Exchange
You can print just about anything–from shoes and bags– in any location–from sleeves to arms–with the sized heat press platen. Hotronix® offers a wide variety of different platen sizes and can also custom create a platen for your specific needs. The best part? They’re easy to exchange, no tools needed.
8. Lifetime Platen Warranty and Engineered to Last
Last but not least, please consider the people behind the heat press you wish to buy. Especially when you are considering a less expensive model. You will experience problems with low cost presses, that is part of the reason they cost so little. Make sure there is some type of warranty on the press you purchase. For example, Hotronix presses feature both a lifetime platen warranty and a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor. They also feature a corrosion-resistant, super strong anodized aluminum framework and a powder-coated, baked-on finish to keep them looking new longer. Hotronix also has a Free Blue Ribbon Support program, with live technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our technical support staff has more than 100 years of combined experience and we are the world’s largest manufacturer of heat presses.