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Choosing the best heat press for your business is critical. Back in 2012, we started our t-shirt printing journey. We started off like most, on a limited budget. Like others, we thought that we could start off with a cheap heat press because at the end of the day it should do the job, which cures the ink on the shirt. I couldn't have been more wrong. At that time we were using heat transfer paper. I did not like the results we were getting. Come to find out it was most likely the cheap Chinese heat press that I purchased off of eBay. Heat presses job is to cure the ink. Inks need to be cured at certain temperatures so that the print on the shirt last. The problem is that most cheap heat presses have inaccurate readings and they also have bad coverage.
The cheap heat presses may have spotty coverage so that means that while one part of it may be the correct temperature another part of it does not. You can find those spots all over the heat press. One of the problems is that ours was putting out more heat than it said it was and the result was it was over curing the shirt which is not good either. That can make your prints crack and come off. It also gave our white shirts a yellow tint on the shirt. As you know this can be a problem.
If you are looking for the best heat press then you are more than likely thing about printing custom t shirts. Custom T-shirt printing will require you to use a heat press depending on the method of printing you are using. The only custom t shirt printing method that might not require you to use a heat press would be screen printing. The only reason why is because you are using a dryer and conveyor to cure the ink.
A Heat press is needed to cure the ink for all different types of printing. You can use a heat press for Screen Printing transfers. You can also use your heat press for substrates such as Vinyl and/or DTG Printing. The same goes for sublimation printing. As you can see there will be a lot of reasons you will need a heat press if you are considering joining the printing world.
There are several different styles of heat presses. You may prefer one of the above heat presses. Which one you should get depends on your setup. I like both the clamshell style heat press and the Dray feature. I rarely use the Swing Away option basically because there is always more equipment to the right of that particular heat press. I will normally use the draw feature the most.
Clam Shell heat presses open up and down. They are usually the most popular style heat presses and are usually cheaper than the other style heat press. If you are thinking about purchasing a clamshell style heat press I would definitely make sure that it has a threadable platen. A threadable platen is necessary to have for your heat press. You will also want to make sure that you are choosing the right size heat press. I do not recommend anything smaller than 16x20. The 16x20 is a good size for a press and most of the heat press has platens that can be exchanged. So if you need to press toddler or youth shirts you can switch out the platen.
The Swing Away Heat Press is also one of the most popular style heat presses. I do not usually use this feature due to space limitations but you can rotate the top of the press when the heat platen is and swing it to the right. Then you can lay down your material and swing it back on top of the garments. This makes it so the heat isn't always on top of you when you are trying to load or remove a t shirt from the heat press. It also just gives you more space to work with.
This is the most used feature on my Hotronix Fusion. I find it a lot easier to put the lower platen out towards me and load the garment on to the platen and then push it back in. So now you can work without being under the platen minimizing the risk of heat burn injuries. One of the only downfalls I have noticed is that the draw feature has sliders and bearings to make the platen coming out a smooth transition. For this to happen those bearings have been greased. I have noticed that when you thread a white t-shirt and are pushing the shirt back under the heat platen the bottom of the shirt gets caught in the bearings and results in a dirty pinch mark on the shirt.
If you are still considering a heat press machine you will want a quality heat press. Things you should look for when purchasing a heat press. Is the top platen covered with Teflon? This can help by not letting the top platen stick to everything that it comes into contact with. I would also look to see if it has a digital timer. You will want a press that has a timer so that you do not scorch your t shirts. Does it come with a touchscreen display? Well, this option is not that necessary. In fact, it can sometimes suck if the touch screen has issues. One of our presses had a touch screen that needed to be calibrated but for it to be calibrated you needed to type in a password. Now you couldn't type the password in because it was not calibrated. All I can say is that experience gave me a terrible migraine.
If you are planning on providing all over shirt prints you will need a large format heat press. The Allover shirt prints are usually done using the sublimation printing method. To use this method, like others you will need to cure the ink onto the shirt. That is where the Large Format heat Press comes into play. One of the best Large Format Heat Presses is the Geo Knight Maxipress. You can purchase this heat press in different sizes. The heat press starts at $8950 for the 32x42 size version. The other size is a 44x64 and if you want you can choose the air version.
Today I will go over our experiences with two of the biggest brands in the Heat press market. If you didn't know the top two brands are Hotronix and Geo Knight Digital. Both of these companies make good heat presses and I think you should definitely choose 1 of the 2 for t-shirt printing.
The Hotronix Fusion is a great heat press. The look is also awesome. It makes a great heat press for a commercial storefront or a mall setting. Ours lasted about 3 years before it started to catch on fire. I know right yes the main control board started smoking and burned up. We had to buy another control board for it which was about $600. Still, I highly recommend because after we have replaced the control board we haven't had any more issues with it. It has features such as the swing away and the draw feature that allows you to bull the platen in and out. It makes loading on the shirts and removing a lot easier. The heat press has lots of features. Some which include being able to set a timer for the heat press to turn on and off at a certain time. So if you know that your store opens at 9 am you can set your heat press to turn on at 8:30 so that it already to go by the time your work shift starts. It also turns off automatically after 3 hours of nonuse.
One of the things this heat press lacks is It does not have an auto pop feature. So when you are pressing the shirt you cant just walk away. On the other hand, the Hotronix 16 x 20 auto pop does have this feature but it is a clamshell heat press. So that means that it lacks the swing away option and the draw option.
The Geo Knight Heat Press line up is more industrial. They are more heavier duty and lacks a lot of the options that others have but last a long time. The Geo Knight DK20A is a great clamshell heat press. The auto pop feature makes it so that you can clamp it down and walk away. When the timer goes off the heat press automatically pops open, making sure that you are not over curing your shirts. The heat platen is also consistent all across the platen. So you can sell your shirts knowing that the right temperature was applied all the way across the shirt.
If you need a swing away heat press than the Geo Knight DK20S is the way to go. This heat press lacks the draw option that its competition has but again it is more of a heavy duty heat press. These heat press are around 225 lbs so just know that you may need help when setting it up.
When you purchase a heat press from a company you will want to make sure that you can get good customer support when something is not going well. You will also want to make sure that the company still can get parts for the machine when something breaks. Some manufacturers will help you out and talk you through on how to fix some stuff so that you do not need to pay for shipping to have your heat press fixed. Other things you may want to know is Free shipping covered under the warranty. If a part breaks and you do not feel comfortable replacing it your self, will the company pay for return shipping on the heat press or are you going to need to pay? You can learn a lot about a company just by calling their customer service first.
If you have any questions or comments about either of these heat presses let us know in the comments below.