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What is a Heat Press Machine?

Do you always wonder what a heat press machine is? 

Are you fascinated by the way that any design can be printed on a t-shirt?

You no longer need to worry as this article will answer all of your questions, as we will dive into heat press machines to know what they are, how they work, their uses, and the best ones out there.

First of all, we must understand what a heat press machine is. It is a machine that uses immense amounts of heat and pressure on different materials for printing purposes.

Heat press machines come with both a thermostat and a timer to be used for different materials because different materials need different temperatures and different printing time.

How do Heat Press Machines Work?

They have a heating platen that is formed from aluminum, and they use a special type of transfer paper and certain types of ink. They also contain an aluminum upper layer that has heating elements underneath it. Those heating elements contain wires or rods inside them that are enveloped in aluminum to transfer the heat.

What are the Types of Prints that a Heat Press Machine Can Make?

A heat press machine is used for many types of prints, and they are:

Sublimation Printing

Laser Transfer Paper

Inkjet Transfer Paper

Plastisol Transfer

Vinyl Printing

1. Sublimation Printing

This type of printing utilizes a special type of paper and ink, where the heated ink is soaked into the fabric to evaporate the carrier sheets.

For more, check out our guide to the best printers for sublimation.

2. Laser Transfer Paper

To use laser transfer, you need a special type of laser printable paper, and the design will be transferred on different materials.

3. Inkjet Transfer Paper

It performs the same process of using an inkjet printer; however, it uses a special two-layered paper that is transferred to any fabric.

4. Plastisol Transfer

Plastisol is a special kind of ink that has melted PVC (plastic pigments). The design is printed on special paper and later on, moved to any surface.

5.Vinyl Printing

We left the most important to the end. This method involves vinyl sheets, where the heat press machine transfers the design onto the surface, and then the carrier sheet is removed.

How to Use Them?

Using a heat press machine can be easy but a bit tiring, so if you are a complete amateur with no prior experience on how to operate a heat press machine, then this guide will surely be of great benefit:

  1. So, of course, the first step would be to turn your heat press machine on by putting the cable into a power output and turning the on/off switch on.
  2. The second step would be to choose the suitable temperature by rotating the thermostat until the red heating light appears.
  3. As soon as the thermometer identifies the appropriate temperature that you need, you must now turn the knob of the thermostat until the heating light goes off. A small tip that you need to know is that the light will repeatedly go on and off to maintain your preferred temperature.
  4. If your machine contains a timer (not all heat press machines have it), then you should start the timer, and whenever you hear an alarm, press stop to reset it.
  5. Lift the handle and press-ready
  6. Now, if you want to print a t-shirt, then you must have the transfer paper ready as it contains the artwork that will be printed on the t-shirt. So if this is the case, then you will stretch the transfer paper onto the t-shirt while it is facing downwards.
  7. Now bring the handle down so that it is locked firmly.
  8. Set the timer according to the transfer paper’s instructions.
  9. When the timer’s alarm goes off, lift the handle and remove the transfer paper from the t-shirt and you are good to go
  10. This is an extra tip; you should always inform your customers to wait 24 hours before washing their t-shirts or garments.

Types of Heat Press Machines

There are four main types, and they are:

Vacuum Press



Draw Heat Press

1. Vacuum Press

It is a very simple heat press machine as it utilizes air pressure to exert force on any material.

2. Swinger

True to its name, the swinger has a swinging heat platen, which allows you to easily control the material on the lower platen by either moving it or adjusting it. It is very suitable for thick or padded garments.

3. Clamshell

It got its name from the way it opens as it opens up like an oyster, and this is what makes it capable of printing on mugs, boxes, and even bottles. However, unlike the swinger, it is not suitable for thick garments.

4. Draw Heat Press

It is very similar to the swinger, and the only difference is that the lower platen will be pulled towards you.

Are they Expensive?

Heat press machines are priceless; they are incredibly cost-effective. No matter the price you pay for a machine, your business will be getting a lot of money in return as you will be able to create vast amounts of patches using only one heat press machine.

Best Three Heat Press Machines in the Market

There is a wide variety of heat press machines in the market right now, so we have compiled the three best ones and explored their features and specifications. They are:

Fancierstudio Power Heat Press

PowerPress Industrial Quality Digital Sublimation Heat Press Machine

Cricut Easy Press 2

1. Fancierstudio Power Heat Press

Fancierstudio Power Heat Press

This model is suitable for all uses; it has a 15×15 press sheet and can withstand up to 699 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a silicon base in the bottom part, and it is very easy to lift the plate. Moreover, the digital controls are extremely easy to set-up and control, and the pressure can be adjusted in mere moments. However, the handle’s grip is somewhat hard to handle in some cases, and the pressing procedure sometimes takes a bit to start.

2. PowerPress Industrial Quality Digital Sublimation Heat Press Machine

PowerPress Industrial Quality Digital Sublimation Heat Press Machine

This is a model that is specifically made for shirts, and it also features a 15×15 heat press plate and a silicone gel board as well. It’s most prominent feature is that it contains a Teflon coating that allows does not require to prepare a separate coated sheet. Moreover, this model will not overheat easily; the handle on the top is anti-slip, so you can keep working quickly. However, it doesn’t work on alternative materials, and there are not specific presets for any unique type of material.

3. Cricut Easy Press 2

Cricut Easy Press 2

This is a very compact and small model. It has a 12×10 press plate, and it can be used for shirts, sweatshirts, and even blankets. But its best used with vinyl. It has a ceramic plate so that nothing will stick to it. It is fast as it can finish printing in 60 seconds, and it can work with the Infusable Ink system from Cricut. However, it has a heavy compound system, and some substrates can be hard to stick to the surface.

Final Thoughts

We can now conclude that if you own, for example, a t-shirt printing business, then having a heat press machine is a must. It will be your most trustworthy partner, and we help you improve your business in ways that you cannot fathom.

We have also discussed almost everything about heat press machines, as you can now understand how they work, how to use them, what prints can they produce, and the best ones in the market.

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