How to Choose the Right Heat Press:
A Comparison Guide with Reviews Before Buying a Heat Press
When it comes to choosing the right heat press for your needs there are several different decisions you will need to make. These decisions are relative to style, price and suitability. We put together a comparison guide to help you review each of the big choices you have when deciding which type of heat press to buy. Whether you are a home based business or operate out of a commercial location, we have you covered.
Style: Clamshell vs Swing Away
The first decision you will have to make is the style. Should you get a clamshell style or a swing away press? The clamshell presses are easy to use, require very little space and are generally lower priced than comparable swing away models. Clamshells are great for thinner items like tshirts, but are not well suited for thicker substrates, such as a sweatshirt, hoodie or harder material. If you want a basic, inexpensive heat press, consider getting a clamshell like the Lawson Large Clamshell Heat Press.
The mechanics of how a swing away heat press machine is designed makes the press easier to view and adjust your layout area before applying anything. Compared to a clamshell, it is easier to get your hands into the pressing area because the heating element swings out of the way, rather than just hovering over like it does with a clamshell. With a swing away design, you get a more consistent application of heat and pressure because the heating element presses from the middle rather than the back.
The downside to a swing away press is that they are often much heavier and harder to transport unless you get a stand with wheels, like the Lawson Swing-Away Heat Press has. Since a swing away is more sturdy, there is a higher up front cost to purchasing.
Display: Digital vs Analog
Other things to consider are additional features that some machines offer, like digital displays and automatic capabilities versus manual operation. Most heat presses now offer digital temperature and timer settings on an LCD screen, although you can still find some analog timers out there. Another great feature to look for is an “auto-pop” that automatically raises the heating element away from the bottom platen when the timer is off. In case everyone has gone to answer the phone, or has had to turn away for a second, and came back to a burnt garment, that is the scenario in which this simple upgrade prevents. Saving just a couple of shirts more than pays for itself.
Durability and Warranty
One last thing to think about when shopping for a heat press is durability and the warranty. A heat press built in the USA often comes with a manufacturer’s warranty and some form of support, while heat presses built overseas offer little in the way of replacement parts. These cheaper heat presses are designed to be “thrown away” if something goes wrong, so consider if you would rather buy another cheap heat press or just buy a part to fix one designed to last a lifetime.
Using this heat press transfer guide should help you in selecting the right heat press that is best for your shop. Lastly, remember to buy your press from a reputable source that provides support on the press itself and your printing process. While you might be able to find it slightly cheaper elsewhere online, support when you need it is invaluable.