What is a heat press machine?
You often see graphics on various fabrics, t-shirts, bags, and more. What you should realize is that these are often the results of using a heat press machine. The machines themselves imprint by applying heat and pressure.
There are, however, some time and temperature constraints associated with the pressing exercise. Educating yourself on them beforehand will prevent costly mistakes.
Benefits of heat press machines
Heat press machines and irons are a bit similar in their functions. They both provide heat and can be used with heat transfer vinyl to embed images onto your t-shirts and other substrates. However, the most common use for a household iron is to straighten out your clothes.
On the other hand, heat press machines are more tuned for sublimation techniques, laser toner, heat transfer, and image transfer into substrates. The most common substrates include t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, hoodies, bags, and many more.
You can rely on the machine to get done with the printing process quickly and efficiently. They are also guaranteed to give a high-quality result if used correctly.
When using the iron for transferring images, you may have to apply pressure with your hands, which can be tiring and ineffective. On the other hand, most heat press machines come with a pressure knob inbuilt. As such, if you choose the pressure settings according to the material being pressed, you will be good to go.
While you may get acceptable results with an iron, it is advisable to use a heat press instead. Irons can also not be used in a commercial setting, as printing would take too long.
Another benefit of the machines is that they should be easy to use for most people. All you are required to do is adjust pressure, temperature, and time and the rest is a breeze.
How to use a heat press machine
The first step is, of course, to plug the machine into a power source. There should as well be a set of controls available for setting the time and temperature. Just press the appropriate buttons since they are often well labeled.
Next, you need to open up the device, whether it has a clamshell or a swing-away design. This does not apply to iron-on machines. After that, you can place whatever substrate you want on the base.
You need to be careful that you don’t touch the heat platen while this is happening since it is likely to be hot. However, some of these machines incorporate insulated handles for you to grab onto.
Another parameter you need to tweak is the pressure. With machines like the Transfer Crafts 9 x 12 T-Shirt Heat Press, you can easily locate the pressure knob. Also, most other tools with the same design feature a similar pressure knob to cater for different size materials.
Pressing the substrate in question for a few seconds should be another step in the process. You eliminate wrinkles and ensure the print goes on a flat surface by doing this.
We are assuming that at this time, you already have your design printed on transfer paper. If so, lift the platen and place the transfer paper on top of your substrate. After that, press down the platen and start the timer.
The clock will run down, and some options like the PlanetFlame 12×15 Combo will produce audible noises to notify you that time is up. You can then lift the platen and remove the substrate in question.
Of course, you will want to remove the transfer paper and preview the final result on the fabric. In some scenarios, you find machines with Teflon coating, which will not stick to your fabric and cause scorching. An example is the Transfer Crafts 9 x 12 T-Shirt Heat Press.
Also, you have iron-on devices that may be a little different. This is because you might need to press them down a bit until the time is up for optimum results. You can also make use of Teflon sheets just to be safe.
How to make a heat press machine last longer
Heat press machine maintenance is rather easy to do and only requires a few minutes of your time. However, if you do it regularly, the tool is bound to last a long time to come.
There are many mechanical components to the device. As such, friction may be a regular occurrence, and that may lead to wear and tear. Also, if the joints and levers aren’t in pristine condition, it may be a little challenging to operate the machine.
For the above reasons, you should try and lubricate the machine as often as possible. Another area to look into is the cleanliness of the device.
Options with Teflon coating on the heat platen are easier to clean since they have a non-stick surface. However, you can prevent any materials from getting onto the platen by incorporating a Teflon sheet in between the transfer paper and the heated plate. Nevertheless, make it a point to clean the device’s surfaces regularly.
Also, always ensure you turn off the machine after use. Some of the products also offer auto-shutoff.
Features and elements to consider when choosing a heat press
If you intend to pick a heat press based on merit, you should have a firm grasp of the features to expect. This is arguably the best way for you to gauge the functionality of the machine without actually owning it. As such, most of the features to expect are listed and explained below. With such information at your fingertips, it shouldn’t be too hard to make your selection.
The overall quality of the machine is always something you want to pay close attention to. Here you can check on built quality, ease of control, available parameters, and more. A rule of thumb is that higher-quality products will require that you part with more money.
The size of the platen also matters a lot. With some of the options, you will only need to press once. However, with smaller models, you may need to press multiple times to get the desired print on the substrate.
Nevertheless, the number of times you need to press may also be determined by the size of the print required. A point to note is that iron-on machines tend to be smaller and lighter than their clamshell and swing away counterparts.
Power and voltage
You want to know the power requirements of your purchase so you can figure out if your sockets can handle it. Most devices on the list require between 90 and 120 volts to work.
They also convert this into the power that they use to produce heat on the platen’s surface. Of course, some options are more efficient in the way they generate power. This should translate into better efficiency when heating up to required temperatures.
As you have no doubt seen from the list above, there are different types of heat press machines available with regards to style. Examples include sublimation, draw heat-press, clamshell, and swing away devices.
With sublimation, you get high-quality images onto the materials by using sublimation ink. The process involves turning ink into gaseous state, and the gases are then embedded into the fabric.
Swing-away machines can rotate the top part of the device, which is usually the platen away from the base. As to the clamshell option, they work mostly in an upward-downward motion rather than upward and sideways motion like their swing away counterparts.
Another unique style of heat press is one that allows the user to draw the lower part of the device forward and backward. It, therefore, makes sense that this style of device is known as the draw heat press.
A lot of the options listed above, like the ePhoto 1515GB, come with Teflon coating. This provides a non-stick surface that is most useful for embedding images and designs onto the required materials.
You have other options like the AONESY 12 ×10 Heat Press Machine, which are ceramic coated, and that comes with its benefits as well. The main thing to ensure is that the platen features solid construction and is capable of producing even heat.
Temperature and time range
If you have experience in using such devices, then you will know that different materials will require different settings for the best results. This is concerning both temperature and time. For the above reason, a higher temperature limit and a wider time range are ideal for your purchase.
Adjustable force and pressure knobs
For most clamshell and swing-away options, you will find that adjustable pressure knobs are an essential component. However, with iron-on machines such as the Tangkula 9×9 Heat Press Machine, you don’t get the same capabilities.
Also, for commercial applications, the knobs are a necessity. Nevertheless, if you are only going to press one t-shirt in your free time, you may not need them. After all, you can get the same results by pressing down the machine with your hands.
Products with extensive warranties always seem like more sensible purchases in comparison to those without. This is because of the incorporated value that keeps you from spending more money on the gadget.
Warranties are especially useful if a product breaks down within the first few months of purchase or even suffers some manufacturing defects. If you didn’t check for a warranty beforehand, you might have to cater to repairs out of pocket.
Pricing always makes a significant case of whether or not to buy a product. As it stands, most options come in at a price point of between $80 and $200. If you look at the cost and feel you can afford it, then, by all means, buy the tool.
However, you also need to check the value you get from it even if you have the money. As such, it doesn’t make sense to buy a commercial-grade product while you intend to use it at home for small projects.
You may come across other benefits such as a silicone gel base with the Nurxiovo 15×15 Heat Press Machine. As such, it is essential to note that they may be beneficial and thus should provide extra incentive to make the purchase. Nevertheless, they may not be all that necessary for the basic operations of the heat press.