With so many makes and models of heat presses, selectin […]
With so many makes and models of heat presses, selecting one heat press machine is usually confusing. To make the right purchasing decision for your business, you need to thoroughly investigate your options. Start by asking the right questions. Here’s what you should know before you sign on the dotted line.
The most important question revolves around your projections for business activity. How frequently will you use the heat press? If you anticipate a steady stream of business, you will need a higher end, very dependable heat press from a reliable manufacturer to satisfy your capacity requirements.
If you intend to use the heat press frequently for long periods of time, you may need an automatic press rather than a manual one. One of the critical variables in heat pressing is pressure. On a manual press pressure is regulated by turning a knob. An automatic press features pneumatic cylinders which precisely control pressure in pounds per square inch.
The higher end of the product range, heat presses are generally 220 volt. These units consumer less energy but cost more. Other heat presses are 110 volt and will plug into a standard wall socket. This was an advantage when I was set up my Hotronix heat press at various events, where 110 volt outlets were available.
For most t-shirt work a medium size press in the 16” x 16” is adequate. It’s big enough to do most jobs, yet small enough to transport if you are going to fairs and industry events.
The best advice when selecting a heat press is to buy the biggest that you can afford, that satisfies your specific needs. If you are shopping for an in-shop unit that you won’t move once it is in place, a 16 x 20 heat press makes the most sense. The larger platen size will allow you to conveniently align and press larger tee shirts.
Here’s the downside. A press with a larger platen size will likely weigh more. It’s great to buy a model that is built like a tank. But when the heat press weighs as much as one, and you need to transport it from place to place, you may want to take weight and size into consideration. Some units can weigh more than 150 pounds.
When you shop for a heat press, you may also want to inquire if the lower platen is removable and replaceable. Some swing-away units for example have removable platens, with very small platens for mugs and caps. With this feature, one press can perform the work of two. If you are going to do different types of jobs, the result is lower equipment cost. The more expensive, more versatile press will likely cost less than two presses.
Different heat transfer films require different time, temperature and pressure settings. With this in mind, it’s easy to screw a job up, especially on a busy day or when layering different types of films on a garment. The more sophisticated heat presses have controllers, which can be programmed to remember the right settings for the material that you are using. Some of these intelligent controllers have as many as 70 programmable presets.
If you are going to be lugging a heat press from one industry event to another (as I will be), you better make sure that it is portable. Ask the weight. Some units can weigh as much as 150 pounds and more. Generally a clamshell unit weighs much less than a swing-away press.