Heat Press FAQ
- What is the most important thing to look for in a heat press?
- How important is accurate heat?
- How can I make sure my press has even pressure?
- What style is better? Clam or Swinger or Drawer Press?
- How do I connect my heat press to an electrical outlet and can I use an extension cord?
- How much space do I need for a heat press?
- Why are some presses hard to open?
- Do I need a digital readout?
- Do I need a different press if I’m printing hundreds of shirts per day?
- What kind of training is need to get started in heat printing?
- What’s the difference between clamshell, swing away and drawer style presses?
- Is it important to have a non-stick coating on the upper platen?
- Do I have to do any type of maintenance or cleaning?
- What about the lower silicone pads, are there quality differences that affect durability?
- Can’t I just buy a cheap heat press to see if I’m going to use it?
- How large of a heat press will I need?
- When my press is ready to go what should I do first?
- What type of maintenance is there on my heat press?
- How do I clean the heat platen?
What is the most important thing to look for in a heat press?
The most important thing to look for in a heat press is its ability to provide consistently even temperatures across the platen. One of the most frequent causes of misapplied transfers is cold spots in the platen. Cold spots occur when there is not enough heating element used in the manufacturing of the platen, or if there is a short or disconnect in the heating element within the platen.
How important is accurate heat?
In addition to providing even heat, a heat press must be designed to accurately control the temperature. When you apply transfers, proper application temperature is essential to the success of the finished garment. If you apply a transfer with too little heat, the adhesives needed to hold the graphic to the garment may not be activated. If you apply a transfer with too much heat, the adhesives may be pushed out beyond the edges of the image and cause an undesired outline or smearing. Excessive heat can also cause “strike-through”, which reduces the opacity of a graphic.
How can I make sure my press has even pressure?
One way to test for even pressure on a press is to put four squares of paper, one in each corner, and close the press. Try to pull out the papers. If one paper comes out easier than the others, it is possible that your platen is warped and not providing even pressure across the platen.
What style is better? Clam or Swinger or Drawer Press?
You want to make sure that you can easily slide garments on and off your heat press without burning your arms and hands and without damaging the garments on screws or greasy bolts. Some clam machines have a wide degree opening which allows for a safer, easier positioning of the garment on the lower platen, as well as safer positioning of transfers and other graphics. A Swinger or Drawer press will make it easier to layout garments. A Swinger will take up more counter space than a Drawer press, so it depends on your available work space and personal preference.
How do I connect my heat press to an electrical outlet and can I use an extension cord?
- Connect the power cord into a properly grounded electrical outlet with a sufficient amperage rating.
- Your Pro World Heat Press requires a full 15 amp grounded circuit for 120 volt operation.
- Extension cord use on the heat transfer machines is not recommended.
- Extension cords ,if used, should be as short as possible and not less then 12 gauge. Heavy duty extension cords are highly recommended in this case.
FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAN CAUSE:
- Erratic controller functions.
- Inaccurate displays and slow heat-up.
- The fuse to pop/break.
- Internal malfunctions prevent the machine to perform properly
How much space do I need for a heat press?
When choosing a press, examine your workspace first. For a clamshell model or draw press, you will need at least two feet of counter space, if you are considering a swing-away model, at least three feet. It is a good idea to have room next to the press to layout the garment and to place finished garments. You will also want to take the weight of the press into consideration, especially if you plan to move it around often.
Why are some presses hard to open?
Before buying a press, make sure it is easy to open and close. This depends on the design of the press. Even if you apply just one transfer a day, working with a press that is difficult to open and close is no fun. The more transfers you apply, the more important this feature becomes.
Do I need a digital readout?
Yes. Once you determine a time and temperature that works for the transfers and graphics you apply most often, you want to make sure that you are able to replicate the settings exactly, every time you print. If you’re using a manual or bell timer, and a dial thermostat, this is not always possible. There is always margin for error with manual timers and temperature dials. A digital readout lets you control both time and temperature with digital precision. You can set the temperature and time to your desired settings time and time again, with the same, consistent results.
Do I need a different press if I’m printing hundreds of shirts per day?
If you are printing long production runs, you need a press that will maintain consistent heat and accurate temperatures. Some machines don’t maintain platen temperature, due to a thin platen that loses heat, poor insulation, or some other design flaw. You need a press with a thick platen that retains heat transfer after transfer, and the digital readout accurately reflects the platen temperature, so you can be confident that you’ll get consistent results, time after time. You may want to consider an automatic opening press, or a semi-automatic swing press, which also opens automatically but requires an air compressor.
What kind of training is need to get started in heat printing?
It takes about 10 minutes to learn the proper way to use a heat press. Anyone can get started after knowing a few basics, such as how to preheat the garment, what to do about zippers and buttons, the purpose of cover sheets and how to apply a few different types of transfers. Most heat applied products come with complete instructions, but it’s helpful to practice on some scrap material if you’ve never operated a press before.
What’s the difference between clamshell, swing away and drawer style presses?
When shopping for a heat press, the first important decision that you are going to need to make is what style of heat press will work best for you. Right now, there are three basic styles of heat presses for garments from which you can select. You can choose a clam style, or upward opening machine, a swinger style, where the upper platen swings completely away, to the left or the right, or a drawer style, where you pull the lower platen out towards you, like a drawer. There are certain advantages and disadvantages to each style:
Operation, Clam vs. Swinger/Draw:
The clamshell heat press is a one or two step operation (depending on the press). You close the press down and when it has finished it’s cycle you open the press. The swinger and draw actually have a four step operation. You swing the heating area over your garment or in the draw’s case push your drawer under the heating area, then lock the press down, open it when its finished, then swing the heating area away or draw your print area away from the heat. So generally speaking, the clamshell style heat press leaves the user less fatigued.
Work Area, Clam vs. Swinger/Draw:
Swinger and Draw heat presses offer a heat free work area. This is ideal if your applications are going to require extensive layout. With the clamshell style, you do have enough room to do layout, however the heating platen is directly above your workspace. The clamshell and draw heat presses take up less space than the swinger. The swinger needs enough table space to be able to swing away from the work area.
Even Pressure, Clam vs. Swinger/Draw:
Generally speaking, the swinger and draw style heat presses can accommodate thicker items. The manner in which the heat press locks down from directly over the center allows the press to have an even pressure from the center out. The clamshell style of press has been long tagged with the ‘pinch effect” meaning, that when the press is locked down in the clam style motion, it pinches thicker substrates or locks down unevenly by hitting in the back first. This “pinch effect” and uneven pressure is only the case with certain styles of presses. Some major manufacturers have corrected this issue by developing presses with an over the center pressure adjustment as well as a floating top platen (heating area), that levels off before it hits your substrate. If you plan to do thicker items, such as mouse pads and hooded sweatshirts, be sure to find a clamshell press that negates the “pinch effect”.
Is it important to have a non-stick coating on the upper platen?
A non-stick coated upper platen is helpful for several reasons. This coating will help prevent any inks or sublimation dyes from getting into the heat plate and then transferring onto the next garment.
Do I have to do any type of maintenance or cleaning?
As far as maintenance on a press, dusting or cleaning with a mild household cleaner would not hurt although it is not necessary. This cleaning can be done on the heat platens, silicone pads, and all other external parts of the machines.
What about the lower silicone pads, are there quality differences that affect durability?
There are many different quality levels when it comes to the silicone pads used in the manufacturing of heat presses. Top quality pads are usually are 1/2 to 3/8 inch thick, made out of virgin silicone, not recycled or mixed, die cut for clean edges and feature radius corners for longer wear.
Can’t I just buy a cheap heat press to see if I’m going to use it?
While a “cheap” or hobby heat press may be acceptable for personal use, it is recommended that you use a professional grade heat press if you are selling the finished garment or product.
How large of a heat press will I need?
This depends on the type of items you are planning to personalize with heat print graphics. For instance, if you are going to print team jerseys for football and hockey, you will need a press that is at least 16′′ x 20′′. If you are only doing t-shirts, you are probably fine with a 15′′ x 15′′ press or smaller. However, it’s easier to line things up on a bigger press, even if you’re only doing 8.5′′ x 11′′ prints, the bigger presses are still nice for this. For some people though, it’s hard to justify the expense just for laying things out a little easier if you’re buying a new press and you aren’t planning on doing large jerseys or jackets. Keep in mind that if you plan to do this type of printing in the future, you might want to consider the largest press possible that you can afford and that you can fit in your workspace.
When my press is ready to go what should I do first?
The first thing to do is to preheat your lower platen. To do this, simply lower the upper platen onto the lower platen for approximately 30 seconds. This is especially important when applying your first graphic of the day. You don’t need to do this if you are in the middle of long production run, since the platen will naturally be hot from continued use. Preheating the bottom platen helps ensure that the adhesives on the back of the material will be better drawn into the fibers of the substrate to which it is being applied. Heat from both sides of the application helps ensure a better, more permanent result.
What type of maintenance is there on my heat press?
Most heat presses are maintenance free. If they have non-stick coated upper platens, it means they are easy to wipe clean if for some reason graphics are applied incorrectly, or without a cover sheet.
How do I clean the heat platen?
It is recommended that you use an abrasive free mechanics hand soap with a cloth to clean the heat platen.