Help and Education
How To Choose the Right Heat Press

As with any equipment, there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a heat press machine.

The most important thing to look for in a heat press is its ability to provide consistently even temperatures across the platen. This will prevent cold spots from developing and ensure consistent application of heat transfer materials. Proper application temperature is also critical in producing quality garments, making accurate temperature controls an essential feature.

Here are some features to look for when choosing the right heat press:

  • Consistent platen temperature
  • Digital temperature read-out
  • Digital pressure gauge
  • Ease of use
  • Interchangeable platens

Other factors to take into consideration are manufacturer reputation, service options, and warranty, as well as the size of the machine itself. Not only do you want a machine that will print images in the right size, but also a machine that fits into your workspace.

There are three main types of heat presses on the market today.

The type of heat press you need depends on the work you plan to be doing with the press. For example, while the clamshell press features a simple, easy to use design, swing-away and draw presses may be better for use with thicker items, such as jackets and sweatshirts.

Clamshell Heat Press
      Featuring a hinge at the back of the upper platen, this machine opens and closes much like a clamshell. Substrates and application materials are laid out on the bottom platen; the top platen then closes to provide the appropriate heat and temperature. While the clamshell press offers simple one-step operation, any layout work must be done directly under the heated upper platen. However, this machine takes up the least space, is the most portable, and requires the least operator effort of the heat presses listed here.


Swinger Heat Press
The swinger, or swing-away press, swings the upper platen away from the lower platen, allowing you full access to the substrate and design (without having to reach under the heating element, as you would with a clamshell press). This type of heat press takes up considerably more space than a clamshell, but allows a more convenient, heat-free workspace on the lower platen.      


Draw Heat Press
      With this type of heat press the lower platen slides toward the operator, allowing full heat-free access to the design and substrate, while taking up less room than would a swing-away press. Bear in mind that this involves a moving work surface which may not be the best choice if you are planning on frequently applying objects which might move, such as rhinestones.