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Getting started with a heat press showroom image

How to Get Started with a Heat Press

What equipment do you need to decorate apparel?

Start your own T-shirt business and create custom apparel with only one piece of equipment – a heat press. In this guide, we will walk you through how to choose a heat press, how to decorate with a heat press and which heat press accessories you need to get started. Let’s get started on your journey to success!

1. How to Choose a Heat Press

What heat press is right for me?
Compare All Heat Presses to determine the best machine for your business. Since this is the only piece of equipment you’ll need, consider these important factors when buying your heat press:
Available Space
How much space do you have?
The Auto Clam is ideal for limited space and production ability. The heat press automatically opens to prevent the risk of over-applying or burning a garment and is great for multi-tasking.
What is your budget?
Remember, a heat press is the most important investment when starting your T-shirt business. Explore our Heat Press Machines to find a press that fits comfortably within your budget. Don’t be fooled by cheap imports and make sure your money is being spent on quality equipment.
Do you have incoming orders or an increase in customer interest?
Potential sales are important to consider when purchasing your heat press. A reliable machine is something to consider if you want to create high-quality garments and gain repeat customers. The Fusion IQ® is great for businesses that expect quick growth and high order volume.
Is your business a side hustle or a full-time job?
The amount of time you plan to spend can help you determine the best heat press to purchase. The A2Z™ is perfect for any start-up ready to begin heat pressing with the intent to produce quality apparel. The A2Z™ is also a great second heat press for growing businesses or a portable option for heat pressing on-the-go.
A2Z Heat Press
Air Fusion Heat Press

Helpful Resources

Download our guide for more information to help you ask the right questions when making your heat press investment.
Ready to start heat pressing? Download our checklist to get you started.

2. How to Decorate with a Heat Press

What can I use to decorate custom apparel with my heat press? The most popular decorating methods are also the easiest to use. Using your heat press and these STAHLS’® services, you can easily start personalizing garments with quick turnarounds, fast and simple production, and minimal labor!

Pre-Cut Letter and Number kits are great to have on hand.
Perfect for one-off personalizing, you can apply on demand.
  • Easiest, least expensive way to start personalizing
  • Arrive loose, pre-cut, in packs of 10 or 20
  • Arrange the letters and/or numbers on the garment and heat apply
  • Pricing as low as $0.06 per character
  • Accessories available to help with layout and alignment
While there are many products within Any Word.
Any Way.™, start with CAD-CUT® materials which do not require sewing.
  • Best for team names or words placed on multiple garments
  • Great for fan wear that complements sports uniforms
  • Variety of customization options, including split fronts and tails
  • Pricing is as low as $1.09 per word
  • Sew and no sew options available
Pre-Cut Letter and Number kits are great to have on hand.
Perfect for one-off personalizing, you can apply on demand.
  • Name and/or number arrive pre-aligned on a carrier
  • Carrier greatly reduces time and labor – no manual layout required
  • Pricing as low as $1.25 per text or number
  • Perfect for team orders
  • No minimum order
Templates are perfect for creating your own unique designs
without investing in any design software or vinyl cutting equipment. .
  • Design arrives on a carrier ready to heat press
  • Create multiple lines of text
  • Choose from stock clipart, templates, and font styles
  • Available in popular CAD-CUT® materials
  • Order as little as one design

3. Heat Press Accessories to Get Started

What accessories do I need for my heat press? Adding a few additional tools to your heat press will maximize your ability to decorate a variety of apparel and non-apparel items. With the right heat press accessory, you can say yes to any hard-to-decorate item with confidence!

Heat Press Platens come in several different sizes, allowing you to heat apply multiple placements on varying items. There are platen options for heat pressing tote bags, youth garments, shoes, sleeves and legs, and more! The Tag Along HP Platen is a specialty doubly-duty platen that gives you the ability to print full fronts and tagless transfers simultaneously. This is a perfect solution for advertising your brand while creating custom apparel!
Heat Printing Pillows absorb thick seams, zippers, buttons, and pockets during heat pressing to ensure even pressure and perfect application every time. Available in multiple sizes for varying garments, these pillows are perfect to have on-hand. They’re great for decorating hoodies, jerseys, youth T-shirts, and zippered garments.
Quick Slip Lower Platen Protectors are essential for protecting your heat press investment. These fitted covers slip snugly over the bottom heat press platen, preventing any damage to the foam pad over time. Also, these non-stick protectors make it easy to thread garments smoothly on and off the lower platen.
Heat Press Pads are the best accessory when heat applying near pockets and can also be cut to fit inside bags or smaller items. These pads are made from a thick silicone rubber and provide a solid, elevated surface for even and accurate pressure when applying around obstructions.

The Ultimate Heat Press Comparison!