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Getting Started with a Heat Press

There are 3 important factors to consider when getting started with a heat press.

1. Heat Press

The only piece of equipment you’ll need to start your own T-shirt business is a heat press. The best option for beginners is the Auto Clam Heat Press, which opens automatically once it's done pressing a garment. This unique feature allows you to multi-task without running the risk of over-applying or burning a garment.

Platens come in several different sizes. It's best to plan ahead for larger projects by purchasing a larger platen than what you need now. Start with a 16" x 20" and purchase smaller platens if needed.

Compare All Heat Presses

Ready to start heat pressing?
Download the Getting Started with a Heat Press Checklist.

2. Decorating Products

The most popular decorating products are also the easiest to use.

Pre-Cut Letters & Numbers

  • 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.
  • Choose from more than 40 font/style options.
  • Depending on the quantity, material, and size of the pre-cuts needed, pricing is as low as $0.06 per character.

Pre-cut letter and numbering kits are great to have on hand. If someone asks for one-off personalizing, you can do it instantly.

Browse Pre-Cut Letters & Numbers

Pre-Spaced Text & Numbers

  • Name and/or number arrive pre-aligned on a carrier.
  • Carrier greatly reduces labor and time.
  • Depending on the quantity, material, and size, pricing is as low as $1.25 per text or number.
  • Perfect for name/number team orders.
  • Order as few as one name or number.

Pre-spaced is a great time saver when you’re in a hurry. Ordering online provides you with the convenience of uploading team rosters.

Browse Pre-Spaced Text & Numbers

Any Word. Any Way.™

  • Best product option when the same team name or word needs to be placed on multiple garments.
  • Great for fan wear that complements sports uniforms.
  • Similar to pre-spaced text only with more customization options, including split fronts and tails.
  • Depending on the quantity, material, and size, pricing is as low as $1.09 per word.
  • Sew and no sew options available.

While there are many products within Any Word. Any Way., start with CAD-CUT® materials which do not require sewing.

Browse Any Word. Any Way.

Hotronix Auto Clam
Auto Open Clam
Hotronix®Auto Open Clam
Heat Press - Fusion IQ
Hotronix® Fusion IQ®
Heat Press - Air Fusion IQ
Air Swinger/Draw
Hotronix®Air Fusion IQ®

3. Heat Transfer Materials

The material choice is typically based on the type of fabric of the garment/piece being decorated.

Be aware of polyester fabrics; they tend to bleed through heat transfer materials. When decorating polyester fabrics, select CAD-CUT® Thermo-FILM® to prevent dye migration.

To get started, review this chart of popular heat transfer material and fabric combinations.

Popular CAD-CUT® Heat Transfer Materials and Fabric Combinations
Heat Transfer Material Thermo-FILM® Fashion-FILM® Premium Plus™ Glitter Flake™
Best for Best for:
Best for:
Lightweight Fabrics
Best for:
Stretch Fabrics
Best for:
Special Effects
Benefits Benefits:
Blocks dye migration
Great for T-shirts
Great for performance wear
Hottest selling special effect material
Suggested Fabric Types Suggested Fabric Types:
Suggested Fabric Types:
Suggested Fabric Types:
Suggested Fabric Types:
Cotton or polyester

View all Material & Fabric Combinations

Videos for Materials, Services & Equipment

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  • Do-It-YourselfMaterials

    See the latest innovations in CAD-CUT® heat transfer materials and learn tips, tricks, and instructions on creating the best designs possible.

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  • Sports DecoratingServices

    Learn how to use Stahls' products to start your own T-shirt business. Watch videos on services, accessories and more.

    Go To Services Videos >
  • Heat Printing & SignEquipment

    Find the right heat printing equipment for your business and learn how to keep it running at full capacity.

    Go To Equipment Videos >