Given all the expanding creative innovations in the heat transfer market, a reliable heat press is essential for apparel decorators who want to offer a diverse selection of services to their clients. Without the right tool to apply your customized substrates, you will experience an inferior product.
When choosing your customization tool, there are many different models of heat presses. The most important factors in choosing the right press are even heat and pressure distribution across the platen, the size of the platen, manual versus automatic machinery, and clam versus swing-away options.
Be careful when shopping around, as not all heat presses are made the same. Many brands claim that they have even heat and pressure distribution, but when put to the test, the applied transfer clearly shows otherwise. For instance, if the transfer is peeling off in areas or scorched in others, the heat press does not evenly distribute pressure or heat. Also, assess whether the heat press you are considering has rapid heat recovery to minimize downtime between the application of transfers. The adage “time is money” is true. Downtime, whether it is waiting for heat recovery or an unreliable press should factor into your investment decision. Do your homework before making any purchases.
Find a heat press that has the key elements for quality and reliability, and be sure to evaluate what you will be customizing to ensure you get the right model to suit your specific needs.
Here are a few tips for choosing the right heat press for your specific needs:
- Entry-level — A smaller, manual machine that can be used with color copy papers, stock transfers, or vinyl offers the perfect option for home, craft, school, and small retail environments.
- Retail/sports environment — Manual swing-away machines for retail offer the ease of loading garments with interchangeable platens for lettering and numbering of jerseys, transfers, and vinyl with unobstructed access to the entire platen. A manual heat press option offers many different platen sizes, depending on your application requirement. Swing-away machines are strategically designed for uncomplicated operation with consistent, reliable results.
- Sublimation Printers — With digital printers and a heat press, you can customize on just about anything. Depending on your need, choose a heat press with the right platen or one with interchangeable platens. Using a large-format, oversized machine is suitable for customizing oversized garments, all-over garment printing, towels, blankets, aluminum panels, wood, or even doormats. Having a machine which allows for a larger gap opening to print on both thick and thin substrates provides added versatility in the customization process.
- Production — For high-volume production, automatic machinery is a necessity. Not only will your output be higher and overall costs lower, but operator fatigue and the chance of injury will be minimized. In addition, interchangeable platen options, various standard platen sizes to choose from, and ease of repeated application allow your customization output to be consistent over the course of the day.
Whether you are an entry-level entrepreneur or a seasoned shop owner, expanding your custom product offering is easy to do. With the variety of customizable printing options in the market today, as well as the various substrates which can be used, customization is limitless with the right tools and imagination.