Choosing the right heat press


If you know all you need to know about heat presses then skip straight to the make or type you need by clicking one of these categories

Make  - Adkins  -  Geo Knight  -  Hix 

Style - Clamshell - Swing away - Cap press - Mug Press


If you're new to heat presses and are worried about making a mistake with your purchase then please read on to save yourself from potential disappointment.


Have you ever bought a really cheap iron and instantly regretted it?   

I have!  Turned it on. Set the temperature to 'Synthetic' and I got stuck into ironing my new business shirt.

Everything was fine until I had to stop and readjust the shirt position.   The very instant that the iron touched the fabric again it stuck to the shirt and melted the fabric.    It was fine a minute ago - so how could that happen?  

This is what happens:

*  The thin metal plate loses heat quickly while you are ironing but as soon as you stop, parts of it heat up very quickly

*  There can be a big difference in temperature between the hot spots and cools spots on the base plate (not good)

*  The (real) temperature is not always accurate and not what is indicated on the temperature dial.



Here's what you should be looking for in a heat press:

  • A short warm-up time is a minor benefit.   It can also be an indication of a thin, low quality heat plate.    It's much better to have a thicker heat plate that warms up a little more slowly but that retains its heat longer and spreads the heat more evenly out across the whole surface.
  • Is the temperature setting accurate?    In other words is the actual temperature on the bed of the press the same as the temperature shown on the display?   Many are not.   Don't wait until your customers start complaining about prints that wash out or vinyl that falls off or dye sub prints that have uneven colour   It's too late then - you've already bought the press.
  • Is the temperature the same across the full width and depth of the bed?   Up to 5 degrees is considered normal but we have seen a variation of 15 to 20 degrees on some lower quality presses.  Wonder why your vinyl sticks in some places and peels off in others?   Are your dye sub prints vibrant in some areas and dull or even burnt in others?  Unever temperature could weell be the reason.

Note 1: The extreme, outer edges of the heat plate may not reach full temperature even on high quality presses.

Note 2:  Laser temperature measuring devices can be inaccurate. Don't rely on them for accurate checking of your heat press.

  • How about the pressure . . . . . is it the same across the bed?    Some decoration processes like DTG printing need heat with very little pressure.     Vinyl, laser transfers, dye sublimation and plastisol transfers all require even heat and even pressure.


Some more basics to think about :

  • Do you need a manually operated press, a manual close with auto-open or a fully automatic press?
  • Are your products thin and flat like a garment,  thick and flat like a piece of MDF or curved like a cap or a coffee mug?
  • How much pressure do your products need.  Dye sublimation prints don't need a lot of pressure whereas other processes like laser prints need more pressure.



Presses for thin, flat products

Clamshell style presses are good for thin, flat items like garments.   This is because of the way the press is designed and operates.  You see the top (heated bed) is hinged at the back of the press and it opens and closes . . . . .(No surprise here) . . . like a clamshell.

The top and bottom plates become parallel just as the press closes.   If you were to try and press a thick item with this press then the back part of the press would make contact with the item before the front of the press had closed . . .  . and that's not good because it means more pressure will be applied at the back of the press than at the front.


Main points:

  • Lower price
  • Reduced weight
  • Less space required
  • Available with optional automatic opening
  • Hover function is available on some makes / models.
Click here to see clamshell heat presses in our store


Presses for both thin, flat products and thicker products like MDF plaques

We recommend a swing-away press because with this type of press the top and bottom beds always remain parallel to one another - so the pressure is even across the bed.

The standard swing-away press is closed and opened manually, then the top bed has to be swung to one side so that the bottom bed is in clear view to change the product and/or position the logo for pressing.


  • Apply even pressure across the depth of the bed
  • Better for pressing thicker items
  • Higher maximum pressure so are preferred for some transfer print operations.
  • More expensive due to extra weight and strength
  • Heavier than a clamshell
  • More space required for the bed to swing to one side
  • Automatic close and open is available only with compressed air operated models


Presses for curved items like caps, shirt sleeves & shorts legs

Curved items like baseball style caps require a special press that has a curved top and bottom bed.   The standard size bed is good for most caps but a different size lower bed might be required for low profile caps or children's sizes.

Cap presses are mostly clamshell design and some are available with auto open function.



Presses for cylindrical items like coffee mugs, sports drink bottles, stubby coolers and more

Cylindrical items require a different style of press.   The heated bed is flexible and wraps around the object leaving a gap (usually for the handle) which cannot be printed.

Mug presses usually have 4 different heater attachments.   Two with parallel sides (like a coffee mug) and another two with tapered sides for latte style mugs.



Presses for extra large, flat items like full garment body panels and large Chromalux panels

When you see a sports shirt that is for example blue, with coloured panels or stripes and perhaps even with different coloured lettering or logos . . . .the chances are that shirt is printed with dye sublimation.

It isn't a blue shirt that has been printed with different colours - the whole shirt panel was most likely printed as one large image onto a piece of white polyester fabric.    The printed garment panel is then cut out and together with the other printed garment panels it is sewn together to make a finished garment.

Of course you need a wide format dye sublimation printer to print that type of image and you also need a very large heat press like the one shown below.



View by Make  - Adkins  -  Geo Knight  -  Hix 


View by Style - Clamshell - Swing away - Cap press - Mug Press



Click HERE to send an email request or or call on 1800 137 670