How To Choose The Right Heat Press

How To Choose The Right Heat Press

3rd Mar 2024

Do you need a heat press for personal crafting or your business? If so, you’ll want to make sure that you choose the right one. With so many options, it can be hard to know which one is best. But don’t worry, this article will help guide you through the process of choosing the perfect heat press for your needs.

Heat presses come in a variety of sizes and features, so it’s important to consider all of them when deciding which one to buy. You should also consider how often you plan on using the press, what types of materials you will be pressing, and your budget. With these factors in mind, you can narrow down your choices and pick the perfect machine that meets all of your requirements.

Types Of Heat Presses

Heat presses are essential tools for anyone wanting to create professional-looking apparel. They come in three main types, and choosing the best one for your needs can be tricky. To help narrow down your choices, it's important to understand the basics of each type of heat press.

Clamshell presses open like a clam and typically have a heated upper platen and a fixed lower platen.  This popular type of press is great for pressing items like t-shirts and other similar apparel. They require less workspace than other types of presses, making them popular among business owners and crafters who have limited space.  The main downside for clamshell presses is that the operator is always working "under the heat" so care needs to be taken to prevent burns when loading and unloading the press.  

Swing-away heat presses are similar to clamshell presses but the heated upper platen is fixed to a hinged arm. The upper platen swings away from the lower platen allowing the user to place the garment on the lower plate without having to worry about getting their fingers burned while doing so. These types of presses are ideal for t-shirts, larger items, and busy shops that have more "swing space" available.

Draw presses feature a fixed-in-place upper heated platen with a lower platen that slides in and out of the machine, allowing you to place your garment on the lower plate without having to worry about burning yourself. These are great for t-shirts, and larger apparel items.  They also require more front space to allow for the draw action.  There are also some hybrid machines, such as the Stahls' Hotronix Fusion IQ, that feature both swing-away and draw functions.

Size And Portability

If you plan on taking your heat press to various events or workshops, size and portability are important factors to consider. The larger the heat press, the more difficult it will be to transport and store. A compact, lightweight machine is ideal for those who need to travel with their equipment often.

The type of garments you plan on pressing can also influence what size of heat press you need. Larger presses may be necessary for printing onto jackets, extra-large garments, or other bulky items. Smaller presses are better suited for t-shirts and other smaller items.

Temperature Range And Control

First, you should take into account how wide of a temperature range you need. If you're working with materials that require lower or higher temperatures than usual, then you'll want to make sure that the heat press can heat to the necessary range. Most models are capable of reaching temperatures between 0-200 Celsius (or 0-400 Fahrenheit). However, some models are able to reach even higher temperatures.

The next thing to consider is how precise you need the control over temperature to be. Some models will have digital temperature displays and controls that give you precise control over the temperature, while other basic models will offer a less-precise manual dial like a hand iron.  Generally we recommend digital temperature controls for the best pressing results.

Pressure Settings

Different fabrics and heat transfer vinyl (HTV) require different levels of pressure, so customizing your settings is key. High-pressure settings are best for thicker fabrics such as jackets and sweatshirts. Lower pressure settings are best for thinner materials like t-shirts and aprons - too much pressure can cause the material to wrinkle or shift. Always follow the pressure setting recommendation from the HTV manufacturer.

Most heat presses use a manual dial on top of the upper platen to adjust the pressure settings but fully automatic pneumatic presses are available as well.

Durability And Safety Features

Heat presses require a lot of energy, and so it's essential to make sure that yours is built with quality materials that can withstand long-term use. Look for heat presses made from durable metals like stainless steel or aluminum, and be sure to check the warranty information before making your purchase.

In addition to durability, safety is also paramount when choosing a heat press. Look for models with automatic shut-off features in case of overheating or forgetful minds.

Ease Of Use

When it comes to choosing the right heat press, ease of use is important.  It should be simple to set up and use, so users don't have to worry about the machine malfunctioning or taking too long to transfer an image. To ensure maximum convenience, look for a press that offers adjustable temperature and pressure settings so you can adjust according to the material being used. Additionally, having a digital display makes it easier to keep track of these settings.

Some heat presses come with additional premium features like an auto-open platen function which can save time and make the process even easier. Consider what type of projects you'll be working on when deciding which features are most important.

If you have many shirts to press on a daily basis, you can prevent fatigue by considering a fully automatic heat press that closes, locks down, and opens on its own.  These types of machines usually use an air compressor to power these functions and are on the high-end in terms of cost.

Cost Considerations

Now that you know the basics of using a heat press, it is time to consider the costs associated with purchasing one. Heat presses vary in price depending on the type and size you choose. Smaller presses are generally more affordable than larger ones.

In addition to the initial cost of the press, you will also need to factor in the cost of accessories such as an optional floor stand, PTFE platen wraps, cover sheets, pressing pillows, etc. If you plan to use your press often, it may be worth investing in a higher-quality machine that will last longer and require fewer repairs over time.

Warranty Considerations

Now that you have an idea of the quality of materials used in heat presses, it's time to consider warranty options. Depending on the manufacturer and model, there are a variety of warranties available for heat presses. Make sure to carefully read through each warranty before deciding which one is right for you.

When considering the warranty, look at what type of coverage is included. Most warranties include coverage for parts and labor costs associated with repair or replacement of defective parts or components. Some may also offer coverage for any damages that occur due to improper installation or use. Be sure to check if the warranty covers both parts and labor, as some may only cover one or the other.

It's also important to check how long the warranty lasts and if there are any limitations on who can make a claim under the warranty. Some warranties may only cover certain types of damages or malfunctions, while others may be more comprehensive. Knowing what your options are will help ensure you get the best possible protection from your heat press purchase.

Reputation Of The Manufacturer

When shopping for a heat press, it's important to consider the reputation of the manufacturer. Look for reviews and testimonials from customers who have purchased the same machine. This can give you an idea of how reliable the machine is and how well it will work when put into use. Find out if there are any warranties or guarantees offered by the manufacturer and how long they last for. If something goes wrong with your heat press, you want to be able to get it fixed or replaced quickly without having to pay extra money.

Another thing to consider is customer service. Check if the manufacturer has a customer service team that is available 24/7 in case you run into any issues with your heat press. Ask around or search online for customer service reviews to make sure that the company is responsive and helpful when needed.

It's also worth researching if the manufacturer carries spare parts for their heat presses, as this can come in handy if something needs replacing down the line. Many manufacturers have parts readily available on their website that can be bought separately, so this should be taken into account when making a decision about which one to purchase.

Available Accessories

When choosing a heat press, it's important to consider the what accessories are available. Does the manufacturer offer optional platens in different sizes to accommodate a wide range of apparel sizes?  Is a floor stand available to free up your workspace?  These are important items that can help make your project easier and more efficient. 


Choosing the right heat press is an important decision. It's important to consider all the features and options available before making a purchase. When looking for a heat press, it's important to consider the type of press, size and portability, temperature range and control, pressure settings, maintenance requirements, accessories available, and the manufacturer's warranty and reputation. With this information in hand, you can make an educated decision about which heat press best suits your needs.

No matter what type of press you decide on, regular maintenance is essential to ensure that it operates correctly and safely. Cleaning and lubricating moving parts regularly will help extend the life of the press and keep it working efficiently. Additionally, there are many accessories available that can make using the machine easier or more efficient.

With all these factors in mind, you'll be able to choose a heat press that meets your requirements and fits within your budget. Don't forget to research reviews from other users who have already purchased a particular model. This will give you an idea of how reliable the machine is as well as any potential issues people have had with it. Good luck!

If you have any additional questions about heat presses, feel free to contact us at (888) 330-6172 or visit our website at