Sublimation printing is a craft that takes multiple tools, among them being the best heat press for shirts. Though it may seem like a cut-and-dry machine, there are some nuances to the world of heat press machines that can make them more suitable for shirts over other clothing items. No matter if it’s a hobby or a business, the right heat press machine is going to enable you to transfer your sublimation designs quicker, and with more consistency.
I’ve broken down some of my personal favorites on this list today, explaining why I think that they are the best heat presses for shirts currently on the market. I’ve factored in a number of considerations, such as beginner or intermediate-friendly models to help those on a budget get started.
Best heat press for shirtsTUSY Heat Press Machine
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Best valueZENY 5 in 1 Heat Press Machine
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Best for beginners
Cricut EasyPress 2
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Sublimation on Shirts – Everything You Need to Know
Sublimation is one of the most common methods of creating custom clothing: in a handful of steps, you can create vibrant designs on t-shirts, hoodies and much more. Once you’ve printed the design onto specially designed sublimation paper, you use the heat press to push the design into the fabric.
The best materials (or “substrates”) for sublimation tend to be synthetic ones, as they are better suited to the chemical bonding process that allows the sublimation ink to transfer to your desired item. As such, shirts with large blends of cotton aren’t as suitable, instead you should opt for a shirt made primarily of polyester.
It’s more difficult to sublimate with natural fibers, but not impossible. Using a blend of cotton or vinyl with polyester can create a unique washed-out look akin to vintage clothing.
In terms of the titular heat press machine, we tend to only use clamshell or “flat-top” presses for sublimating on shirts. They’re the best design for making sure the sublimated design gets adequate heat and pressure applied.
Best Heat Press for Shirts: TUSY T-Shirt Press
- 【Auto Press & Effort-Saving】TUSY automatic heat press machine is so easy to use that takes away the struggles of a regular heat press. All you have to do is gently push the ironing board inside and press one button to start, and the machine can automatically press down, adding even and sufficient pressure to the object for heat transfer work. Even men with less strength can easily complete hundreds of heat transfer products with a TUSY auto heat press machine.
- 【Safer & Free You Time】The auto heat press can also automatically lift after the set time is over, so the user does not need to be at the machine all the time, which can save a lot of time for individuals or studios to prepare transfer materials or design patterns. Combined with the setting of 30 min automatic shutdown without operation, even if you forget the work in progress, there is no need to worry about long-term heating damage to the work or cause safety accidents.
- 【Fast & Evenly】Our 15×15 heat press could reach the temperature from 0 – 240°C(0 – 464°F), and set time from 0 – 499 seconds. 1100W high power and single tube heating, this machine can distribute heat faster and more evenly.
- 【Unique Appearance】Compared with industrial heat press, TUSY automatic heat press has a smaller body under the same heat transfer size. The appearance adopts a home-style design. We added crystals pearlescent powder into the surface painting, which can present a iridescent light under the light; It is an excellent machine for heat press work and a good decoration when idle.
- 【Comprehensive Technical Support】24/7 attentive support will be offered with great patience! Any problems with this heat press, for example, product functions, or logistics timeliness, just contact us.
- Large press
- Convenient design
- Automated release
In my opinion, the TUSY T-Shirt Press is the best heat press for shirts. Purpose-built for sublimating onto clothing, it offers a number of improved features that make it ideal for your purposes at an affordable price.
One of the notable differences in this machine is how the pressure is adjusted. Instead of adjusting it at the back of the press, the pressure is conveniently controlled over the heat plate itself. This design tweak simplifies changing and setting the pressure correctly, ensuring that you get consistent and precise results with ease. Along with the timer that automatically raises the platen when the press is finished, this makes for easy and efficient heat pressing.
Though it is quite a heavy unit, cumbersome to move frequently, it makes up for it with an affordable price point and great quality heat distribution. I highly recommend the TUSY T-Shirt Press for sublimation on shirts of any variety!
Best Commercial Heat Press for Shirts: Fancierstudio PowerPress
- Teflon coated Heating Plate: 15×15 inch. Voltage: 110V. Power: 1400 W. Digital Control Board (Temperature Range: 32-455 F & Time Range: 0-999 s)
- Removable Silicon Mat: The silicon mat is not glued on the bottom board. Advantages: Washable (Easy to clean after work) & Replaceable (Easy to replace with new mat). Please feel free to move or attach as you like.
- Bottom handle: When the heating plate is closed with high temperature, the shape of the machine might change slightly. A bottom handle can then help you open the plate easily and safely.
- Patented Design Control Chip: Makes the machine more powerful, more accurate and safer to control the temperature.
- Replaceable Fuse: Protect machine from overheating and electric short.
- Teflon-coated heating plate with a washable silicone mat
- It is ideal for bulk production of shirts and flat materials
- Adjustable pressure knob for different materials
- Durable and easy maintenance
- It is relatively heavy and best suited for a dedicated location
The Fancierstudio PowerPress is a sturdy and versatile heat press designed to cater to the needs of both home-based enthusiasts and business owners. Its heavy-duty construction ensures reliability and durability, making it a solid choice for various heat transfer projects. Whether you’re into customizing artistic T-shirts or working with other flat materials in bulk, this heat press has got you covered.
One standout feature of this heat press is its generous 15-by-15-inch Teflon-coated heating plate, providing ample space for transferring designs onto a wide range of materials. The user-friendly interface with an LCD screen simplifies temperature and timer settings, allowing for precise customization with minimal effort. Furthermore, an adjustable pressure knob allows users to customize the pressure for various materials, guaranteeing consistently exceptional outcomes.
The PowerPress is even heavier than the aforementioned TUSY model, however, so you can’t take it with you. But for most commercial enterprises that shouldn’t cause issue, and the PowerPress remains a great heat press for shirts!
Best Fast Heat Press for Shirts: Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press
- Voltage: 110 volt Power: 1400 watts, Heat Press Style Clampshell
- Temperature Range: 0-500
- Electronic time and heat control
- Silicon pad lightly glued down for easy replacement
- Pressure adjustable
- The adjustable pressure system accommodates materials of varying thicknesses, enhancing versatility
- The nonstick silicone pad surface is ideal for achieving top-notch custom prints on shirts, totes, or flat surfaces
- Precise electronic temperature controls and timers ensure consistency in your heat transfer projects
- Some users may find the small digital display challenging to read
Another offering from Fancierstudio, this digital heat press comes with a number of the same features that make its commercial cousin so successful, and works great for household use and small businesses.
One of the standout features of the Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press is its adaptability. While clamshell-style heat presses are typically not the go-to for thicker materials, this machine defies the norm. Whether you’re working on a delicate project or something more substantial, this heat press has got you covered. Constructed with a robust, heavy-duty steel frame, this heat press is designed to withstand the rigors of frequent use, making it a reliable choice for hobbyists and small businesses. Plus, it comes equipped with a dedicated timer and heat controllers, ensuring consistent results in repeat applications.
That said, the digital format isn’t ideal: I for one struggled to use the model’s small LCD display, and that may cause errors when configuring your heat press settings. For most, however, this shouldn’t be an issue, and this heat press should definitely be counted among the best in the business!
Best Budget Heat Press for Shirts: Cricut Easy Press 2
- Size 22.5 x 22.5 cm, great for simple t-shirts, tote bags, pillows, aprons and more
- Professional heat transfer results without the guesswork
- Advanced heating plate design with ceramic coated surface
- Compatible with all Infusible Ink products and most major brands of ironing materials
- NOTE Item includes UK plug.
- The Cricut Easy Press 2 offers an affordable entry into the world of heat presses
- The machine’s compact design allows for easy storage when not in use
- Its temperature range reaching 400°F makes it well-suited for sublimation heat transfers
- Smaller plate size could limit certain designs
For the most affordable quality heat press on the market, consider the Cricut Easy Press 2. This impressive machine has earned its place as best for beginners, and here’s why: it combines user-friendliness with effective heat transfer capabilities. Available in three different sizes to suit your needs, the Cricut Easy Press 2 boasts features that simplify the heat press process while ensuring professional results.
One of the standout features of this heat press is its generous 12″x10″ surface area. This size ensures even pressure distribution, a crucial factor for achieving excellent results in your heat transfer projects. While some might wonder if an ordinary iron could do the job, the Easy Press 2’s larger surface area sets it apart, delivering superior outcomes.
If you’ve never used a heat press, fear not; the Cricut Easy Press 2 is designed for a hassle-free user experience. Setting it up and getting started is as easy as using a phone. Remember to configure your settings correctly before you begin, guided by the user-friendly display on top of the unit.
This heat press, often described as a cross between a heat press and an iron, is perfect for artists, DIY T-shirt enthusiasts, beginners, and creative teens. It’s worth noting that it may not be the top choice for mass production or commercial use due to its size and capacity limitations.
Best Premium Heat Press for Shirts: ZENY Heat Press Machine
- Advanced digital combo heat press machine can transfer colorful pictures and characters of sublimating and dissolved printing ink onto ceramics, glasses and textiles such as cotton, flax, chemical fiber, nylon, etc.
- New multifunctional heat press machine, LED display.This all-in-one press can be used for T-shirts, caps, ceramic plates, ceramic tiles, mugs, coasters, mouse pads, jigsaw puzzles, lettering, other misc. fabrics & materials.
- Adjustable multi-spring pressure knob,Full 360-degree rotation of swing-away design,Allows the heating elements to be moved safely aside.
- Large 12″ x 15″ transfer plate,provides a big surface to create your own custom T-shirt. Full-range pressure-adjustment knob,Can be adjusted according to the thickness of the material.
- LCD Control Board: Fully digital temperature and time control. Temperature range 32 – 399 Fahrenheit degree (0 – 203 Centigrade), Timer control: 0 – 999 seconds.
- Many users have praised this heat press for consistently delivering high-quality results
- 5-in-1 design and ability to handle various materials
- The extended temperature range sets it apart, accommodating a broader range of applications
- Some users found that mastering this machine might take a bit of time and practice to achieve optimal results.
The ZENY JA0854 Professional Heat Press Machine is the best heat press that goes beyond simple t-shirt heat pressing. Its capabilities extend to a variety of exciting applications, making it a valuable addition to any crafting or small business endeavor. This advanced digital combo heat press machine transfers realistic images and text onto various surfaces, including ceramics, glasses, and textiles like cotton, flax, chemical fiber, and nylon. Whether customizing T-shirts, caps, ceramic items, mugs, coasters, mouse pads, or even tackling more intricate projects like jigsaw puzzles, this all-in-one press has you covered.
One of its standout features is the adjustable multi-spring pressure knob, simplifying the process of printing on materials of different thicknesses. The 360-degree swing-away design enhances safety by allowing the heating elements to be moved aside when needed. With a generously sized 12″ x 15″ transfer plate, you’ll have plenty of space to bring your creative visions to life. The LCD control board ensures precision in heat transfer projects, offering digital temperature and time control. The temperature range spans 32 to 399 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 203 degrees Centigrade), and the timer can be set for up to 999 seconds.
No: Sublimation is a three-step process that – whilst difficult to master – can be simple to learn.
Whilst many entry-level sublimation artists use an iron to press their designs, a heat press machine is a valuable investment for consistent and high-quality sublimation prints.
If you were looking for the best heat press for shirt printing, I hope you’ve found the ideal one for you. These are ideal for sublimating on clothing of any kind and color – from light shirts to dark shirts – and will allow you to create vibrant and high-quality designs!
If you’re looking for inspiration, why not check out some free sublimation designs?