Whether you are new to sublimation and want to add a personal touch to your t-shirts, or you want to improve the quality and efficiency of your transfers, you are going to need the best heat press for shirts. A heat press isn’t essential, with iron-on transfers still very much viable, however, this method comes with certain limitations. No matter if it’s a hobby or a business, a heat press machine is going to enable you to transfer your sublimation designs quicker, and with more consistency.
These machines come equipped with heat plates of varying sizes, ready to handle not only t-shirts but also plates, mouse pads, keychains, coaters, and more. Moreover, T-shirt heat presses are efficient and powerful tools, offering different power outputs and the flexibility to adjust temperature and time settings. They also boast sleek and compact designs, fitting seamlessly into various spaces.
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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Ideal heat press machine types for shirts
When selecting the suitable heat press machine for your sublimation shirt printing needs, it’s essential to recognize that these machines, despite their similar appearances, come in distinct types, each tailored to specific tasks. Here, we’ll explore the fundamental types of heat-press machines that work best for shirts.
Clamshell Heat-Press Machine
A clamshell heat-transfer machine works just like its name suggests – it opens and closes like a clamshell with a hinge connecting its upper and lower plates. Both beginners and experienced professionals like this design for a few good reasons. It’s super easy to use and doesn’t take up much space, making it great for many people. Clamshell machines are good at printing designs on thin, flat things like T-shirts, tote bags, and sweatshirts. However, it’s worth mentioning that this style might not be the best choice if you want to put designs on thicker materials. That’s because it might have trouble spreading the pressure evenly across the plate’s surface, and that’s important for getting good transfers.
Portable Heat-Press Machine
Portable heat-press machines are designed for artists who want to try customizing clothing without spending much money. These machines are lightweight and meant for small-scale heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and dye-sublimation transfers on shirts and tote bags. They’re a cost-effective way to get started with heat press transfers quickly. However, it’s worth noting that portable machines can be a bit challenging to use when it comes to applying pressure evenly.
So, when hunting for the perfect heat press machine for shirts, consider these two main types and their suitability for your specific needs.
Best heat press machine for shirts: TUSY T-Shirt Press
- 【15 x 15 IN HEAT PRESS MACHINE】 The platen is covered with thickened teflon, heat resistance and easy to clean. You can get perfect colors for almost all flat items, such as T-shirts, sports uniform, jersey, tote bags, mouse pad and puzzles.
- 【DIGITAL LCD CONTROL BOX】Separate digital readout for time & temperature make operation clearer. Improved digital box keeps accurate control of time and temperature, thus brings perfect color to your printing! Temperature Range: 32 – 482 ℉, Time Control: 0 – 999 seconds, Power: 1400W, Voltage: 110V.
- 【UPGRADED OVERHEAT PROTECTION】: When the temperature of the heat press is too high, it can be automatically turned off to avoid accidents like burning and fire, super safe for you to use.
- 【COMBINATION OF QUALITY AND SAFETY】With improved commercial grade steel frame, TUSY heat press can withstand high volume of work with a longer product life. The clamshell design offers a full view of the garment layout, takes less space for storage, thus easy and friendly for beginners. And it’s also portable for you business!
- 【TIMELY & SKILLFUL AFTER-SALES SERVICE】 TUSY puts customers’ using experience in the first place. If you have any problems about heat press machine, feel free to contact us, and we will give skillful and responsible reply in 24 hours with great patience!
- The machine offers a spacious 15×15-inch working area, providing ample room for heat transfer projects
- Adjusting pressure has never been easier with its pressure knob conveniently located on the heat plate
- Including a lower handle enhances user convenience and safety, preventing the machine from moving unexpectedly
- No specific cons
Introducing the TUSY T-Shirt Press, an affordable heat press for shirts. Unlike the PowerPress and Fancierstudio models, the TUSY heat press machine sports a unique design. It offers some improved features, making it a noteworthy contender in the world of heat presses.
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.
Another handy feature that sets the TUSY T-Shirt Press apart is the presence of a lower handle on the platen. This handle proves invaluable in preventing the machine from inadvertently moving when you open it, adding a layer of convenience and safety to your heat-pressing tasks.
An instruction manual is included to help you get started and make the most of this machine. Moreover, you can find helpful online videos and a wealth of positive reviews from satisfied users, which can serve as valuable resources in your heat-pressing journey.
Best t-shirt heat press for professionals: 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 PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital Heat Press is a sturdy and versatile machine 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. It’s also unafraid of high temperatures, capable of reaching up to 455 degrees Fahrenheit, making it well-suited for demanding applications like sublimation transfers.
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.
Honorable mention: Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press 15 x 15
- 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
15-by-15-inch working area and a nonstick silicone pad offer plenty of room for your creative projects. With a temperature range from 0 to a scorching 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s primed and ready for sublimation applications and various heat transfer projects.
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. It boasts an adjustable pressure system that can handle the demands of materials with varying thicknesses. Whether 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.
Best beginner heat press machine 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
Introducing the Cricut Easy Press 2, a heat press tailor-made for home use and an ideal choice for beginners. 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 value 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.
How to heat press a shirt: Step-by-step
A heat press is a fantastic tool for adding vinyl cutouts or transferring paper designs to your shirts. While it’s not overly complicated, mastering this process can impact the quality of your finished shirt.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to heat press a shirt:
- First, ensure you have a stable surface for your heat press. Even smaller presses can get quite hot, so stability is essential.
- Set the temperature and pressure on your press. Refer to your press’s manual or the information on the HTV package for specific guidelines, as different fabrics and materials may require different settings.
- You’re ready to begin once your press reaches the desired temperature, typically in a minute or two.
- Prepare your shirt by briefly pressing it on the lower plate. This step removes wrinkles and creates a smooth surface for your designs.
- Carefully position your HTV cutouts or transfer paper designs on the shirt, ensuring they are where you want them. Be cautious not to touch the heated upper plate.
- Some vinyl types may require a protective Teflon sheet on top of the design, so consult your HTV package for guidance.
- Close the press over the shirt and design using the handle. Follow the recommended time in your press’s manual or on the HTV package.
- After the designated time, open the press and gently peel away the carrier paper or transfer paper from the design. If using certain vinyl types, you may need to peel while the vinyl is still hot.
How long and at what temperature to heat press a shirt
The duration and temperature required for heat pressing a shirt depend on the fabric and the specific vinyl or transfer you plan to use. Typically, you can locate the suggested pressing times in your heat press’s user manual and on the product packaging. If you would like further help on your sublimation journey, We have written an in-depth guide on the best heat press settings.
Here are some general suggestions:
Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV): Typically, HTV only needs about ten to fifteen seconds in the press. However, specialty HTV types like flocked vinyl might require around fifteen seconds at a lower heat.
Printed Transfer Designs: Apply pressure for approximately 20 seconds.
Screen-Printed Transfers: The time can vary depending on the thickness of the design, ranging from ten to thirty seconds.
Polyester: Be cautious with polyester shirts because they can melt or scorch if exposed to too much heat. Try to limit the press time to ten seconds or less.
Refer to your heat press owner’s manual or the product packaging for precise temperature settings. Here are some common heat press temperatures for different materials:
For light-colored cotton, it’s best to set the temperature at 350°F. Polyester requires a lower temperature of 270°F. Regular heat transfer vinyl (HTV) performs well at 315°F, while glitter HTV should be pressed at 320°F. When using inkjet transfer paper, a temperature of 325°F is suitable. For screenprint transfers, the recommended range is between 350°F and 375°F. These temperature guidelines help ensure successful heat transfer projects, allowing you to achieve the desired results on different materials.
The best heat press for shirts makes transferring and ensuring consistent, quality prints easier. We’ve explored some great options, from the powerful PowerPress to the user-friendly Cricut Easy Press 2. Follow your materials’ recommended temperature and time settings for the best results. You can turn plain t-shirts into unique, creative shirts with the right heat press machine and technique.