Are you considering getting your first heat press or perhaps looking at upgrading to a newer model? If so, it is essential to make sure it has the following core features. Andy Rogers, marketing manager at Target Transfers, fills in the detail.
- Consistent heat across the top platen
This is probably the most important feature to look for when buying a heat press. If you do not have even heat across the top platen, you will struggle to fuse your garment. With inconsistent heat your vinyl or graphics are in danger of being under or over pressed. This can lead to large volumes of wastage. To test this, you can pick up an infrared heat gun for £20 to £30 at all good stockists.
A good way to measure the longevity of a potential heat press is too look at its warranty. Most manufacturers should offer you a lifetime warranty on the heating element of the press. This way you are guaranteed a press that can handle anything. From all day use through to occasional pressing, and will stand the test of time.
- Multiple heat settings
Not all heat press materials have the same finish. 10°C could make all the difference to a successful press, depending on the type of vinyl or graphic finish you are using. Make sure you can set an exact temperature on your press. This way no matter where you get your materials from, you will be able to fuse successfully without the design peeling off.
- Variable pressure
One of the most common mistakes made by first time users is to get the pressure of the press wrong. If you are pressing a T shirt, a hoodie or any other garment, they all require different pressures. Look for a press that will allow you to adjust the pressure of the top platen. This will either be in the form of a touchscreen or a knob above the top platen, that can be changed to the appropriate level. Pressure is generally on a scale of 1-10 for heat fusing.
Once you have ensured control of the heat and pressure of your press. You now need to consider the accuracy. One way of guaranteeing this is to get a press with a threadable bottom platen. This will allow you to get more of the garment over the lower platen. Giving you a more consistent and accurate surface area to press onto. If you are doing a high volume of pressing, it could also be worth considering a laser guided attachment. Surprisingly inexpensive, these can impose a grid onto the lower platen. Allowing you to have the garment and design pressed the same every time.
There are many different styles of press available. Be it one with dual platens, a swinger draw, air controlled pressure or a classic static press. It is always important to consider the space that the press will be situated. If it’s in the corner of a room/ factory then you may want a press that swings out to maximise room and efficiency. If the press is being moved to more than one location you may want a press with a caddie attached, to ensure full versatility.
- Staff considerations
When choosing a press, make sure you consider how it will be operated. If the press is running all day or even longer, you need to think about how the opening and closing of a press affects your team. For a press operated for prolonged periods of time, an auto-open press or an air assisted press is recommended. These styles ensure the physical impact of all-day pressing is minimal.
To get further functionality from your press it is worth considering getting some key accessories, such as the following.
- Interchangeable platens
A selection of interchangeable platens for the lower part of your press is a real game-changer. If you are pressing on the sleeves or legs, doing a run of baby clothes or even pressing on caps of trainers, get a press with quick release, which will allow you to change the platen in a matter of seconds. You can find a lower platen that will match your needs, even heated lower platens are now available.
- Lower platen protector
Protect your platen and garment and get extra efficiency. Putting a protector on your lower platen will make it easier to clean. Ensure the integrity of the garment by placing it on an area removed of imperfections. A protector with a smooth finish will make it easier to place and remove your garments from the press.
- Heat pillows
If you are decorating a garment with zips or intricate details that needs protecting, a heat pillow is the way forward. By placing a pillow under a particular area of your garment, you can raise the area for fusing and ensure only this area of the garment receives heat on it.