How to Choose the Right Heat Press

how to choose the right heat press

For more information on how to choose the right heat press, download your free copy of the Heat Press Buying Guide from Stahls’

Does your business have the right type of heat press? Could you benefit from upgrading? Whether your business is completely dependent on heat printing or if you only do a small percentage of heat printing, you may find that having a press with the most modern features will save you time, money and aggravation. When purchasing a new heat press, this information will help you make an educated buying decision.

The Style of Your Press

When you are looking for a heat press, you will notice that they come in different shapes, or styles. In the past, there were only two basic types, a swinger type or a clamshell type. With the swinger type, the top platen of the press is designed to swing to the left or the right. Clamshell models, as the name suggests, open on an upward angle. The drawback to using a clamshell model is that sometimes your work surface below the platen can become hot, and people have been known to burn their knuckles while arranging graphics on garments underneath the hot upper platen. On the pro side, clam heat presses are considered the most space-saving. The Stahls’ Auto Open Clam is one of our most popular models and it is designed to be one of the safest and widest opening clam styles in the world.  A few years ago, Stahls’ Hotronix introduced a third style of press, the industry’s first draw-type heat press. The draw press allows the user to pull the lower platen out to arrange graphics on garments, and then push it back in for printing. This design innovation was recognized as a space-saving idea, since one of the drawbacks of owning a swinger-style press is that you need more counter space. And more recently, Hotronix introduced the Stahls’ Hotronix® Fusion, a first-of-its-kind machine which can be used as a swing-away or a draw press. The press is designed to provide 360 degree access to the bottom platen, making it easier than ever before to slip on T-shirts, sweat shirts, and jackets. You no longer need a pad or pillow for bulky items or apparel with zippers or pockets. Just slide the item quickly and easily over the bottom platen. You can even turn the garment around while it is still on the press, for the fastest way ever to print both sides of the shirt. This is what is known as Threadability, a phrase Stahls’ coined to describe this ability.

Each style has its aficionados and as they say, you can get used to pretty much anything. But if you are using your heat press to print more than 15 shirts on a daily basis, you will soon discover that there is a wide range of design differences that can truly affect your productivity and enhance the user experience.

The Hotronix Air Fusion is the world's most popular heat press, for ease of use and production power.

The Hotronix Air Fusion is the world’s most popular heat press, for ease of use and production power.

How User-Friendly Is Your Heat Press?

In a survey of heat press users, one of the most important features in a heat press is the ability to automatically set the time and temperature. Older heat presses that don’t feature digital time and temperature controls not only offer less accuracy, but it is also cumbersome when you have to repeatedly manually reset the “buzz” timer. Some very rudimentary presses don’t even have timers.  All Stahls’ Hotronix® heat presses feature digitally controlled time and temperature gauges and are known to be the most accurate and reliable in the world. In addition, some models feature the ability to identify the pressure setting at which the press is working. Time, temperature and pressure are the three variables that need to be under control in order to have successful heat printing results. The more advanced your press is at determining and controlling these variables, the more confident you can be when heat printing any type of garment or fabric.

Additional Heat Press Features 

Even if  you are completely happy with the style of your press, as well as the way that you can control the time, temperature and pressure, some presses offer additional features. What else are you missing in your heat printing experience? What about automatic opening and programming capabilities?

If your press has an “auto-open” feature, the production process can be made more efficient. You will also be much less likely to burn or ruin garments because you weren’t there to open the press after the end of the printing cycle. There are several Hotronix models that open automatically—the main advantage of this feature is that you can be preparing the next garment while another garment is printing. You will be able to produce more shirts per hour.

When it comes to the ability to program your heat press, make sure this ability takes two-step heat printing processes into account. You often need to pre-press for a shorter time and do a second press for a different time setting. Constantly having to adjust your timer is tiresome. Which is why Hotronix automatic presses have the patented Twin Timer™ feature. This means that you can program two independent time settings for any two-step process without resetting the timer. It’s perfect for tacking, pre-heating garments, two-color applications and more.

And as we mentioned earlier, “Threadability” or the ability to load garments quickly and turn them over while still on the press, is another feature for which to look.

A Must For Direct to Garment Printers

In addition to automatic opening and the ability to program settings, there is another useful feature available in the Hotronix Hover Press. It is the only heat press available for curing direct-to-garment inks. If you own a direct-to-garment printer, this feature is something you should know about. The upper platen is designed to hover over the garment to ensure brighter colors and a stronger bond between ink and the garment. With this breakthrough technology, you never have to worry about direct-to-garment ink residue on your platen. It also has two modes, one for contact and the second for pressure. You can combine three settings, hover, pressure or a combination of both. If you don’t use direct-to-garment technology, you can still use the hover press to apply just about any type of heat printing graphic.

With all these improvements in heat printing technology, you may be starting to look at your 10-year old press in a different light. Is it time to update your heat press? For more information on comparing heat presses available from Stahls’, this helpful chart gives you an overview of all our models.



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