A solid heat press is the final step in getting heat transfer projects that look professional and clean. Here's a look at some of the best ones for most at-home users.
A heat press machine is a good investment for anyone who loves heat transfer projects. Without one, graphic printing companies would have a hard time reaching their full potential. But even those who craft on a regular basis and don’t plan to make their heat transferring a professional pursuit can benefit from a heat press machine.
With the right heat transfer printer and a heat press, you’d be surprised how well your craft projects can turn out at home.
These machines are easy to use, even for people who have no experience with related machinery or aren’t very technical. In addition, heat press machines are efficient space-wise and don’t take up much room, print economically, and leave a smooth, quality image.
But perhaps the best benefit of all is the speed of heat press machines. Especially in comparison with other devices for printing graphics, these machines can church out finished designs in mere seconds. Using a hand iron takes manual pressure and more time, while a heat machine has a control panel for programming your specifications, and carries out your needs efficiently and quickly with hardly any effort from you.
Let’s look at some key features that should be included in a heat press machine to make it as easy as possible to make heat transfer projects.
What to Look for in a Heat Press Machine
- An easy-to-use control panel: Not everyone is a computer whiz, so the controls on your heat press machine should be easy to use, even if it’s your very first time using one of these machines.
- Adjustable pressure and heat settings: Different fabrics and surfaces require different heat and pressure levels, so find a machine that has multiple settings.
- Sturdy and long-lasting: If you are taking the time to invest in one of these machines, it’s because you want to get a lot of use out of it, so make sure it’s built to last.
- A compact design: You shouldn’t have to sacrifice a lot of space in your home or office to have an easy way to make your heat transfers. Find a machine that won’t take up too much room and will still work well.
Based on these features, we’ve compiled a list of the best at-home heat press machines on the market today.
The Best Heat Press Machines for Home Use
- PowerPress Industrial-Quality 15″ x 15″ Heat Press
- Hotronix Fusion 16″ x 20″ Heat Press Swing-Away
- Geo Knight DK20S Digital Swinger 16″ x 20″ Heat Press
- Hotronix Maxx 16″ x 20″ Digital Heat Press
- Fancierstudio Powerpress Heat Press
Most Popular Pick
PowerPress Industrial-Quality 15″ x 15″ Heat Press
The most popular pick on our list, the PowerPress Industrial Quality Heat Press has been improved from its previous model. The rubber silicon base on the model is glued down now, there’s a coating on the included heat platen, and a coated sheet included with the machine.
The machine opens upward, making it compact and saving space in your home or office. Use it for applying heat transfer to ceramic tiles, ID badges, puzzles, mouse pads, purses or bags, garments, and more.
In order to get comfortable with the different heat and time settings on this machine, get some fabric or an old shirt and test them out before getting started. Many will find that 315 degrees is a good temperature and works well with fifteen second applications. This should work whether you are using glitter, flocked, or smooth vinyl and is an ideal setting for beginner heat press users.
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Best Professional Choice
Hotronix Fusion 16″ x 20″ Heat Press Swing-Away
This brand was born out of the simple need to find a solution for a problem: inferior heat press machines. The best professional pick on our list, the Hotronix Fusion Heat Press comes with a detailed and helpful operator’s manual. Inside, you will find color-coded instructions and steps for setting up and using the machine.
With this model, you are able to pre-program the setting for heat application, and then get to the saved option easily from the touch screen. Although the machine isn’t cheap, you get what you pay for and this sturdy model will stand the test of time. It’s professional, commercial quality.
The touch screen is high-tech, programmable, easy to navigate, and feels just like using a computer. Please note that with this sturdy design, the machine is very heavy, so make sure you have a couple of strong people helping you moving the Hotronix machine.
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Best Upgrade Pick
Geo Knight DK20S Digital Swinger 16″ x 20″ Heat Press
The Geo Knight Heat Press DK20S is our best upgrade pick. The brand, which began in 1885, has a well-earned reputation for quality products and great customer service.
They have been manufacturing die cutting and industrial press products for more than a century. The company is headquartered in Brockton, Massachusetts, but ships worldwide.
The steel frame machine is solid and heavy, so make sure you have a suitable surface for it to sit on that is equally solid. The product comes with a great warranty, automatic timer (digital), 70 preset options, and full-on temperature control. It also comes with interchangeable tables and can take materials that are 2 inches thick or less.
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Hotronix Maxx 16″ x 20″ Digital Heat Press
Back in the ‘80s, heat presses had inaccurate timers, fluctuations in temperature, uneven and unreliable pressure, and sometimes even cold spots. That wasn’t satisfactory, so Ted Stahl, the company owner, decided to make something better, dedicating his time to creating an affordable, quality heat press. That is how the Hotronix Maxx Digital Heat Press was born.
This product line has digitally designed controls for ease of use, and the patented pressure adjustment function makes edge to edge heating and evenly applied pressure not just possible, but easy. Complete with digital temperature and time readouts, this machine also comes with lifelong tech support and a great warranty.
The machine’s opening is 10 percent bigger than most other presses available, allowing for safer and more precise garment positioning. This also allows for an easier layout of numbers, letters, and other transfer materials. Though heavy, the equipment is portable and great for those starting up their own business.
Many heat press users say that finding the right pressure setting is the most difficult aspect of using these machines, but this model comes preset to the tightest pressure possible. If this isn’t the setting you want, it’s quick and easy to change, as well. Overall this machine is a great buy.
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Best Budget Option
Fancierstudio Powerpress Heat Press
Coming in as the best budget pick on our list, this manageable machine is new and light weight. It has a unique, rotating upper heat platen that turns 360 degrees. Being able to move aside the heating element will reduce the odds of touching the heat distribution area on accident.
This allows you to work with your transfers and garments more freely on the bottom plate.
The machine has had the rubber silicon base glued down and extra coating added to the heat platen. The machine is compact compared to other models, saving space, and though cheaper than the others on the list, doesn’t sacrifice quality for affordability. It is simple to use, heats up fast, and only requires a simple press of the temperature adjustment and timer buttons to work.
When your garment is done, the machine will beep, which is helpful if you need to step away from it for a moment. This product also comes with an included Teflon sheet, so there’s no need to purchase one separately.
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3 Important Tips for Using your Heat Press Machine Correctly
- Preheat your garment each time: This simple step will help release wrinkles and moisture that can have a negative impact on transfer adhesion. You can preheat by locking down the press onto each garment for at least a few seconds. Do this until you don’t see any moisture being released, which might take a few times.
- Pay attention to settings: Any time you use a transfer adhesive, it will have specific recommended settings included. These should be followed to ensure that they work as well as they are meant to. Longer times and higher temperatures on the heat press are not always better, so make sure you’re using it appropriately for each individual project.
- Find compatible surfaces and fabric: Look at the recommendations for what your transfer vinyl sticks to. A lot of them work well for polyester and cotton, while others are meant for nylon materials. Find the right transfer for the fabric you’re using to get optimal results.
Follow these guidelines and your heat press machine will run smoothly and produce beautiful finished products for your business, personal enjoyment, or gifts.