A heat press is a machine designed to imprint a graphic on a product, such as a t-shirt, by applying heat and pressure for a predetermined amount of time. Even Though heat presses are most often used to apply designs to fabrics, there are specially designed presses can also be used to imprint designs on other products like mugs, plates, jigsaw puzzles, caps, and other products.
Both manual and automatic heat presses are manufactured and made widely available. There is also a new style of press that is considered semi-automatic that has entered the market as well, this allows for a manual closing process with an automatic, electromagnetic opening. The new digital technology in some of the newer machines allows for precise control of the levels of heat and pressure and timing. The most common types of heat press use a flat platen to apply heat and pressure to the product. With the “clamshell” design, the top heat element in the press opens like a clamshell, while in the “swing-away” design, the top heat platen will swing away from the bottom platen. Another type of design known as a “draw style press” requires that the bottom platen to be pulled out like a drawer away from the heat for preparation of the graphic. Vacuum presses use the air pressure to provide all of the necessary force and can reach high psi ratings.
A majority of the heat presses on the market today use an aluminium upper-heating element that has a heat rod cast into the aluminium or a heating wire attached directly to the element. For high-volume businesses that involve the continuous printing of products, automatic shuttle and dual platen heat transfer presses are used. The products to be printed are continuously loaded onto the lower platen then rotated under the heat platen, where the necessary heat and pressure will be applied.
The pattern then gets printed in sublimating ink/dye on sublimating or transfer paper which allows for the pattern to transfer. You can get some truly amazing patterns and wonderful effects using this technique.
Heat presses are used to permanently apply a heat transfer to the surface of a product. The most common transfer types are Heat Transfer Vinyl that can be cut with a Vinyl Cutter, Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl, Inkjet Transfer Paper, Laser Transfer Paper, Plastisol Transfers, and Sublimation. Using the proper Heat Press to apply a heat transfer is the best way to ensure that you’ll have accurate time, temperature, and pressure, which are all extremely important to the transfer process.
Types of Heat Presses Available
All heat presses can be broken down in two main design styles:
1) Flatbed Heat Press: include Clamshell (EHP), Swing Away(ESP), and Draw(EDP). There are also some types of heat presses that can combine at least two of those three options, either as a Clammshell / Draw heat press, or a Swing / Draw Hybrid.
2) Rotary Heat Press: Roll to roll type (ERT), Multifunctional type(EMT), or small format type (EST).
When considering witch heat press is right for you, remember that heat presses are available in manual, semi-automatic, fully automatic using compressed air or hydraulic system. With all the options available be sure to research and find what will be the best press for your needs.