Heat Presses… There are a lot of options like timer, temperature, size, pressure, and such. But the single biggest decision is based on what style: Clam Shell or Swing Away. The clam shell is a very popular one because it’s compact. The swing away is great because you can press more items of various shapes, textures, and sizes a little easier.
I thought I wanted a clam shell. It takes up only as much space as the base does. It’s just a matter of pulling down the handle to press. I like the simplicity of it. I did notice that the top heat plate pulls down at an angle though, which means I have less room to arrange my item on the press. Also, if pressing something like glass, there would be more pressure at the top of the design sooner than the bottom, which could be a slight problem. Overall, I think the clam shell is great for small spaces when pressing mostly shirts or similar.
Then I decided to research the swing away style. It’s available in the same sizes as the clam shell. It has all the same features and options available too. The biggest difference is the top heat plate. Instead of pressing the top plate down from top to bottom, the entire heat plate presses flat down meaning the plate meets the design at the same time across your design. In order to take advantage of this, the top heat plate does swing away from the base, so you have to have somewhere to swing it.
After weighing all the pros and cons of each style, I decided to go with the Swing Away. My hope with that decision is that I won’t need another heat press for a very long time. Anything I decide to do should be achieved with the Swing Away heat press. It gives a little more flexibility in what you can put on it. It’s much easier to position canvases, blankets, shirts, and more.
Upon setup, I decided to put mine on a moving cart. I roll it out when in use so I have space to swing the top heat plate behind the press. I push the cart back against the wall when it is not in use. That has worked extremely well for me. I had thought about putting it at the edge of my desk to swing away towards the open room, but ultimately, that wasn’t the best setup for my space.
You can browse heat presses here. Most people buy on Amazon or on Ebay. The Swing Away heat press I got also has attachments for sublimation. That’s another topic entirely requiring a different kind of printer, material, etc. I put all those parts in a box together for now, though I do plan to try out the hat, mug, and plate attachments in the near future using HTV.
As for all the other options and features, I recommend getting one with at least a 9 x 12 inch base and easy-to-adjust temperature and pressure controls. I used my timer in the beginning, but it is loud when it sounds and I usually just count in my head because it’s for such a short amount of time, so the timer hasn’t been a feature to make or break my decision.
I, myself, was determined not to invest in a heat press so soon, but once I started using HTV, I had to consider it because each item I pressed with an iron was like an hour workout at the gym. I was always hot, sweaty, and tired after pressing. Plus, even at the hottest setting on my iron, it wasn’t hot enough to bond the vinyl, so I always experienced peeling after washes regardless of how delicate. Investing in a heat press is one of the best decisions I have made when it comes to my vinyl interest, hobby, and business.
Which style do you prefer and why? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading!