Best Heat Press Machine For Beginners

best heat press machine for beginners

Heat press machines can be used for many applications, both at home and for a business. If you’re a beginner to using a heat press, the process can seem very daunting, but a heat press is actually quite easy to use, once you have some practice.

Popular applications include putting logos and pictures on to t-shirts, bags, bed linen and tea towels and even printing on to mugs. Before you get started it’s important to know how heat presses work, what you need and which one is the best heat press machine for beginners.

What Is a Heat Press?

Heat press machines are a simple way to press artwork on to a number of different surfaces. Most heat press machines have two flat plates. The top one is heated and then the item you want to print on is placed on the bottom plate with the desired artwork on top. The two plates are then pressed together and the heat presses the artwork in to the fabric.

Round heat presses are used for items such as mugs, and while the process is slightly different, it still uses heat to press the artwork on to the mug.

Heat presses are easier to use and cheaper than screen printing, so they are a great choice of machine for anyone who has a budget or who does not need to print in high quantities.

Types of Heat Press

As with all machinery, heat presses come in different types and sizes, depending on your requirements.

Clamshell Heat Press or Top Opening

These types of heat press are the most popular. They have a hinge to open and close the top plate and they can also be used in the home as they are smaller machines. To operate, the top is raised, the material and artwork are placed on the bottom plate, and the top plate is then lowered and pressed.

Clamshell heat press machines are best used for thinner materials, such as t-shirts, bags and tea towels, as the hinge controls how far the plates close.

Swinger / Swing Away Heat Press

A swing away heat press requires more room than a clamshell heat press, as the top ‘swings away’ from the bottom. This type of heat press allows you more room to lay out your fabric and it can also be used on thicker objects such as mouse mats and even mugs.

Draw Heat Press

This is very similar to a swinger model, but in this case the lower plate is the one which swings away, meaning you can place your item safely away from the heated upper plate.

Sublimation T-shirt Heat Press

As the name suggests, this is used mainly for t-shirts. This machine is designed to ensure that the dye from the transfer paper will not bleed in to the t-shirt. They also have a larger surface area, making it easier to lay out your fabric. As most people start with printing on to t-shirts, this could be a good choice as one of the best heat press machines for beginners.

All machines can be either manually operated or automatic, and all can be used at home or in the workplace.

What Can a Heat Press Be Used For?

Heat presses are a great way to create personalised items for your business, or presents for family and friends.

They can be used with fabrics, plastic, mouse mats and ceramics, as long as you check first that the surface you are printing on to is compatible. The best heat press machine for beginners is one which will allow you to use a number of different materials. Uses for a heat press are many and just some of the items you can create are:

  • T-shirts, sweat shirts and sports shirts with any logo or design you choose
  • Tea towels, cushion covers and bedding to brighten up the home or to sell with your own unique design.
  • Mouse mats to promote your business.
  • Mugs for marketing or for personalising as gifts.
  • Hand bags and make up bags.
  • Carrier bags for your business.
  • Caps for your sports team

Before you start, check that the heat press you are buying can handle the items you want to create.

What Do You Need?

The first thing you need to organise is the space to site your heat press. You need to allow yourself plenty of room to open the press and be able to place your materials and transfers inside. You will need a flat, stable surface with access to a plug, and ideally allow some space for laying out all your materials and transfers while you work.

Remember that your heat press may well be heavy so it won’t be easy to move it once it’s set up. It’s also a good idea to have a window open when you use it. Don’t be put off if your heat press creates a smell the first few times you use it. This is normal and the smell will go away the more you use the press.

Once you have your space organised, you need to know what you will be printing on and how you will be applying your artwork.

can you heat press on polyester

Heat presses are by their very nature, very hot, so some fabrics will not work well with them. Synthetic materials, for example, should be avoided, while thicker fabrics such as cotton, nylon and polyester provide a better result.

Before printing on any fabric, wash it and iron it so there you have a clean, flat surface to work with. If you intend to print on mugs or mouse mats, wipe down the surface to remove any dirt or grease and check that the heat press you have will handle them.

Your artwork will be applied using special transfer paper. You create your design on a pc using any design software and print this out using the transfer paper. The paper will then sit on top of your chosen fabric in the heat press.

Operating a Heat Press

While all heat presses are simple to use, you must follow the right steps to get the best result. Most presses use a similar method of operation, but always follow the instructions included with your press.

Heat presses are simply plugged in to the mains using a normal plug and switched on to heat up prior to use.

The best heat press machine for beginners should have a thermostat to help you choose the desired temperature. Heating times vary but you should allow between 10 -20 minutes. If you are unsure what temperature to use, refer to your manual. While it heats up, the press will have a light on and this will go off when the desired temperature has been reached. Don’t worry if the light keeps coming back on. The press will slowly lose heat and the thermostat will just help to keep it at a steady temperature.

Depending on your chosen type of press, either lift the handle or swing the plate to open it. Carefully lay out your chosen fabric then place the transfer paper where you want your design to be. Remember to lay the paper face down.

Close the press until it locks in place and set the timer. The instruction manual in your press should tell you how long to allow for each type of fabric. When the timer clicks off, open the press and carefully peel the transfer paper off. The design will stay in place on your fabric.

Leave your items for up to 24 hours before washing or pressing to make sure the design has taken properly.
Your first few attempts may not be perfect, but if you persevere you’ll soon be experimenting with more complex designs. You may want to use an old t-shirt or old mug to practice on. This will give you the chance to check your print is lined up right and that the colours are all printing as you want them.

Choosing The Best Heat Press Machine For Beginners

While heat presses all work in a similar fashion, there are some which we feel are best suited to beginners. Here are a few suggestions which we think offer you the best all round machine for use at home or at work, we’re sure our heat press reviews will help you choose!

PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital Sublimation T-Shirt Heat Press Machine, 15″x15″ – Best Heat Press

PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital 15-by-15-inch Sublimation T-Shirt Heat Press Machine Review

The Power Press Heat Press is a lovely easy to use heat press which makes it easy to get started and is ready to use straight from the box. It is a clam model, so the top opens upwards, allowing you to place your materials inside. It takes up minimal space in the home or office as the printing area is just 15” by 15” in size.

The top plate is Teflon coated, so you don’t need to invest in coated sheets. This plate is also hard wearing, easy to clean and will not damage your materials.

For beginners to heat pressing, the temperature can be an issue but this press uses an LCD control board which allows you to choose the exact temperature and time you want, with a temperature range from 0 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating time is between 10 to 15 minutes giving you time to check your transfer and material before you get to work. An indicator light shows you when it’s ready to use and it also beeps to tell you when your transfer is ready.

This press is a good press for:

  • Excellent heat press machine for t shirts, sweatshirts, aprons
  • bags, tea towels, cushion covers
  • mouse mats
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • ID badges
  • ceramic tiles

Fancierstudio Power Heat press Digital Heat Press 15 x 15 Sublimation Heat Press – Awesome Heat Transfer Machine

A top opening, or clam model, which will have you up and running in no time as it requires minimal set up, making it a good choice as one of the best heat press machines for beginners. The silicon rubber base is fixed and the press comes with a Teflon coated sheet for the upper plate. The print area is 15” by 15” so it does not take up too much space, and it is also a sublimation heat press, which gives better finishes to t-shirts.

The temperature range is from 0 to 699 degrees Fahrenheit with a time range of up to 999 seconds, or 16.5 minutes. This helps you to lay everything out ready before you start work. It has a timer and heat control and a pull down handle which locks the plates together. Controlling the pressure is done using a simple knob on the top of the press.

It will notify you when it has reached the desired temperature and will turn itself off at the end of the chosen time.

This press is a good press for:

  • Perfect heat press machine for t shirts, sweatshirts, aprons
  • baby clothes
  • bags, tea towels, cushion covers
  • mouse mats
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • ID badges
  • ceramic tiles

Check out the latest price of it here (amazon link)

ePhotoInc 15 x 15″ T-Shirt Heat Transfer Press Sublimation Heat Press Machine

This ePhotoInc press is a nice, easy to use press which gives good results and which can be used straight out of the box.

The compact plate size of the heat press 15×15 makes it a good choice for use at home or at work, and is a good choice of machine for beginners. It comes with a Teflon sheet for the top plate, which helps to protect your fabric and is easy to keep clean.

The model is a top opening one, or clam type, and includes a handle which pulls down and locks the plates together. There is a pressure control knob on the top which can be turned to increase or decrease the pressure.

It features an LED control panel which allows you to set the time and temperature to exactly how you want them. Temperature ranges from room temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and the timer runs up to 999 seconds or 16.5 minutes.

This press is a good press for:

  • Great t shirts press machine, sweatshirts, aprons
  • baby clothes
  • bags, tea towels, cushion covers
  • mouse mats
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • ID badges
  • ceramic tiles and plates

See more user reviews at amazon.


Hopefully now you have an idea of what you need to know to get you started and what to look for when purchasing the best heat press machine for beginners.

Getting the most out of your heat press takes practice, so if you have a few failures at the beginning, use your mistakes to find out what you need to do and more importantly, the things you should not do.

Just remember to check your manual for guidelines about fabrics and times and stick to these. As you grow in confidence you can start creating more complex designs and begin to vary the materials you work with.

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