Articles Printers

What is a Heat Press Machine? Basic Guide

Heat Press Machines are specifically designed for transferring heat and pressure on different material for printing.

Heat transfer is an important step for different kinds of printing. Heat press machines come with the digital thermostat and timer for controlling time and heat while printing. This allows you to print on fabric and other materials.

The machines have revolutionized the printing process and can be used at home and for your small to medium printing house.

In this article, we discuss “What is a Heat Press Machine”.

We will also look into how it works and other relevant questions.

The Heat Press is a simple machine that transfers heat and pressure for a controlled period of time to any material.

The pressure and heat help to transfer prints onto the surface with accuracy.

Heat press machines can heat different materials including clothes, garments, paper, bags, hats, shoes, mugs, ceramic, plates, jigsaw puzzles, pots, vases, and many other materials.

How Heat Press Machine Works?

A common heat press comes with a platen that is used for spreading the fabric over.

The machines have an aluminum upper layer with the heating element underneath it.

Heating elements have wires or rode cast in aluminum for transferring heat.

The heat and pressure are applied on the surface of any material, depending on what type of heat press machine you have.

Types of Heat Press Machines?

There are four general types of Heat Press machines.

Clamshell Heat Press

The machine opens like an oyster shell and can print on any object you throw into it like mugs, bottles, boxes, artwork, or anything you want. Clamshell is not suitable for thick garments or padded mouse.

Swinger heat press

As the name suggests, heating platen swings away in this type, and you can easily move or adjust the material on lower platen.

The swinger machines are good for thick or padded garments too.

Draw Heat Press
draw heat press

It is little like the swinging machines, but the only difference is that the lower platen will be pulling towards you. It has a moving surface.

Vacuum Press

This press uses air pressure to provide force on any material.

How to Use a Heat Press Machine?

Many types of heat press machines are available, and each comes with its own manual. But the basic process remains the same.

Here we have explained the process of using a heat press. This section will help you understand what is a heat press machine in detail.

1. Adjust the Heat and Time

The machines come with a digital timer for adjusting your required temperature and time.

Both temperature and heat vary depending on the material you are printing on and the type of printing.

For example few fabrics like Polyester cannot take much heat, so you need to set less heat and time.

Knowing the exact time and temperature required for a specific fabric is a part of the heating process, and the printing person must know how long to leave the fabric inside the press and what temperature should be enough for transferring the design.

2. Place the Material On Platen

Place the fabric on the platen with the right side up.

Remove all creases from the surface make sure there are no more creases or folds, or you can print an uneven design.

3. Preheat the Fabric

Most printers first preheat the fabric without placing the design on fabric.

Preheating fabric cleans the surface if there are any creases or moisture on the fabric.

4. Set the Design Paper

Set the design paper on the surface that you are using for transferring print.

For sublimation or vinyl printing, the carrier sheet should be placed accurately. Make sure the placement is correct; last thing you want is a crooked design.

5. Close the Lid

Close the lid carefully, and it will press the fabric underneath. Let it sit for a while until the timer notifies according to the time you have set.

6. Remove the Paper When it is Hot

If you are using a carrier paper for transferring the design, remove it while it is still hot.

Once it gets cool, It won’t peel off accurately.

What Type of Printing can Make Use Heat Press?

A heat press can be used in many types of printing for transferring the digital print on any material.

You can use Heat Press machines for these types of printing.

Vinyl Printing

With heat transfer vinyl, the design is printed on vinyl sheets. Heat Press transfer the design on surface and the carrier sheet is removed afterwards.

Sublimation Printing

In sublimation printing, design is transferred to a special paper using special ink. With heat, ink is soaked into the fabric evaporating the carrier sheets.

Plastisol Transfer

Plastisol is a special ink with melted PVC or plastic pigments. The printed design printed on special paper, and later it is transferred to any surface with heat transfer.

Laser Transfer Paper

Laser printers are used to print designs on special laser printable transfer paper. The design is transferred on different materials using heat press machines.

Inkjet Transfer Paper

It has the same process of printing design using an inkjet printer on a special two-layered paper that is later transferred to any fabric with a heat press machine.

In case if you serious about starting a business, I recommend watching this video:

Are Heat Press Machines Expensive?

Heat Press machines are surprisingly cost-effective, and the value it brings to your small to medium business makes them all the more priceless.

One time investment in a small machine allows you to complete many orders of printing different material in large batches.

It can be a great investment for running your small printing house at home. Printing customized t-shirts, mugs, vases, bags, and different other material becomes easy, and with proper marketing you can earn handsomely by selling these creative items.

Related: How To Print Stickers Step By Step


In this article we talked about what is a heat press machine and we looked at various other related questions like how it is used.

All in all, heat press machines have a lot of utility. You can buy one and show off your creativity in many ways. You can even start a small business.

But before you embark on buying and running a business, make sure you are well familiar with different printing types, papers, inks and fabrics.

Knowing each in detail can bring finesse and quality in your work. Using a heat press is easy, but you need to know what type of ink suits a fabric for a durable design.