Best Heat Press Machine Reviews for T-shirt Printing
Adding unique designs to customize t-shirts is a great DIY project. You can make personalized gifts and cool shirts to support your fandom. Moreover, you can even have a side hustle of custom t-shirts specializing in a niche market.
While a heat press machine is not necessary for such DIY jobs, getting one would ensure that you get professional quality results. You should definitely consider getting one if you do t-shirt prints somewhat regularly or wish to start a business doing them.
With the plethora of variants available on the market, finding the best heat press machine can get a bit overwhelming. That is why in this article, we have reviewed and made a list of the top nine heat press machines you can get your hands on.
What Is a Heat Press Machine and Why Do You Need It
A heat press machine is an appliance that uses heat and pressure in order to transfer digital images on flat or curved surfaces. Some machines are designed to work only on flat surfaces, while others come with curved attachments for curved surfaces.
The machine contains a flat surface named platen. It heats up electronically and is made of aluminum or other heat conductive metals. The metals ensure the heat is distributed quickly and evenly. With one, you can make prints on not only t-shirts but also tote bags, mouse pads, caps, scarfs, plates, etc.
You can get permanent and long-lasting results from a heat press machine thanks to the combined use of pressure & heat. They make little mess than traditional dyes & inks. On top of that, they are also much easier & faster to use and give you unlimited customizability.
So, if you are serious about making prints on t-shirts, getting one would be a good investment.
Best Heat Press Machine Reviews for the Money
To make this list, we have done market research and went through countless accounts of personal experiences of consumers who have used these machines. So be assured that you will see only the best of the best. Let's begin!
1. PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital Sublimation Heat Press Machine
We are starting our list with a compact & easy to use heat press machine that will give you perfect results every time.
Are you a beginner who is just getting into heat pressing and would like to try an affordable yet functional machine that is easy to use and also give you good quality results? Look no further – this is it.
This heat press machine is a basic clamshell build that operates manually, which makes it easier for beginners with no prior knowledge. Using this machine is very simple and straightforward – there is no room for complications.
Furthermore, the heat platen is made with aluminum for quick and even heat distribution. Beware that this machine really does heat up super fast – one of the quickest we’ve seen! If you are not careful, it could cause accidents.
Digital LCD screen, timer, and stopwatch all make the process very easy for the user.
- Comes with a stopwatch which beeps when time is up
- Digital temperature & time control
- Silicone gel board adds stability & smoothness
- Heats up very fast – about 10 – 15 minutes
- Temperature range is wide: 32 to 455 degrees Fahrenheit
- Has replaceable fuse to protect the press from overheating and shocks
- Heat platen coated in Teflon to protect t-shirts
- Thickened aluminum heat platen ensures even stable heat
- The beeping sound upon completion is rather shrill; may become an annoyance
- Not automatic
- Instruction manual could be more thorough
2. Fancierstudio Digital Power T-shirt Heat Press
This one is of a widely popular variety that can definitely be called the best heat press machine for small businesses. This Facierstudio machine has a space-saving compact design that can be run with ordinary power outlets in your home.
If printing T-shirts is the only thing you want to do, then this device is suitable for you. It has specifically been made to use for t-shirts. Once you figure out the perfect heat and pressure settings, the results will be high quality & professional. Due to its exceptionally high heat, you can also apply rhinestones using this.
Unlike the previous machine, the timer sound in this one is gentle. The machine is compact. It needs very little space. The automatic shut off is a great feature because you do not need to stand nearby to turn it off. Moreover, the risk of scorching a shirt is low as well.
One issue some users have reported is that the packaging is prone to get damaged during transit. Some users found that even the machine itself a bit chipped and damaged. So always check the product thoroughly before receiving the package.
- Suitable for both business & domestic use
- Professional results
- An automatic timer can shut the machine off
- Electronic temperature & time control
- Can be heated up very high at 699°F
- Supports rhinestone pressing
- Strong handle adds sturdiness
- Not very versatile
- Prone to getting damaged in shipping
3. F2C Pro 5 in 1 Swing-Away Digital Transfer Sublimation Heat Press Machine
Coming up third is the first swinger type heat press machine featured on this list. F2C made this versatile and flexible beast at a very affordable price. It is also packed with many features to make your experience as comfortable, safe, and precise as possible.
Let's get the main feature out of the way first. Why exactly is a swing-away model preferable, you may be wondering? Well, traditional clamshell designs can cause accidents by touching the user when being pulled up. If the heat plates swing away, that is very less likely to happen.
This heat press comes with a coated heat platen, eliminating the need to get separate Teflon or silicone sheets.
Moreover, the ergonomic foam grip needs less pressure to move the plate, making it easier for the user. It is also very versatile and can work on t-shirts, caps, mugs, mouse pads, tote bags, coasters, tiles, and more.
Overall, this is definitely one of the best multi function heat press machines out there.
- No stick surface; does not require a Teflon or silicone sheet
- Large 12” x 15” surface for bigger prints
- Can rotate full 360 degrees
- Digital LCD timer makes tracking easier
- Versatile; can also work on curved surfaces
- Can switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit
- Modifiable multi-spring balancer
- Swinger style ensures accidents do not happen
- The temperature does not go very high; only up to 400°F – 430°F
- Needs a larger workspace because of swing style
4. GOLDORO Industrial Quality Digital Heat Press Machine
If you are on the hunt for a heat press machine with a larger plate for larger prints, this one from Goldoro might catch your eye.
One thing many users seemed to appreciate is how the product is shipped. It is packaged very well so that it takes no damage during transit.
Furthermore, it also comes pre-assembled. The only thing you need to attach is the handle, which is straightforward. This is a huge plus because no one likes fumbling around with machine parts, particularly newbies.
Speaking of newbies, this machine is very novice-friendly. The instruction manual comes in a very easy to follow step-by-step style. Moreover, the classic clamshell design is easier to configure with little to no learning curve.
Additionally, this machine will last you for years and give you perfect, vibrant prints every time. The 15” x 15” platen is very broad and will cover bigger designs with ease. It is also compatible with almost all flat surfaces, including t-shirts, tote bags, puzzles, plates, coasters, and more.
- Automatic turn off to prevent overheating
- Works on many flat surfaces
- Large size for bigger prints
- Pressure adjusting knobs
- Comes pre-assembled
- Feet have a rubber end to prevent sliding around
- Comes with easy to follow instructions
- No automatic release after the timer runs out; so you have to wait to remove the top plate yourself
5. ZENY Professional 5 in 1 Swing Away Multifunctional Sublimation Digital T-shirt Heat Press Machine,
The swing-away style heat press machines often cost more than traditional clamshell ones thanks to their complex design. With that in mind, Zeny has created this machine, which gives you a lot of useful features at a very affordable price point.
Undoubtedly, this is the best heat press machine for home use. It is compactly built in order to be able to fit in small areas. However, because of the swing-away design, it will need a larger work surface to make room for the swing plate. Keep that in mind if you plan to get it for use at home.
The versatility this machine gives you almost feels too good to be true. Not only do you get multiple attachments to print on all sorts of curved surfaces, but also the height of the platen is adjustable. This means that you can get prints on rather thick objects, too, such as stuffed animals.
Additionally, you can also print on ceramic and metal surfaces with this.
- Versatile 5 in 1 design; allows a variety of flat and curved pieces
- The heat platen has a Teflon coating
- Heat unit can be switched between Fahrenheit and Celsius
- Adjustable multi-spring height balancer
- Solid steel frame
- Auto-stop when preset time and pressure limit is reached
- Needs a larger work surface because of the build
- Instruction manual is confusing and unclear
- The heat platen is rather small
6. SUPER DEAL PRO 5 In 1 Multifunction Sublimation T-Shirt Heat Press Machine
Just like the one listed above, our 6th pick is yet another versatile heat press machine that can do it all. This machine can transfer designs on almost any surface you’d want it to – starting from metal, glasses, canvas to tiles, woods, and mugs. It is a ‘Super Deal’ indeed!
First of all, I’d like to put it out there that this machine is catered more towards beginners who are getting into heat pressing rather than professionals who do various heat pressing jobs on a regular basis. Sure, it works on multiple surfaces; but I have found that it works the best on flat surfaces only.
The results on curves surfaces, on the other hand, can be either a hit or a miss. That being said, this machine does the job pretty well. It is perfect for people who just want to test the waters of heat pressing on multiple different surfaces.
If you are a professional who does this as a living, you should get a better and pricier one for the best quality results.
- Swing-away design with 360-degree rotation – a safer option
- Digital LED controller
- Built-in mechanical support ensures flatness
- Pressure changing knobs
- Works best on flat objects
- Perfect for trainees
- The heating unit comes separately with no instructions on how to put it together
- Instruction manual leaves a bit to be desired
- Not for professionals
7. TUSY 15”x15” Digital Industrial Sublimation Heat Press Machine
Still on the hunt for a larger heat press machine? We present to you with our 2nd large pick – the Tusy digital heat press machine.
What customers raved the most about with this machine is how great Tusy’s after-sale service is. They are always prompt to reply and solve any potential issue to the best of their abilities, which really shows the kind of company they are.
This machine is heavy with a very solid build. It gives a clean, vibrant, professional finish. It works exactly as described, albeit there is one problem reported by some users.
Some have found that the digital LCD screen does not give the correct temperature reading, and the heat is usually lower than the reading.
I’d suggest you check if the heat is working well as soon as you get the product. If it does have that issue, just contact Tusy for further assistance.
- Works on different textiles – cotton, vinyl, wool, etc
- Large 15” x 15” heat platen
- Full range changeable compression
- Safe anti overheat feature – automatically turns off when reaches a certain temp
- Compatible with the standard US and Canada home outlet voltage
- Even heating throughout the larger surface area
- The foot has removable & adjustable rubbers
- The temperature may be a bit off from the reading
8. SURPCOS 5 in 1 12"x 15" Professional Digital Transfer Sublimation Swing-Away Heat Press Machine
Yet another jack of all trades – this SURPCOS machine can seriously up your DIY printing business by adding a diverse selection of different jobs you can do.
The 360-degree rotation is amazing to work with. Because it can be rotated in any way you please and get a full view of the plate. You can also get really precise with your design as you work. This is a plus for people doing professional business.
You will get 5 different heat plates with this machine – a 12’ x 15’ for t-shirts and other large flat surfaces, a 6” x 3” curved cap press, a 3”-3.5” diameter curved mug press, and two plate presses with 5” and 6” diameter. Changing up the plates is rather straightforward too.
The durability of this device is questionable. Some users reported it lasting only a few months, while others have had it for years. But you really can’t expect great longevity from something so affordable.
Overall, this is definitely one of the top heat press machines on a budget.
- Comes with 5 different heat platens
- Built-in fuse for safety
- Regulating pressure knobs
- More precise thanks to the 360-degree rotation
- Fixed rod for steady heat and even compression
- Temperature resistant anti-stick coating on heat platen for easy cleanup and oxidation
- Changing attachments as needed is easy and straightforward
- Not very durable
9. VIVOHOME 5 in 1 Combo Multifunctional Swing-Away Printing Sublimation Heat Press Transfer Machine
We are ending our list with another bang for your bucks – the Vivohome 5 in 1 swing-away heat press machine!
This machine contains many of the same features we have talked about before, so I will not focus on how convenient the swing-away function and the LCD timer are or how versatile the machine is.
Instead, let me highlight the subtle things the manufacturer carefully put into this machine to make it stand out.
Vivohome went all out to make this machine as safe and efficient as possible. First of all, you get two additional pads for a smooth print transfer. They are made of silicone and sponge, respectively. Together, these pads ensure effective, even heat dissipation and prevent overheating.
Each of the plates is mounted with double handles that are made of heat-insulating material. This means you will not be getting accidental burns when handling this machine. How great is that?
The only issue some users have faced is a loose plug. They have found it hard to keep the plug on. But generally, making sure to put the plug all the way in fixes this problem.
- Multiple spring balance
- Die-cast aluminum Teflon coated heat plate for even heat distribution
- Steel frames add sturdiness
- Broad heat range of 32 to 499 degrees Fahrenheit
- Safer than the clamshell design
- Comes fully assembled
- Heat insulated double plate handles
- Cord may be a bit loose
Different Types of Heat Press Machines
Here, we’ll introduce you to different types of heat press machines.
Clamshell Heat Press Machine
This is the most basic kind. It is named after clamshell because it operates like one, and it opens and closes just as a clamshell would. The simplicity of this design is well-loved. It is very straightforward and does not have any learning curve making it ideal for novices.
Swing-Away Heat Press Machine
As you can guess from the name, this model swings. Basically, instead of opening at the front like normal, the top plate swings away to the side. This is done to protect the user from any heat-related accidents.
Swinging to the side means you can't accidentally touch the hot platen, so it’s relatively much safer.
Draw Heat Press Machine
The draw heat design is like a hybrid of the previous two. As such, the top half of the platen opens like the clamshell design, while the inner bottom side works like a drawer. You can pull it away to the side. This design works great for bulky printing jobs.
Manual Heat Press Machine
With manual heat press machines, you need to open and close the machine manually when the timer rings.
Automatic Heat Press Machine
Automatic heat press machine opens up and closes by itself in a certain interval. This saves a lot of time and effort over the manual kind. You can pre-program the settings you want, and it will open up and close at the interval you set.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Heat Press Machine
Getting a heat press machine solely based on reviews is not the best way to go. You should always carefully consider some factors beforehand to know what you require from the machine. They are briefly explained below.
Choosing the perfect heat press machine only to realize it costs double the limit of your budget is a bummer. You should settle on a price range first and browse machines that fall within the range.
A heat press machine is an investment. So, you should always check online how good it is on the job it’s supposed to do. No one wants a cheap but inefficient heat press machine.
Having a warranty backed up by the manufacturer is always a plus. It ensures you can get replacement parts if something goes wrong. More so, it shows that the manufacturer has trust in their product.
Knowing the element this is made of is important. It’ll give you an idea of how quickly it will get heated up, how evenly the heat will spread, and how long the heat platen will retain the heat. Additionally, you can also have a rough idea of the maximum heat the material can go.
This is important because you should always monitor how long the press is on your t-shirt. Overheating can ruin your t-shirt or clothing item.
Not every fabric reacts the same way to heat. Fabrics like cotton and rayon can handle higher temperatures than delicate fabrics like silk. This is why your heat press machine should have the option for you to control the heat accustomed to the fabric being used.
Pressure Knobs and Adjustable Force
Just like temperature, a different type of fabric needs different levels of pressure to have a long-lasting print. Make sure your heat press machine has functional and adjustable pressure knobs that will let you adjust the force as you need.
Heat Press Size
There are many sizes of heat press machines you can get – 15 x 15, 16 x 20, 9 x 12, etc. You should consider the size of the designs you want to print and get a machine that suits your printing necessities.
Manual vs. Automatic
Manual heat presses are great for beginners to get acquainted with heat press machines. Using a manual or an automatic press does not affect the print quality of the finished product. They are also quite affordable.
That being said, if you can afford to, getting an automatic would definitely be a better investment, especially if you print in bulk or for business purposes.
Common Heat Press Machine Troubleshooting
Let’s get to know some common heat press machine troubleshooting issues.
Ink Transferring to the Back of the T-shirt
This is mainly caused by applying too much pressure. Cut down on the amount of pressure and try again. Alternatively, you can also try placing a Teflon sheet inside the t-shirt so that ink won’t bleed through.
Newly Printed Design Is Peeling Off
Do not wash the freshly printed t-shirt for at least 24 hours; it needs time to set properly. The cloth should be 100% dry when printing; otherwise, you may get peeling. Use a clothing iron to get rid of any trapped moisture in the fabric before printing.
Shirt Is Getting Scorched Even After Following Instructions
Not all fabrics are the same, so the settings need a bit trial and error to get right. Whenever you are using a piece of new fabric, try to use a similar 'test' fabric first to make sure the actual t-shirt does not get ruined.
Check out the transfer paper and manufacturer’s manual for information about recommended heat & pressure settings. A good rule of thumb is to use fabric that can withstand at least 180°C heat.
Results Across Different Shirts Are Inconsistent
Even after following the manufacturer's instructions, this may happen. The truth is, you need to do trials to find the perfect combination of settings for yourself. Once you find your perfect combination, save the settings for the future.
You need to adjust the temperature, pressure, and time just right before each new type of fabric & clothing to get the best results. Keep a list of which settings work the best for which fabric for future reference.
One trick to know if the pressure is right is placing a piece of paper in the platen when it’s in use. If you can pull it out without ripping, there is not enough pressure.
We have come to the very end of this article. In my opinion, for the most simplistic build and functions, the PowerPress heat press machine is the one for the job. If you need something made specifically for t-shirts, Fancierstudio is more suitable. Want versatility? The F2C Pro is known and loved for versatility.
With that, I am concluding the article here. Hope I was able to help you find the best heat press machine. Thanks for reading!