Are you one of those people interested in t-shirt printing? If yes, you probably have heard of the heat press machine. If you are wondering how the machine works, we will discuss it here in details answering the question; How does heat press machine work?
The heat press is a great tool that is widely used in fabric printing. The device is designed to imprint a design or artwork on a suitable medium such as t-shirts by applying heat and pressure for a defined period.
Heat presses have an aluminum heating element that forms the heating platen. They utilize a special transfer paper and certain types of inks. The machine first heats up to the desired temperature. The hot platen is then pressed onto the transfer paper with the ink design for a specified duration. During this time, the ink is embedded in the fabric being printed. The pressed ink embeds on the surface of the substrate or cloth forming the design through the layers of the material.
Heat press prints on various surfaces
The heat press machine is not limited to printing onto fabrics only. You can use it to transfer images and designs onto mousepads, caps, jigsaw puzzles, plates, and other various products. The heat press machines come in different configurations that cater for hobbies, heavy-duty, and industrial and mass production.
Variations in heat presses
The machines come in manual, semi-automatic and automatic variants that allow adjustment of pressure and temperature according to a particular need. Modern, heat presses incorporate digital technology that facilitates accurate controls over temperature, pressure, and duration of press.
Heat presses have a flat platen for heating and applying pressure. The variants of these machines include;
Steps in running the Heat Press Machine
Set your working space
Before you can embark on t-shirt printing, you first of all need to set your working space as this is imperative. While working with the heat press machines, we recommend that you set it in an organized and facilitating space. Such setup allows for easy movement, access, safety as well as improved efficiency during the transfer process. Consider these tips to guide you in setting the room.
Almost all heat press machines have a similar way of operating. You will see a power button, a timer, a temperature gauge and pressure adjuster.
# 1. 1. Prepare the Design Print the design
You can create a slogan, artwork or chose an image for your design. You can create and edit your designs and pictures using graphic design software.
# 1. 2. Print the design onto a heat transfer paper
Ensure you get the best quality heat transfer paper for your printing. The papers have an opaque or clear film on a single side.
Print the artwork on the surface with the film.
Clear transfer paper produces best results on white and light gray fabrics while the opaque ones are best for colored fabrics.
Alternatively, you can buy an already designed and printed transfer paper.
# 1. 3. Power the machine and turn on
Ensure you connect the heat press to a power outlet. Connect the heat press directly to a wall socket. Flip the power button to start the heat press.
# 1. 4. Set the thermostat temperature
Turn the thermostat knob clockwise and wait for the heat press to heat up. A red light also called the heating light appears when the thermostat heats up.
When the thermostat attains required temperature, turn the thermostat knob anticlockwise gradually until the heating light goes off. While using the heat press, you will notice that the red heat light will turn on and off continually to keep the temperature steady.
# 1. 5. Set and start the time
Use the M/S button to set the digital time on the machine. Hold the button down increase the values rapidly.
Start the timer by pressing the Start/Stop button. Use the Start/Stop button again to reset the timer when the alarm sounds.
# 1. 6. Open the heat press
Lift up the handle of the machine to open the press. Remember to keep the machine in open state when the press is heating.
# 1. 7. Lay your garment
The printing medium can be a t-shirt, bag or any other desired medium. Assuming you are using a shirt, ensure to stretch it so that you remove any folds.
Sometimes you can preheat the cloth for a few seconds to eliminate all moisture and remove creases.
# 1. 8. Lay the transfer paper
Put the transfer paper on the fabric such that the face with the artwork lies on the t-shirt. Ensure the transfer paper is well aligned as desired.
# 1. 9. Set the pressure and time
Turn the pressure knob clockwise to increase the pressure, or anticlockwise to decrease the pressure. Set the pressure and time as recommended on the transfer paper.
Here are some recommendations for various transfer papers:
# 1. 20. Press
Lower the handle to clamp the press and the Start/Stop button to start the digital timer. Always ensure the handle locks firmly.
# 1. 21. Wait for the alarm sound
The machine will sound an alarm once the time is up. Open the heat press when you hear the alarm.
# 1. 22. Peel the transfer paper
Check the instruction on the transfer paper to identify whether to peel hot or cold. Start from one corner tip and gently peel the entire transfer paper from the cloth.
Always wait for around 24 hours before washing to allow the print work to lock well.
Read the instructions on the transfer paper
Always ensure you go through all the instructions on the transfer paper before you embark on the process. Such directions will include the recommended and pressure.
Always test print
Do a test print by printing your design on a regular piece of paper. This is important because transfer papers cost much and you do not want to waste any money. A print preview will show how your design fits within the margins and if the color prints correctly. The preview will show you how your design will look when printed on paper.
Caution with double-sided t-shirts
You can easily re-heat the initial transfer when printing a double sided t-shirt. To avoid such damage, you can insert a piece of cardboard in between the t-shirt. You should also adjust the height to lower the pressure before pressing.
Choose the appropriate fabric
Heat sensitive clothing tends to melt when exposed to hot surfaces. Never use such material with heat printing.
Caution with the pressure knob
When lowering the pressure settings, do not turn the pressure knob too far (in the anti-clockwise direction).
The swivel arm may disconnect from the machine. You can easily screw the adjustment knob back, but this will inconvenience you pace.
The heat press is an excellent way to start a t-shirt printing business. It is economical for a startup as well as for printing fewer numbers of t-shirts. Heat presses can print a large number of t-shirts too.
The above steps and tips are crucial for successful fabric printing using heat press. Now you can enjoy heat pressing.