How Does Heat Press Machine Work

How Does Heat Press Machine Work – Experts Don’t Want You To Know

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.

How does heat press Machine work

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.

Types of heat press Machine

Heat presses have a flat platen for heating and applying pressure. The variants of these machines include;

  • The Clamshell type whose upper heating element opens like a clamshell
  • The Swing-away type where the design of the top heating platen makes it swing away from the lower platen.
  • The Drawer type is designed such that you can pull away from the bottom platen from the graphic preparation like a drawer.
  • The Vacuum operated heat press employs air pressure to produce the results.

  Steps in running the Heat Press Machine

Heat-Press-Machine-Mechanism

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.

  • Place the heat press on a stable flat surface.
  • Connect the heat press to a dedicated power outlet where possible. Avoid using power extensions.
  • For safety reasons, keep the machine away from the reach of children.
  • Place the device at an ideal height where you can easily reach to pull down the upper plate. Avoid putting it too high where you strain to reach the handle.
  • Place the heat press such that you have access from three sides.
  • You should install a fan and ensure the operating room has enough windows to allow for air circulation. Facilitated air movement is necessary because the heat press will warm the chamber.

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:

  • Ink-Jet transfer paper onto fabrics 14 to 18 seconds
  • Laser Printer transfer paper onto fabrics 18 to 25 seconds.
  • Sublimation transfer onto fabric 25 to 30 seconds
  • Sublimation transfer onto woods 60 to 70 seconds

# 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.

Tips for excellent results


  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.

About the Author Alexandre Pacheco

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Add Your Reply