Heat Press Size & Style
Just as you would choose your printer based on print width, the platen size and style of an industrial quality heat press should be observed. If you are going to be producing large items or multiple items at a time, your heat press should be of sufficient size to accommodate these demands. For example, if you will be concentrating on t-shirts, consider that there are great variances in decoration area between a child's small t-shirt and a men's XXX-large. Your heat press should be able to accommodate your product in a single pressing (per side). Look for a commercial quality heat press with even temperature distribution, a fast recycle time, an accurate thermostat, and a platen designed to accommodate your products. When purchasing a commercial quality heat press, shoot for the top third of the price range.
Choosing a Heat Press:
There are many types and sizes to choose from depending upon your needs and because sublimation requires precise temperature and pressure, it is important to invest in a quality unit. Presses come in four basic configurations: flat, mug, cap and vacuum.
The flat (flat platen) press is available as a clam-shell style or a swing-sway style. The clam-shell version opens and closes like a clam, where the bottom platen is stationery and the top platen moves up and down. The swing-away press opens by lifting up the top platen, but then will move sideways completely out of the way for ease of placement and removal of transferred products
Clam Shell Heat Press
The most commonly used press in sublimation. These units are required for all flat products such as plastics, metals, ceramics, plaques etc. and t-shirts.
Swing Away Heat Press
The heated platen swings completely away to allow access to the transferred product. Non-flat products require special heat presses such as the mug, cap and vacuum press. Since both the mug and the cap have curved surfaces, the mug and cap presses are designed to fit the curvature of those products. There are also combination presses which offer both flat and curve pressing capabilities via the use of specialized attachments. Vacuum presses (3D) allow greater flexibility when imaging 3D items such as multiple mugs, plates and glassware.
The mug is placed inside of a rounded heating element which provides equal pressure and temperature all the way around.