What is A Heat Press and Why Do I Need One?

Essentially, a heat press is just a machine that has been engineered to imprint a design or a graphic onto a substrate (like a t-shirt, commonly) by applying heat and pressure for a specified amount of time.  The heat is generated through a metal surface called a “platen.”

Again, Ledab heat press machines are commonly used for applying designs (iron-on, for example) to fabrics, some of these machines can be specially designed for imprint on other objects. This might include things like:

  • Caps
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • cookware
  • Mugs
  • Ceramic Plates
  • Metal elements
  • Mouse pads

Types of Heat Presses

Essentially, there are two fundamental heat press designs:  Flatbed and Rotary

  • Flatbed heat presses—includes Clamshell (EHP), Draw (EDP), and Swing Away (ESP).  These can sometimes be combined (as in Clamshell-Draw or Swing-Draw hybrids)
  • Rotary heat presses—include multifunctional (EMT), Roll to Roll type (ERT), or small format type (EST)

It is important to also note that all heat presses can be available with different systems:

  • Manual
  • Semi-automatic
  • Fully-automatic; compressed system
  • Fully-automatic; hydraulic system

Manual and fully-automatic heat presses are currently widely available with the most common using a flat platen to apply the heat and pressure to the substrate (again, most commonly fabric).  The clamshell design applies heat from the upper press, which opens like a clamshell; the swing-away heat press has the heat platen in the lower chamber.

The Semi-automatic heat press is a relatively new development, designed for manual opening and closing as well automatic, electromagnetic opening.  In addition, new developments in digital technology can enable more control of both heat and pressure.

The draw style heat press has a bottom platen that can be pulled out—like a drawer—from the heat applicator in preparation for the graphic.  Also, vacuum presses can use air pressure to apply the appropriate force, actually resulting in much higher psi ratings.

Why Own A Heat Press

As a business, owning a heat press can be a profitable investment.  This is a machine which can allow you to conduct high-speed printing of materials en masse. If you work in the apparel industry this can directly benefit you by helping you fill orders quickly.  If you do not work with apparel, though, you might use a heat press machine to fashion your marketing materials (apparel included), which will allow you to more effectively advertise your business, too.

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