What are the Different Types of Heat Presses?

Heat presses are very useful for those who want to put up sign or decoration businesses because of how it transfers a graphic design to a substrate. You are basically laying an artwork on items when you are using a heat press. However, there are a lot of different types of heat presses, depending on what they are used for. So, what are the different types of heat presses?

The different types of heat presses include clamshell, swing-away, draw, multi-purpose, and sublimation. Each of these types has different advantages and disadvantages depending on what you are using them for.

Heat presses

Heat presses come in different forms, shapes, and functions. Every type of heat press has its own benefits. As such, it is important for you to get to know each type of heat press so that it will be easier for you to decide which kind of heat press you believe is right for your business.

What are the different types of heat presses?

If you are looking to start a printing business or anything similar to that, you need to look for a good heat press that is somewhat a necessity for any type of printing business. However, what you should also know is that there are different types of heat presses that you can buy.

Every type of heat press in the market has its own unique benefits and functions depending on what you want to use the heat press for. Most heat presses tend to be versatile. But it still is better to make sure that you are using the right kind of heat press that suits your needs. That is why we are here to talk about the different types of heat presses.


StarCraft Mint Clamshell Press

The clamshell heat press is one of the most popular types of heat press that you can find anywhere today. A lot of different homes and businesses use clamshell heat presses because of how they are very common yet still very much versatile and easy to use.

Of course, clamshell heat presses are called such because they basically operate like clamshells that can open and close similar to a clam. Think of it as something that operates similarly to a laptop that can open and close. Closing it is what will allow it to perform its functions.

Another reason why clamshell heat presses are so popular is that they are quite compact and easy to carry around. On top of that, clamshell heat presses tend to be on the more affordable side of the price spectrum. This is why homes and businesses tend to use clamshell heat presses.

There are several subtypes of clamshell heat presses. These include automatic and manual versions. Manual clamshell heat presses require that you open and close the machine yourself. On the other hand, the automatic version will open and close on its own.

But the problem with clamshell heat presses is that, because of how they are constructed, they are not the best when you are talking about thicker surfaces. They are better off for thinner purposes such as shirts and paper.

Centering your designs on the product can also be something that is quite tricky when you are using a clamshell heat press because you won’t be able to see where you are pressing the design on due to how the heat press closes.

Still, clamshell heat presses tend to be the best for those who are merely starting out their small business or are doing DIY projects at home.

Swing away

Geo Knight Swing Away 12x14 Heat Press

A swing away heat press machine gets its name from the fact that the upper plate is actually swinging. The top plate can move in a swinging motion to move it away from the lower plate. This will allow you to put your product on the lower plate and then allow the upper plate to swing back above the lower plate when you are now using the machine.

One of the advantages of this swinging mechanism is that it is easy for you to carefully place your designs without having to worry about getting burned because you are not making contact with the heating part of the machine. This is due to how the top plate can be moved far from you and your design.

Of course, there is also the fact that you can work on different materials that come with different levels of thickness. Swing away heat presses are effective at printing designs on materials that are thicker such as mousepads and other similar items. This allows the machine to be more versatile than the clamshell type.

Because of how the swing away heat press comes with plenty of amazing advantages, these machines are very popular commercially and in different homes. They are often used by different businesses and DIY experts at home.

However, the problem is that swing away heat presses tend to require a large amount of space due to how the upper plate needs room when you are swinging it. This means that it is not the most compact and space-saving machine to have if you have a smaller room.

Still, swing away heat presses are good investments for different businesses and homes alike. They are easily more expensive than clamshell heat presses, but they are much more versatile. So, if you can afford this machine, it might be a good heat press to start with.


Auto Open Clam Heat Press Machine 16x20 by HTW

As the name suggests, the draw type heat press is a machine that allows you to draw out the lower plate so that you can have more freedom when it comes to your printing space. You basically pull out the lower plate and then put the shirts or garments there before you load the lower plate back. This will allow you to have a better view of the space you will be using for the layout of the design.

A lot of draw type heat presses come with a swing away mechanism as well, but they are usually considered draw types and not swing away types.

Most draw type heat presses are made for commercial purposes and have the best kind of tech that you can find in a heat press. That is why these machines are very expensive and are great only for those who are willing to splurge on good equipment.


WALAPress 7 in 1 Combo Manual Mug Heat Press Bundle

The multi-purpose heat press is the most versatile out of all of the different types of heat press precisely because it can be used for a lot of different purposes. This machine is not only capable of pressing designs onto garments and other similar materials. It is also capable of using different attachments that will allow you to print on a lot of different types of surfaces, such as mugs, caps, and hats.

This means that multi-purpose heat presses are amazing machines that can print on surfaces that are curved. That is why most multi-purpose heat presses come with labels that will allow you to know how many attachments they come with.

A multi-purpose heat press can also have a swing away design that you can use for flat items such as shirts and mousepads. But the swing away plate can be removed and taken out so that you can use the other attachments that you may want to use depending on the surface you want to print your design on.

Multi-purpose heat presses tend to be popular among different print and design businesses because of how they can be used on curved surfaces and not only flat surfaces.


Auto Open Clam Heat Press Machine 16x20 by HTW

Finally, we have the sublimation type of heat press. Sublimation heat presses are the best when it comes to transferring high-quality digital images on shirts and other types of materials. But you have to print the images using a sublimation printer and sublimation ink so that you can press the image onto the materials you want them to appear on.

Because of how sublimation heat presses work, you are allowed to use different complicated artworks and designs that have amazing details. And you don’t have to worry about not being able to print the design onto the garment because sublimation heat presses tend to be quite precise when it comes to the finer details.

The best part about sublimation ink is that it lasts very long compared to other types of ink that are used on shirts and other materials. That is why sublimation heat presses tend to be popular for T-shirt printing businesses.

Final Thoughts

Most heat presses can all do similar things, they all have one purpose though and that is to transfer something onto a substrate. Having the right press for your projects is very important, if you don’t have the right one it can end up either ruining your project or just becoming a big headache.

Be sure to check out some other nifty functional craft ideas through our other posts here on Craft-ILY as well as checking out some videos on DIY and How To’s over on YouTube. Look for “Crafting Unedited” or just click the name in blue to see!


Hi! I’m Cierra and I’m a craftaholic! I’ve been crafting for a few years now and it’s honestly become my zen. I love crafting, fitness, spending time with my family and friends doing whatever the day allows, peacocks (hence the logo), the beach and adrenaline - give me all the roller coasters and fast cars!

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