The 6 Best T-Shirt Heat Presses

Updated February 28, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 47 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. For years, you and your buddies have been saying that you could make a fortune with all the hilarious quotes you've come up with if only you could get them printed on T-shirts. With our selection of easy-to-use and affordable heat presses, you now have no excuse not to give it a shot. Just don't blame us if a controversial design lands you in hot water. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best t-shirt heat press on Amazon.

6. Mophorn Digital

The Mophorn Digital has a swing-away feature that allows you to rotate the upper heat plate, reducing the chance of accidentally contacting the hot area. This gives you the opportunity to work more freely with any garments.
  • pressure adjustment knob
  • great for beginners
  • some units don't last very long
Brand Mophorn
Model pending
Weight 57 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Promo Heat Sublimation

The Promo Heat Sublimation has a nonstick surface that prevents transfers from getting scorched. Also, its ergonomic foam grip feels great to handle and is comfortable to use for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, the temperature tends to be inconsistent.
  • timer functions well
  • adjustable pressure
  • lacks decent customer service
Brand Promo Heat
Model PH3804THJ
Weight 54.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Greenstar Starter Bundle

If you want to start using your press as soon as you open the box, the Greenstar Starter Bundle comes with a replacement sheet, two cotton T-shirts and five transfer vinyls. Also, its large LCD makes it easy to see your time and temperature settings.
  • heavy duty frame
  • heats up quickly
  • no detailed directions
Brand Greenstar
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Zeny Pro 6-In-1

In addition to shirts, the Zeny Pro 6-In-1 can also press mugs, hats, and more, making it one of the most versatile units available. It has an adjustable multi-spring balancer that allows the pressure to be evenly distributed.
  • celsius and fahrenheit settings
  • working surface is covered in teflon
  • evenly spread temperatures
Brand ZENY
Model pending
Weight 56.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

2. Fancierstudio DG15

If you have a limited budget, the Fancierstudio DG15 is an easy-to-use, industrial-quality unit that comes in at an affordable price. This upward-opening model is very compact, saving you valuable space on your workstation or crafting area.
  • silicone gel base board
  • helpful instructions
  • large heating platform
Brand fancierstudio
Model DG15-BLK
Weight 50.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. PowerPress Industrial Quality

Ideal for those who intend to start a small business, the highly functional PowerPress Industrial Quality is a fast model that will let you transfer dozens of prints in just a few hours. Also, its durable build quality means you can get years of usage out of it.
  • teflon heating plate
  • easy to adjust pressure
  • electrical control system
Brand PowerPress
Model pending
Weight 53 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Understanding How To Use A T-Shirt Heat Press

T-shirt heat presses may be the best way for the average user to add artwork or graphics onto shirts.They have become a favored alternative to classic screen printing over the years. Each method has its pros and cons, but heat pressing offers many start-up businesses the simplest way to spread their message. Heat pressing has the advantages of being much easier to use and reducing the production price of small batches when compared to shirts made in a screen printer. They are best used for shirts with full-color images, or designs with multiple colors. Heat presses also reduce ink waste, which is an important part of reducing the pollution caused by printing.

Using a T-shirt heat press is pretty straightforward, though each brand may have slightly different methods of operation. Heat presses vary in size and the amount of control the user has over the specific functions. The most basic models are perfect for home use or for delivering shirts to a few friends. Professional models are created more with bulk orders in mind. They may have additional settings for varying the temperature, time, and pressure to the needs of the specific shirt.

The basic operations are the same with most models. Heat press machines must be warmed up before use to properly transfer the image to the fabric. After turning the machine on, you should adjust the thermostat knob to the desired temperature. Once the press reaches that temperature, it is ready to use. Lifting the handle to open the press reveals the heated work area, called the platen. The shirt should lay centered on the platen, with the transfer paper lined up directly on top of it. You can now close the press and start the timer. The actual press time will vary based on the type of transfer paper. You should always follow the Instructions for the specific paper you use. Once the time is up, remove the shirt from the press and allow up to 24 hours for the image to lock in. After 24 hours have passed, the shirt is safe to wash and wear.

The History Of The Graphic T-Shirt

The modern T-shirt was actually first designed as an undergarment. The U.S. Navy issued them to troops somewhere around 1898. They were meant for sailors to wear underneath their uniforms. Farmers, miners, and workers in all fields soon wore T-shirts, as well, as the lightweight fabric was much better for use in hot weather than other option. The inexpensive material and uncomplicated design made them a household staple for many during work, household chores, or play.

The printed T-shirt came in the 1930s and was soon depicted in cultural staples, such as the film The Wizard of OZ. The major boom in popularity was due in large part to the persona created by Marlon Brando for his role in the movie A Streetcar Named Desire. His magnetic portrayal of Stanley Kowalski was a large step in putting a T-shirt in every home in the country. T-shirts were instantly cool. The 1960s brought a new revolution to the T-shirt, as hippies took the simplicity of the plain white tee from the beatniks and dyed it with a rainbow of colors, creating the iconic tie-dye tee. The 1960s also brought an expansion in the use of graphic tees. Basic silk screen printers were used to create shirts featuring pop culture references, cultural icons, and even political cartoons. This tradition continued on into the 1970s. The graphic tee as we know it today had planted itself firmly in the American culture.

Thanks in part to the creation of MTV in 1981, musicians and artists came into focus in a big way. People wanted to identify with these cultural icons through their clothing. Graphic T-shirts featuring bands were everywhere, marking the wearer with a certain sign of allegiance. The 90s brought the laid back skateboard and surf culture of the west coast into the limelight, and shirts began to reflect this image. The shirts of the new millennium leading into the modern generation are a mix of everything that came before. Today, printed shirts in every style and shade are found throughout the world.

Tips To Make The Best Heat Pressed Tees

Every shirt made in a heat press is not of the same quality. To create the best possible T-shirts using a heat press, there are some very important tips to follow that even some experienced shirt makers do not know.

The first thing to consider is the type of fabric being used in the heat press. There are also some fabrics that cannot be used with a heat press at all. Synthetic materials and fabrics like silk may burn, and should not be used with a heat press. High-quality cotton is the fabric of choice for many, though fabrics like polyester, Lycra, and spandex can also withstand the high heat of the press.

It is important to do a few sample presses using a spare shirt to test for heat settings, proper transfer, and image quality. Taking measurements before pressing each shirt helps create a more uniform image with every press. For instance, measuring how far the center of the image is from the collar and edges of the shirt can help deliver a consistent end product.

Shirts should be washed before they are pressed. This keeps the design from looking wrinkled after it is applied. Stretching the shirts out just before pressing keeps the image from cracking or distorting. The right transfer paper can also make a difference in the end product, so be sure to choose a high quality option. Heat pressed shirts will also last much longer if they are washed inside out and hung to dry.

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Last updated on February 28, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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