The 6 Best T-Shirt Heat Presses

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This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in May of 2016. 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 recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best t-shirt heat press on Amazon.

6. Mophorn Digital

5. Promo Heat Sublimation

4. Greenstar Starter Bundle

3. Zeny Pro 6-In-1

2. Fancierstudio DG15

1. PowerPress Industrial Quality

Understanding How To Use A T-Shirt Heat Press

You should always follow the Instructions for the specific paper you use.

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 1960s also brought an expansion in the use of graphic tees.

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.

Heat pressed shirts will also last much longer if they are washed inside out and hung to dry.

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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Daniel Imperiale
Last updated on July 11, 2019 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

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