Auto-Opening Heat Press Machines: Should You Get One?

In this article we’re going to convince you to buy an auto-open heat press!

 

Haha, well maybe, maybe not.

 

We’ll give you the pros and cons, the price range, who they’re good and not so good for, and finally some examples of these machines available for purchase on Amazon.

 

Why Do Auto-Opening Presses Deserve Their Own Article?

 

It’s because they are awesome, that’s why!

 

This feature has so much going for it. It is not a feature that every heat press comes with, so it’s one you should consider before purchasing a machine.

 

By the end of this article you’ll be asking yourself, ‘Do I really want to settle for a simple old non-auto-opening heat press?? Do I want the added back breaking labor and stress each time I press a t-shirt? OR, should I be getting myself one of these auto-opening beauties and living happily ever after??’

 

Let’s get into it!

 

 

What Are Auto-Opening Heat Presses?

 

If you don’t already know, it is pretty easy to guess, but sometimes even the obvious needs to be stated to avoid any misconceptions: auto-opening presses are those that automatically open once the pre-set time has been reached.

 

Cheaper heat press machines below the $250 price range do not have this feature. You will need to pay a little bit more money for it.  

 

Semi-Auto Vs Fully-Auto

 

You might come across this terminology in your automatic heat press quest: semi-auto or fully-auto?

 

A semi-auto machine is one that automatically opens when the timer runs out, but it does not automatically close. This is the standard machine that you will come across on Amazon.

 

A fully automatic press will both close at the touch of a button and then open when the timer runs out.

 

Therefore, in this article, we are primarily considering the semi-auto presses. The heat presses linked to on Amazon in this article are all semi-auto.

 

Fully-auto presses also set their own pressure. They will adjust automatically with each new substrate. You will need to set the pressure yourself with a semi-auto press.

 

Fully automatic presses are designed for large businesses. They cost up to $2000 more than the most expensive semi-auto and require an air compressor to run.

 

Auto-Open Machines Are Clamshell Style Machines

 

Because of the design of your standard heat press, only clamshell styled heat presses can be auto-opening (at least when it comes to the cheaper machines – there are auto-opening swing-aways for a few thousand dollars.  

 

Clamshells are a fine style of press which have their own pros and cons. You can read more about them in our heat press style article if you are interested.

 

Clamshells are easy to use and don’t take up as much space as other styles of heat press. However, if you have your heart set on a swing-away style press, you will likely have to forfeit the auto-open feature.

 

A clip of a Hotronix auto-open in action!

 

 

Auto-Open Pros

 

The number one pro is that it opens automatically when the timer runs out. You don’t have to be there to do it yourself!

 

  • This allows you the freedom to be doing other things while the machine is doing the job. You can be preparing your next tee and not have to worry about opening it as soon as the timer goes off.
  • Imagine doing a run of sports shirts with names and numbers. There is a lot of work getting your shirts and transfers together and ready for the press. It’s so much easier if you don’t have to worry about being there to open the machine!

 

There is always the risk of overcooking your transfers without the auto-open feature. It is easy to get caught up with something else during that 10 second press and not make it back in time. The alternative is having to wait beside the machine and you lose the time that could have been spent more productively.

 

It’s easier on your body:

 

  • especially if you do a high volume of tees. You will not be wrestling the press open each and every time you do a t-shirt.
  • especially if you have neck and/or back problems, or if you want to avoid these issues in the future!

 

You might be thinking (like I once did), ‘How much easier could it be just by simply being auto-open? How hard is it really to open the machine up at the end?’ Well, you would be surprised by what a difference it makes. It really does make it so much easier – particularly if you are pressing 20+ shirts at a time!

 

This feature frees you up in the case of distraction or interruption. Customers, spouses, kids or pets could strike at any moment. You can strike back immediately with an auto-open press!

 

Auto-Open Cons

 

One possible con is that they only come in the clamshell style. This means that if you love both the auto-open feature and swing-away style presses, you’ve got a difficult choice before you.

 

Another is that this is one more feature that could possibly go wrong on your machine. However, you will have at least a one year limited warranty on all machines when purchased through Amazon. Some machines (like the Hotronix machines) have an even longer warranty on some parts of the machine.

 

These machines are also slightly more expensive than non-auto-opening presses.

 

Who Are These Machines Good For?

 

These machines are especially good for those who are doing large runs of t-shirts (or whatever other substrate you are pressing upon), because, as we’ve already stated, you can continue with other work while the press is doing its job.

 

They are good for those who get distracted easily. If you are one of those people who always needs to be moving and working, standing by your heat press for 5 – 15 seconds is a real annoyance. Better to go auto-open and do what you do best!

 

Distractions can also come in the form of customers (if you are in a shop) or children and pets (if you are in the home). If something comes up while you’re pressing you know you can deal with it immediately if your machine is going to automatically open.

 

Who Could Do Without This Feature?

 

For somebody that is just doing the odd t-shirt here and there, there isn’t much point in getting an auto-open machine. If you are simply creating t-shirts, cushions, etc, as one-off pieces, you do not need one of these machines. You don’t need to be preparing your next tee while one is in the press.

 

This is perhaps a person who is not heat pressing for business purposes but simply as a hobby or craft, making gifts and items for yourself and your friends.

 

If you prefer swing-away style machines then this press is also not for you. As stated above, auto-opening machines are clamshell machines.

 

Finally, these machines are obviously not for you if you cannot afford one! If you have only $200 or less in your budget for a heat press, then you will have to go without the auto-open feature for now.

 

Price Range

 

There is a large price range in the auto-opening heat press market.

 

We have previously reviewed the cheap USCutter auto-open heat press here if you would like to read more on one specific example. Otherwise, consider the machines below.

 

At the lowest price point we have the likes of the Happybuy 15 x 15 Auto-Open Heat Press:

This is a very basic heat press with the auto-open feature.

 

As an example of an expensive auto-open press we have the Stahls’ Hotronix Auto-Open Clam:

 

If you click through those links to Amazon you will see there is over a thousand dollar difference between the two.

 

Of course, with the Hotronix you are not only getting a better quality auto-open feature, you are getting an all round better machine. There is no comparing them really. The Hotronix is an outstanding machine, but, if the Happybuy is the price point you’re at right now, then go for it.

 

You might like to check out these other machines at different prices:

 

The Rincons 20 x 16 Auto-Open Clam:

PNR 15 x 15 Auto-Open Clam:

The Hotronix 16 x 16 Auto-Open Clam:

 

Conclusion

 

Not only are these machines really helpful in saving time and labor in your day, there is also something oddly satisfying about the heat press opening itself up at the end of a press. It is really cool to see it pop open with a transfer waiting for you to peel.

 

We think auto-open clams are great machines, and if after reading this article you think so too, I wouldn’t hesitate to go and get one for yourself.

 

Save yourself some work and let the machine do it for you.

 

Thanks for reading – feel free to leave us your thoughts below.

 

(Please note: This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy here.)

 

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