The auto open heat press feature has so much going for it. It is not a feature that every heat press comes with, so it’s something to think about before you buy.
By the end of this article you’ll be asking yourself, ‘Do I really want to settle for a simple manual heat press?’ OR, should I be getting myself one of these auto opening heat press machines, and living happily ever after?’
Here are the best automatic heat press machines – listed in general order from least expensive and lowest spec, to most expensive and highest spec.
HPN Black Series Auto Open
2 different sizes
Heavy steel & aluminum construction
Quality components with precision time & temperature controls
Auto opening heat presses are those that automatically open once the pre-set time has been reached.
Cheap heat press machines (usually below the $300 price range) do not have this feature. An auto open heat press will cost more, purely because it has this feature.
Semi-Auto Vs Fully-Auto
You might come across this terminology in your automatic heat press search: 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. An example is the Hotronix Auto Open Clam Heat Press.
Fully-auto presses also set their own pressure. They will generally adjust automatically with each new substrate. With a semi automatic heat press you will need to set or adjust the pressure.
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 Clamshell 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 – Insta heat press machines are fully auto swing away heat press machines.)
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!
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!
One possible con is that they only come in the clamshell style (apart from the Insta heat press). 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, most of the quality machines (like the Hotronix heat press machines) have a long warranty on some parts of the machine. If you are buying from Heat Press Nation, be sure to take a look on the page to see the warranty length & conditions.
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 in a busy t-shirt business (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.
Best Auto Opening Heat Press
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. Not sure if auto open heat press machines are for you? Head on over to Heat Press Nation and talk to them about your requirements and circumstances – there’s a chat box that you can use anytime.