We own four different heat press machines, and now have many years experience working with, researching, and writing about them. We want to share what we’ve learned as you look for your best heat press!
There is no single best t shirt press for everybody. It’s going to depend on the stage you’re at, what you need it for, the features you require, and, of course, the budget!
Best Heat Press Machine Review
For those of you wanting to cut to the chase, here is our list of the top 12 heat press machines for pressing heat transfers.
Keep scrolling for an explanation on why we chose these machines, and to find some more advice on what you should look for in a new heat press!
1. The Cricut EasyPress 2
The Cricut heat press is best for home crafts
High quality product - super easy to use, transport, & store
Reaches max temp of 400°F - good for all heat transfers
To start with we’ve got the Cricut Easy Press 2, though this will not suit everyone!
This machine is more like a cross between a heat press and an iron. It is a great way to start applying more complicated heat transfers after you have outgrown your home iron.
This machine is best for:
making t shirts at home
heat press beginners
This machine is not great for:
making items to sell
pressing a lot of shirts at a time
Cricut is a highly respected brand, known for creating high-quality products that function well and last a long time. They have customer support and a lot of online resources – not to mention the huge Facebook communities.
Main things to know:
The EasyPress is very easy to learn how to use it, even with no experience
It’s a safe press with support tray & auto-off feature
For sale in 4 different sizes (mini, 6×7, 9×9, & 12×10)
A cheap Amazon heat press will be the best machine for some of you, though again, not suitable for others. More than anything, it will depend on your budget.
We personally own the PowerPress model, which is one of the best selling heat press machines on Amazon. It has served us well for all sorts of projects, such as making gifts for friends and family, but we would not use it for making t shirts to sell.
Like the EasyPress, these are heat press machines for beginners. I lump them all in together like this because they are so similar. You will have noticed that many are even identical, apart from the brand name. They are generally mass produced in China and are not the most reliable machines.
These machines are best for:
home craft use
early home business experimentation
learning how to use a heat press
These machines are not best for:
t shirt business purposes
a busy operation
If your budget only allows for a cheap t shirt press, my advice is to consider the Amazon heat press Best Sellers List. Simply select the first most suitable machine from the top!
Whether you are looking for a 15×15 heat press, a multifunction press, a cap press, or whatever else, you will thereby get the best machine on the day.
If you’re after a 15 x 15 inch heat press, the best seller will likely be a Fancierstudio heat press or the PowerPress heat press.
The MPress Range is an affordable alternative to the Amazon heat press options. While being similar to the PowerPress or Fancierstudio machines, it has some distinct advantages over those models.
It’s Heat Press Nation’s entry level heat press, and is available in 5 different styles and sizes:
the 9 x 12 inch swing away heat press
a 15 x 15, 16 x 20, or 16 x 24 inch clamshell heat press
the MPress sublimation mug press
Heat Press Nation are heat press experts! Each machine goes through a quality control process before shipping, there is access to technical support throughout the working week, and a super helpful Facebook community of heat press creators.
An MPress Heat Press is best for:
those with a smaller budget
for home use
craft projects & t shirts
entry into small business
The MPress is not for:
a thriving t shirt business
those wanting a smooth use machine
those requiring the best results
Consider this video to see the features of the Clamshell MPress heat press.
And, as with the MPress, you know you are getting a machine that has been tested, gone through a quality control process, and comes with access to heat press tech support.
The Black Series is best for:
home & craft use
small business use
selling products on Etsy, etc
those needing a more durable machine
those with a higher budget
The Black Series is not ideal for:
super busy t shirt businesses
those doing high volume orders
those wanting the smoothest action and ease of use
One of the great things about some Black Series machines is the extra lever on the top of the platen. You are able to hold this down while opening the machine, which supports the press and stops it from jolting upwards!
Main things you need to know:
Clamshell press can take substrates 1/2 inch thick
Multifunction heat press machines are exactly what many or you are looking for – an easier and cheaper way to press on multiple substrates.
These units are usually 5 in 1 or 8 in 1 heat press machines, and come with different sizes of the following types of attachments:
a t shirt press
hat/cap attachment press
mug/cup heat press
attachments for pressing plates
There are a ton of multifunction presses for sale on Amazon, which tend to be of lower quality, and are best for home craft use. The more expensive (and higher quality) machines from Heat Press Nation are suitable for small to medium business.
Multifunction machines are good for:
home & craft use
those wanting to do a variety of projects
those without the budget to purchase each machine separately
Multifunctions are not so good for:
busy, thriving businesses
those wanting to be doing multiple types of projects at once
those with limited space
Take a closer look at how to use a multifunction heat press:
Keep in mind:
you can only have one press going at a time
with the cheaper machines it’s often tricky & fiddly to change platens around
the cheap multifunctions are more prone to error than regular t shirt heat presses
These brands have the most innovative features, the highest quality components, and are the best to use for high quality apparel decoration.
The US made heat press brands are:
Stahls heat press machines
Insta heat press machines
The Geo Knight Heat Press Range
Hix Heat Presses
While my personal preference is for Stahls or Insta, all four American made heat press brands are of extremely high quality. Nothing can beat them for the best quality heat transfers.
These machines generally have features such as digital pressure adjustment, automatic opening, quality cast in heating elements, and long warranties.
US made machines are for:
serious heat transfer businesses
those requiring the best heat press machine
those who cannot afford downtime due to machine fault
These machines are not for:
those with little space
those with little budget
For those wanting to buy their first US made heat press, I recommend taking a look at the Stahls Hotronix Maxx range. These machines are very affordable and will give you peace of mind that your transfers will be permanently applied.
While you can get a mug press as part of a multifunction set-up, the standalone machines tend to be better (and there’s less work involved to use them).
The cheapest mug presses tend to only press a single size mug – usually 11oz mugs. The better machines are able to take multiple sizes, or change shape to accept most sizes of mug, cup, tumbler, or glass.
Get a mug press if:
you want to make custom mugs & cups
have a sublimation printer
are willing to test for perfect results
Avoid a mug press if:
you aren’t willing to go through some trial & error
you don’t want to be printing heat transfers
Using a mug press and a good sublimation printer, you can create the most vibrant and beautiful custom mugs. These make great gifts for friends or family, as well as a desirable product for your customers.
In my opinion, there is more to sublimating mugs than doing iron on t shirt transfers – it can take a bit more patience. It will also depend on whether you have a good mug press, or a cheaper model.
Cap & hat heat press machines are a must for every garment printer, and thankfully it’s not too costly to get started.
As with everything, the cheaper machines are not going to do the same quality job as those which cost more. The costlier models are also so much easier to use. It’s really difficult to keep the cap and transfer in place on the machine with some of the cheapest options.
Cap press machines are for:
crafters to advanced businesses
those wanting to offer their customers more
those with a plan in mind for selling
Avoid a hat press if:
you aren’t sure if you have a market for custom hats & caps
The Black Series Hat Press is an excellent starter machine for those wanting to print and sell custom caps. It is a swing away style press, reaches 400°F, and comes with that great HPN support.
There are large heat press machines, and then there are large format heat press machines. Large presses are those which are over 15 x 15 inches, and large format machines are those over 20 x 32 inches.
A large heat press is good for:
a t shirt business
those with plenty of space
those pressing large transfers
Don’t get a large press if:
it’s unlikely you’ll be doing large t shirt transfers
In the next section of this article we’ve got 5 ways to find the best heat press seller. We recommend asking the following 5 questions:
Do they have a website?
What are their buyer reviews like?
How long is the warranty?
Does the heat press come with bonuses?
Is the heat press worth the price?
1. Do They Have A Website?
Buying from a seller that has a website can make it easier to make contact if anything goes wrong. If buying from Amazon, google the name of your seller to see what comes up.
For example, Heat Press Nation has a very good website. They are very easy to contact and offer buying and ongoing technical support.
2. What Are The Reviews Like?
The second guideline to follow in choosing a seller is to review their heat press reviews!
This is pretty straightforward – of course you’re not going to buy from a seller with a ton of negative reviews. But it becomes difficult because most sellers have somegood and somebad reviews.
A couple of my favorite negative heat press reviews include: “I’m being generous giving this press one star…”. Or, “They should have called this a de-press-ed heat machine because that’s how I feel after buying it…”.
Hilarious. But I think it’s important to keep in mind that there are always going to be faults and flaws which occur in products – and perhaps even more so in industrial electrical equipment like heat press machines.
Overall, if a heat press has a 4+ star rating, you’re onto a winner.
Compare warranty lengths between the heat presses before making your purchase.
Some are 6 months, some are 1 year, and the more expensive models do it a bit different.
4. Heat Press Bonuses
This is a relatively minor consideration in the big scheme of things. Does the heat press come with any bonus products?
These might include:
Sheets of vinyl
It can be tempting to choose a machine simply because it has a freebie with it, but I would use the other guidelines first before letting this one determine your choice.
5. How Much Does The Heat Press Cost?
This is often the only consideration people have in mind when it comes to purchasing a transfer press. While it is important, you will hopefully see through reading this article that there are other factors as well.
If after comparing sellers you see they are all selling the same (or very similar) press, and there is little else differentiating them from one another but the name, then I would just go with the cheapest.