The Best Heat Press Style: Clamshell, Swing-Away or Draw?

What are the different heat press styles? What is the best heat press style?


In this article we discuss the pros and cons of the four styles of heat press; EasyPress, clamshell, swing-away and draw. Then you can decide which heat press style is right for you!


The Best Heat Press Style


best heat press style


Like all things, each heat press style has its own pros and cons. You will need to consider your personal circumstances to know which suits you best.


Here are some questions you need to be asking yourself:

  • How much space do I have to access and use my machine?
  • Which style has the features I need?
  • What is my budget for a heat press?
  • Which style do I think looks the best?


Other questions you might be asking are:

  • Will the pressing ability differ from one style press to another?
  • Is one style more physically difficult to use than another?
  • Is one style more difficult to learn how to use than another?
  • Will one style of press last longer than another?
  • Is one style more prone to mechanical problems than another?


Let’s find out the answer to all these questions, and more, starting with a relatively new style to the market: EasyPress Style!


The EasyPress Style



The EasyPress 2 is a combination of an iron and a heat press machine. It’s an excellent choice if you are often doing small one off heat press project here and there.


The EasyPress has a single heat plate that is applied onto the heat transfer. Pressure is then applied manually. It has a digital time and temperature display setting.



I have both the EasyPress and a heat press, but I find myself using the EasyPress more often because it’s so quick to heat up and so easy to use. I’ll use my heat press if I’m doing more than one t shirt at a time.


Clamshell Style Heat Press


Promo heat heat press machine right side view digital display

The Promo Heat Heat Press Available On Amazon


Clamshell style heat presses open and close up and down, just like a clamshell.

First the pros, then some cons.


Clamshell Style Pros


  • There are many cheap heat presses available in this style, one example being the PowerPress heat press, Amazon’s most popular and well loved heat press!
  • Clamshell heat presses take up less space than other styles. For example, you do not need to consider space for the top platen to swing around. However, you should always have plenty of space around your press either way.
  • There is less involved mechanically with a clamshell. Therefore, there’s less potential for problems and they’re easier to learn how to use.
  • No need to line up the top platen with the bottom. It only goes down in one place!
  • My personal opinion is that the clamshell style looks the best.


Clamshell Style Cons


  • Unless you get a model which opens particularly wide, – for example this amazing machine – it can be difficult to lay out your garment and transfer on the bottom plate. That whole area is slightly less accessible.
  • Along the same lines, unless your press opens wide, there’s always the risk of burning your knuckles on the top platen. It just means you’ve got to be careful.


This video gives a good demonstration of how to use a basic manual clamshell heat press:



Swing-Away Style Heat Presses



The Swing-Away style heat press opens and closes up and down. Once open it can be swung away to the side (usually to either side, but depends on the specific press).

Swing-Away Style Pros


  • There are many cheap swing-away style presses available on Amazon, if you’ve got a small budget.
  • As the top heat platen swings away, this allows you to work more freely. There is more work room when laying out your garment and transfer.
  • There is less chance of burning yourself (this is why I said you needed to ask yourself earlier how clumsy you were).
  • The basic, cheap swing-away machines are also easy to learn how to use.


Swing-Away Style Cons


  • If you wanted to be picky, you might consider the extra step involved in swinging the top away as a negative. This is really only a con if that extra half a second is precious to you.
  • This style requires a bit more space. You need to be extra careful not to have anything nearby that the top heat platen could swing into.
  • Because of all the swinging, every now and again you might need to tighten the odd screw. They can loosen with use over time.


This video gives you a look at how a swing-away heat press works:



Draw Style Heat Presses


This style is also known as the ‘pull out’ style because you can pull out the lower platen in order to arrange your garment. This allows many of the same advantages as the swing-away style, such as the ability to work more freely, though it is basically a clamshell press with a pull out bottom.


There are cheaper draw heat presses, like the HPN Craft Press pictured (the cheapest draw press I know of), and more expensive machines such as the Hotronix Fusion 16 x 20 combination swing-away and draw.


Draw Style Pros


  • The work area pulls out from under the top platen giving plenty of room to lay out your garment.
  • Your hands are kept safe from the heat of the top platen.
  • Often these machines allow you to slip your t-shirt over the draw. This allows you to have only the side of the t-shirt which you are applying your transfer to under the heat platen. This is especially helpful if you’re doing transfers on both sides.


Draw Style Cons


  • If you’re looking for a cheap heat press, there are not many in this style. The cheapest machines are mainly clamshell and swing-away.
  • There is more potential for something to wrong with the moving parts. This is not guaranteed to happen, of course.
  • As with the swing-away press, you may need a bit more space in order to pull out the bottom level.


This video demonstrates how a draw heat press is used:



 Further Considerations


The features of these different styles become more prominent the more expensive they are. If you get a cheap heat press machine, the style does not play that important a role in determining output or ease of use. It really does come down to which you prefer.  


Expensive machines have more bells and whistles, and coupled with each of the different styles, this creates more meaningful differences. Whereas cheaper machines are all doing the same basic thing, but with slightly different mechanics.


It is not so much the style of press which determines the quality of the end product produced. Nor is it the style which will determine the longevity of the machine. These factors are determined more by the amount of money you have to spend. You can find machines under $300 in all styles, and machines into the thousands of dollars in each as well.


CHECK OUT: The Best Heat Press Machines For Beginners



So where does this leave you if you’re new to the game?


The clamshell style press is a great starter style. They are very easy to use and are best sellers on Amazon. The PowerPress heat press, which we have reviewed, is their number one best seller.


But now that you’ve read all the way to the bottom, let me say what I could have begun with: the style of press is not all that important. This is not something to fuss over if you are just setting out on this adventure.


The differences between the style of machines at the lower end are not so great so as to give you a clear choice.


I recommend going with the type you think you would be most comfortable using; the type you like the look of the best; the type which best suits your price range; and finally, the type that you aren’t going to burn yourself on.


Good luck!


Thanks for checking out our article on heat press styles. We hope you found this helpful! Leave any comments or questions below. 


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