Buying a heat press is a big investment, and the decision about which type of press to buy should be made carefully to ensure that you get the type of press you need and one that will provide the most utility for your shop. Since a heat press is one of the more costly items that people who create sublimated goods will need, it pays to do the research and the math before purchasing a press. When making your buying decision, here are five things you should consider.
#1 Is Cheaper Better – A heat press is a big investment and, especially if a business is just starting out with sublimation, the impulse might be to go with a no-name Chinese press from eBay or to start with a smaller press that is less costly. There are, however, a couple of problems with this approach. One is that no-name presses often don’t have service or technical support which leaves you with few to no options if your press breaks. Buying a smaller, less expensive press can also be problematic as the size of the press will place limits on what can be sublimated. The rule of thumb is to assess your needs and take into account technical support and repair options and then buy the biggest press you can afford.
#2 Consider your physical abilities – No, running a heat press isn’t as physically taxing as mining coal or being a mover, but it does take a toll on the body. Smaller people may have more issue with opening a manual press. Standing all day can have an impact on the knees and feet. There are options like auto release pop-up which can make a press easier to operate. Don’t assume that everyone will be able to operate a press with the same level of ease. Take into account the physicality of running a press for hours at a time and do what’s necessary to make that physical toll a little less.
#3 What type of goods will you be sublimating? – One of the biggest questions that needs to be answered before any heat press purchase is the type of goods your shop will be selling. If the goal is to just do garments, a flat press, most likely a swing-away press, would be a useful option. If you want to do hats or mugs or something that won’t work well in a flat press, your best bet would either be a specialty press or a combo press. For those shops doing a variety of items, a combo press may be best, as it combines a flat press with the specialty press options.
#4 Where’s the best place to buy a heat press? – The temptation to buy a heat press on eBay or Amazon, where the prices seem cheaper may be overwhelming, but that’s not always the best place to buy a press. In our opinion, the best option for purchasing a heat press is from a company that knows and uses heat presses. If you can purchase directly from the manufacturer that’s great. When that’s not possible, the next best option is purchasing from a supplier who uses the presses they sell and knows them well. Keep in mind the place that sells you the press may also be the place that provides technical and repair support. The better they know the press, the more able they will be to assist you when you have an issue.
#5 Can you add other disciplines to maximize the utility of your press? – Yes, sublimation is one decoration discipline that requires a heat press, but it is not the only one. If you’re buying a press, you might also want to consider what you already do, or could add to your shop which could make a heat press that much more useful. Rhinestones, screen print transfers, adding patches to hats or bags, there are a variety of options for how a heat press can be used. Spreading the utility out over a variety of disciplines may help your press pay for itself faster, and help you justify the expense of a bigger and better press.