Tag: George Knight

Buying a Heat Press

dc16ap3A question that often comes up in forums and groups about sublimation is what kind of heat press is necessary.   Do you need specialized presses for mugs?  How big should the press be?   Is a cheap press made in China that you found on eBay going to work?  What brand of press do experienced sublimation experts recommend?   A heat press is a larger purchase,  so it’s easy to understand why there would be a lot of questions.   Since we’ve been sublimating and dealing with sublimation supplies (and heat presses) for a lot of years,  I thought I’d try to answer some of the questions I see most frequently.

Q1:  Do you need a specialized press for any good that isn’t flat?  For the most part,  yes.   Hats,  mugs,  plates,  anything that isn’t flat will most likely require a specialized press in order to take a sublimated print.    In some cases,  where a lot of different items will be sublimated,  a combo heat press might be the best option.  This type of press is usually a flat swingaway press that comes with attachments that will allow you to do mugs and other goods that aren’t flat.   A standalone cap press will have a curved platen that allows you to sublimate caps faster and more easily.    Mug presses are generally adjustable and are designed to handle different sizes and shapes of mugs.    If you’re planning to sublimate a lot of one particular item,  investing in a specialty press can be a wise move.

Q2:  How big should the press be?  What’s the biggest thing you’ll ever be likely to sublimate?   The answer to that question will help determine how big your press should be.   Keep in mind that smaller presses may have smaller price tags,  but they aren’t always suitable for a production environment.   When deciding on the size of your press,  you should also take into account how often it will be used,  and for how long each time.    Optional extras like air operated opening should also be considered.   They may add to the cost of the press,  but they’ll save a ton of wear and tear on the operator.

Q3:  Is a cheap press worth the money? There are a lot of off brand heat presses from China available on eBay,  with prices that can be very attractive when you’re on a budget.   Two things to consider before purchasing a press like this are 1) who will service it should it break down and 2)is cheap necessarily going to translate into reliable and accurate?   A press from an eBay seller that may have been made in a foreign country is not likely to have maintenance or tech support attached, and that matters.   Service for a malfunctioning machine can help extend its life and get you back to work faster.   Tech support can help you solve problems and teach you how to use your heat press more efficiently and profitably.     A cheap press may also come with a set of reliability and accuracy issues.   Temperature gauges may not accurately reflect temperatures.   The platens may not heat to the required levels.   There are good bargains to be had,  and there are people who have purchased off brand presses and had them work fine,  but it’s a calculated risk.

Q4:   What brand of press do experienced sublimation experts recommend?  To answer this question,  all I can do is tell you what we know,  from years of experience.    We sell George Knight heat presses,   and the reason we sell them is because we’ve used them.   Our parent company has six plants across the United States,  and all of them have heat presses.   George Knight presses have been in our shops,  working day in and day out for years.     The presses are reliable,  easy to use,  and George Knight has top notch technical support.   So,  when asked,  George Knight is what we recommend,  and not just because we sell them.   We’ve used them,  so we know how well made and reliable they are.   Yes,  they may cost a bit more,  but they’re worth every penny.

If you have a question about sublimation,  please feel free to leave a comment here or to contact us and ask.   We’ve been working with heat presses and sublimation for quite some time,  and we’re always happy to help.

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Uses for a Heat Press

Collage_SwingNote:   It’s very rare that I post the same post on both blogs because the subject matter of the two blogs is so different.  In this case,  however,  I made an exception.  A heat press has so many uses across the spectrum it seemed a shame to not share the content in both places.

Even though it might not seem like it at first glance,  a heat press is a very versatile piece of equipment.  While it’s true that all a heat press can do is heat up and press things,  the variety of  techniques for which it can be used may well make it one of the most valuable instruments in your shop.    Adding a heat press to your set-up can open up a whole host of opportunities for new markets and new sales.    If you’ve never considered adding a heat press to your shop before,  here are some uses for a heat press that may make you think again.

Use 1:  Sublimation – Dye sublimation is a process by which a special ink is printed on a special paper and then the transfer is heat pressed on a polyester garment or a poly coated substrate.  Sublimation offers you the ability to do more complicated designs on garments,  as well as widening the number of items you can offer to your customers.  If you’ve ever wanted to offer mousepads or coffee mugs or jewelry boxes,  then sublimation is the discipline for you.

Use 2:  Screenprint or plastisol transfers – Screenprint is a very popular decorating technique,  but it does have a learning curve,  and setting up a shop can be expensive.    Plastisol transfers allow you to offer screenprinted garments and items to your customers without having to do the screenprinting yourself.  All you need is a transfer,  an item to embellish,  and a heat press and you’re in business.

Use 3:  Vinyl –  This is another popular decoration technique that can be used on garments and other items.  Vinyl is often popular for the names and numbers on sports jerseys and team uniforms.   If you have a lot of school or sports league business available in your area,  vinyl may well be a great addition to your product offerings.

Use 4:  Rhinestones –  If bling is your thing,  then you’ll love rhinestone transfers.   A heat applied rhinestone transfer allows you to add sparkle to garments and other items without having to deal with the hassle of buying rhinestones and placing them yourself.

Use 5:  Decorated patches –  A blank patch,  embroidered or screenprinted by you,  can be heat sealed onto a garment,  backpack or other item.   Sublimated patches are a terrific way to make complicated designs with many colors simple.     If you have a design that won’t translate well into embroidery or screenprint,  put it on a sublimated patch and then heat seal it to the item to be decorated.    Your complicated design is now decorating the item of your choice with one easy press.

Finally,  if all else fails,  and you’re having a busy day at the shop,  you can always make a quick snack on your press.  Now,  we don’t recommend this option,  but it can be done and apparently,  the grilled cheese sandwich turns out quite tasty.