What is the Best Heat Press for Sublimation?

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Heat presses are essential tools for many different applications, but sublimation requires you to look for some specifics when you are shopping. Most heat presses will give you the right temperature range and pressure you need for sublimation, but online reviews often overlook the importance of selecting the correct size and style for your projects.

We’re going to take you through the most important considerations you need to make when you are researching the best heat press for sublimation. Our focus here is on heat presses for sublimating T-shirts, pillow covers, bags, phone cases, mousepads, banners, and any other flat base materials.

In a hurry? Get our top picks here

Best Heat Presses for Small Sublimation Printers

Hotronix Pink Craft Heat Press

  • 9 x 12" clamshell – perfect for letter size sublimation prints

  • Lifetime warranty on heating element

  • Lightweight and portable

WALAPress Manual Draw Press

  • 15 x 15" draw/clamshell – great for t-shirt sublimation

  • Features pull-out lower platen for maximum work surface access

  • Max temperature up to 482 degrees Fahrenheit

PowerPress Flat Heat Press

  • Amazon's top selling 15 x 15" clamshell

  • Budget friendly price

  • Free delivery by Amazon

Geo Knight DK14S heat press

  • 12 x 14" swing away heat press

  • Made in USA with lifetime warranty on the heating element

  • Presses base materials up to 2 inches thick

Swing Design 8-in-1 heat press

  • 15 x 15" multifunction swing away press

  • Includes hat platen, 2 circle plates and 4 mug/tumbler attachments

  • 1 year warranty and lifetime support

Best Heat Presses for Large Sublimation Printers

WALAPress Auto-open Draw press

  • 16 x 20" draw-style clamshell press with auto-open function

  • Ideal for pressing up to super-tabloid sized prints (13 x 19 inches)

  • Threadable lower platen

Geo Knight DK20S

  • 16 x 20" swing away, great for A3+ (13" x 19") sublimation prints

  • Made in USA with lifetime warranty and support on heat element

  • Max temperature up to 600 degrees, and presses materials up to 2 inches thick

Hotronix Fusion IQ

  • 16" x 20" combination swingaway and draw-style heat press 

  • Manufactured in USA, with lifetime warranty and support

  • Digital control panel and smart software

Joto Manual Shuttle T-shirt press

  • 16" x 20" clamshell with manual shuttle between 2 workstations

  • 5 year warranty on heating element; 2 year on frame & electronics

  • Budget friendly option for increased productivity

What size heat press do you need for sublimation?

Whatever type of sublimation printer you have, you want to match it with a press that can give you full coverage of the design in one press. Having a heat press that is too small for your sublimation design will give you poor results. Pressing sublimation projects in sections on a small press will create problems with ghosting and discoloration. This will ruin your product and waste your supplies and your time.

If you have a small sublimation printer you have lots of options for heat presses. Really popular sublimation printers like the Sawgrass SG500 and the Epson EcoTank 2720 both print up to 8.5″ wide. This means that the most common paper sizes for sublimation prints are going to be letter or legal sized. (8.5 x 11″ or 8.5 x 14″).

If you have a small sublimation printer, your heat press options includes small craft presses, and budget friendly Amazon presses. You can also use specialty heat presses like the Cricut Easy Press (but we don’t recommend it).

Is a large heat press required for sublimating shirts?

If you have a large format printer, you need a press to match the size. It’s pretty easy to convert an Epson printer that can print 11 x 17″, or even 13 x 19″. These are great sizes for making full size t-shirt designs, or banners, flags or posters. The problem is that the cheapest, easiest to come by heat presses usually aren’t big enough to cover the full dimension of a print that size.

In order to get the best press of a tabloid print, you should be able to do it in one pressing. The most common standard size heat press that will do this size is 16 x 20″. That sounds really big, but if you are making t-shirts to sell, and you have already invested in a tabloid sized sublimation printer, this is next vital piece of equipment to produce high quality sublimation garments.

What is the problem with pressing sublimation prints in sections?

We understand the impulse to want to press big designs in sections with a smaller press. After all, that’s how a lot of us were introduced to heat transfers in the first place. You would get an iron-on design and press it in sections with a home iron.

If you are coming from an HTV background, pressing in sections and layers is commonplace. (Especially if you have a Cricut EasyPress.)

But pressing large sublimation in sections is a problem for two big reasons:

  1. ghosting – image shifts when you move your material
  2. over-exposure – colors deteriorate or bleed when over-pressed or over-heated (in the overlap area between your pressed sections.)

Why do sublimation images ghost?

example of sublimation ghosting on fabric (Image source: proworldinc.com)

So let’s imagine this scenario. You have an 11 x 17″ print for a t-shirt, and you are using a 15 x 15″ press, so you press the top half, then the bottom half. OK, great. You’ve got the top half pressed and you have to move the shirt and the print so the bottom half is resting in the middle of the platen. Has your paper shifted out of alignment?

Any movement of the transfer sheet can cause ghosting. This means a second, lighter impression of your image is pressed on your base material. Shifting the print and base material mid-press can also result in misalignment or other transfer errors. This will otherwise diminish the quality of your transfer.

This problem can be mitigated by using tacky spray adhesive when you press, but it’s not a solution to the ghosting problem that can arise when you move your garment to press in sections.

Why are sublimation prints discolored?

There is a second major issue of making sublimation prints with an undersized press. If you are pressing in sections, there will be overlap on the base material where you have pressed two or more times. There is usually some latitude when pressing most base materials. But for the sections of your project that are pressed for double the recommended time, your colors will be overbaked.

That is, the black ink will appear brown or your overall color palette will appear faded, dull or yellowed. You may get lucky pressing a shirt or two in sections and avoid serious discolorations where the press overlaps. But if you are planning to do a bunch of 11 x 17″ or larger images on a smaller press, you are going to end up with a lot of ruined shirts you can’t sell or give away.

It may cost a little more up front, but getting the right size press for your sublimation print will save money and time because you won’t be throwing away spoiled blanks and you won’t be pressing twice as many items as you need to get your job finished.

What Heat Press style should you choose for sublimation?

Heat presses come in a couple of different styles, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your projects, you might benefit greatly by selecting one style over another. Here is a quick overview of each popular style of heat press and the basic pros and cons for different sublimation projects.

Clamshell – great for garments and thin base materials

clamshell style heat press diagram

Pros: Clamshell Press

  • budget friendly option
  • lots of different sizes
  • best for sublimating on fabric and other thin blanks

Cons: Clamshell Press

  • Does’t press thicker blanks well

The clamshell style heat press is the most common style of press that you’ll see at most big retailers like Amazon, Michaels or Joann. It is very popular for many different applications like sublimation, but also heat transfer vinyl (HTV), screen print transfers and rhinestones!

Clamshell presses are the most practical choice if you plan on doing sublimation on fabric: shirts, towels, banners and flags, etc.

This type of press is generally reasonably priced, and there is a real range in prices for high quality machines vs low-end presses.

Clamshell presses also come in a helpful range of sizes that will fit the needs of hobbyists with small sublimation printers all the way up to professional sized presses for doing oversized projects. Common sizes range from 9″ x 12″ platens for craft presses up to 16″ x 20″ for small business applications, although the most common size is 15″ x 15″.

The main disadvantage to clamshell style presses is that they don’t do a great job when it comes to pressing thicker base materials, like plaques or photo panels. Because the hinge closes on one side like a set of jaws, thicker blanks won’t maintain even contact with the upper platen while the lid is closed. This will produce a result where the image will not be sublimated properly onto the blank.

diagram of side view of clamshell heat press. application on t-shirt versus application on thicker base material

Swing-Away Heat Press – great for garments and thicker base materials

swing away style heat press machine diagram

Pros: Swing Away press

  • lots of versatility and wide range of sublimation blanks
  • space saving
  • many models available with additional platens for mugs, plates and hats

Cons: Swing Away press

  • more expensive than clamshell styles
  • budget friendly models are generally smaller

Swing away heat presses are great for sublimating thin base materials like fabrics as well as thicker blanks. This is because the top platen comes straight down from above instead of closing from the back like a clamshell press.

Many of these swing away presses are multi-function. This means the top platen can be swapped out for different specialized applications, or the heating cord can be plugged into a mug press. These presses are often labeled “5-in-1”, “6-in-1” or even “8-in-one” presses. They can be very useful if you are sublimating a wide variety of blanks.

This versatility means that these presses usually carry a higher price tag than their clamshell-style counterparts. You can find a wide range of sizes available from smaller craft sized presses all the way up to commercial sized models in this style.

Other features to consider in a heat press for sublimation

Once you’ve settled on the style of heat press, there are lots of extra features you can upgrade to make your pressing experience less physical and more automated. Most base model heat presses are manually operated in the most literal sense of the word. They require physical effort to get them closed and locked and to get them fully opened. That’s why we strongly recommend a few helpful features that will make your heat press experience easier and improve your work flow if you are working in a commercial environment.

Auto open: pros vs cons

Having an automated opening function on your heat press is great for sublimation projects that have longer press times. Once the timer stops, the latch automatically opens and you don’t have to risk scorching or overbaking your base. It lets you have the press time free to work on other things instead of being on standby watching the clock.

But, there is a risk associated with auto-open heat presses. If you are pressing a sublimation print, an automatic opening top platen can spring up suddenly. This creates a vacuum that shifts your printed page while it’s still hot. It creates the risk of ink smearing on your base or ghosting.

Other users have expressed frustration with auto-open mechanisms:

With manual open you can open the press any time you want. So if you want to give a quick 3 second pre-press, you don’t have to reset your timer or have an endless list of silly presets that include every possible combination of pre-press, press time, and temp. With an auto-open press, the only way to manually open is to turn the press off – which cuts the power to the magnet…[With] a manual you can easily control the opening ‘jerk’ which can cause ghosting with sublimation as the sudden movement and gust of air flutters the still hot paper around on the substrate.”

t-shirtforums.com

So, while one solution is to opt for a manual press over an easy auto-open press, another solution that can mitigate this problem and ghosting in general is to use tacky sublimation paper. It gets tacky when heated and sticks to the base material, but can be peeled off after the press. It is meant to prevent ghosting and smearing, and can help cut down on errors when pressing.

Soft close feature (Gas Shock)

Another great feature to consider if you are concerned about ease of operation is a soft close or gas shock mechanism on your heat press. In upgraded models, the heat press lever is operated with a hydraulic cylinder rather than a spring. This allows you to easily open and close the press without having to apply a lot of physical strength.

If you are doing a lot of sublimation printing, this is important because pressing sublimation prints requires higher pressure than HTV. That means adding more tension to the upper platen. In a manual spring loaded press, that means it requires more physical exertion to open the press.

If you are doing large scale sublimation projects, this kind of repetitive exertion could lead to operator fatigue and human error. If you have the budget, you won’t regret a soft-open feature on your heat press.

Threadable lower platen

Having a threadable bottom platen on your heat press means that there is a clear space below the lower platen that allows you to slip a shirt or bag over it so you only have to press one layer of fabric. This makes it much easier to press the front and back of a shirt – you can slip the garment over the platen without removing it. It also eliminates the possibility of over-pressing a design when you are doing both sides of a garment or bag.

Best Sublimation heat presses (for small projects)

So with those considerations from the buyer’s guide, here are our picks for heat presses that match up well with small sublimation printers. If you have a sublimation printer that prints up to letter size paper (8.5″ x 11″) or legal size (8.5″ x 14″), these smaller presses will do the job.

Hotronix Pink Craft Press – Best Heat Press for beginner sublimation

hotronix pink heat press

The Hotronix Pink Craft heat press is the best known small craft press that you may have seen used on YouTube videos or in person at craft and hobby shows. The striking pink color might make you think it’s a toy or a strictly amateur machine, but the Hotronix craft press is a quality machine that will give you great performance.

Key Features

  • 9″ x 12″ platen that makes it a perfect fit for letter sized sublimation prints. Make small designs for adult t-shirts, or kids’ clothing, bags and other flat base materials like coasters, keychains, or Christmas tree ornaments.
  • Upper temperature limit of 420oF which makes it acceptable for sublimation projects.
  • Lifetime warranty on the heating element and a 1 year parts and labor warranty on the press overall.
  • Hydraulic shock lifts to make opening the press easy, but there is no auto-open function.
  • Small footprint (12.75″ x 17.25″) and lightweight (35 lbs.)
  • Digital control panel is easy to manage – it features time and temperature settings only.

Everything about this press is basic and simple to use, and more than up to the task for your small sublimation projects!

Shop for the Hotronix Pink Craft Press at Heat Transfer Warehouse, starting at $375.

Want to shop around? Check the price and availability of this item at Swing Design and Amazon.

Looking for a more budget friendly model? Try the WalaPress 9 x 12″ craft press from Heat Transfer Warehouse. Like the Hotronix pink press, it has a 1 year parts & labor warranty and can heat projects up to 450oF for only $275.

WALAPress Drawer Clamshell 15″ x 15″ Heat Press: Best option for fabric sublimation

If you are looking for a basic, versatile 15″ x 15″ heat press for smaller sublimation projects, this press from Heat Transfer Warehouse will meet all your needs and then some.

Key Features

  • 15 x 15″ platen will accommodate all letter and legal sized sublimation prints, and is great for pressing all sizes of garments
  • Features a pull-out drawer that will give you more room to work without risk of burning your hands on the upper platen
  • Centered pressure knob allows you to increase or decrease pressure evenly over the full work surface, not just at the hinged edge
  • Max temperature setting of 482oF, capable of handling any sublimation project
  • 6 month warranty on the heat press (3 month on the electrical system)

This new 15″ x 15″ press from Heat Transfer Warehouse has some features that sublimation beginners are going to love. The pullout drawer gives you full access to the lower platen so you can set up your base materials easily without the risk of burning your hands on the upper platen. And unlike many other clamshell style presses, the pressure adjustment knob is in the middle of the upper platen, which distributes pressure evenly across the entire surface instead of skewing it to the hinge side.

Shop for the WalaPress 15 x 15″ Draw press at Heat Transfer Warehouse, starting at $499.

Swing Design 15 x 15 inch craft heat press

Looking for a more budget friendly model? Try 15 x 15″ Craft press from Swing Design. While it may not have the pullout drawer or central pressure adjustment of the WALApress, this machine comes with a 1 year warranty and a significantly lower price tag – just $299.99.

Best 15″ x 15″ Heat Press on Amazon

Heat Presses on Amazon are a bit of a touchy subject on this blog. As I’ve written before, Amazon has become flooded with low quality import products, and the heat press category seems especially oversaturated with machines that have odd sounding brand names and prices too low to be believed.

What these heat presses have in common is that they are shipped by third party sellers from China, and they have short warranties, usually about 6 months. They have return policies that make it practically impossible to return faulty products (ie. buyer must pay return overseas shipping on a 75 lb heat press), and many presses seem identical with merely cosmetic differences. If a seller gets banned for too many low reviews or returns, they can simply pop up with the same product and a different name.

That being said, there are two 15 x 15″ heat presses on Amazon that buck this trend. They have long product histories on Amazon, and they have US-based offices that help handle warranty claims. Both are reasonably priced and have very basic features, but they are good enough if you need a cheap heat press for basic sublimation or HTV projects.

PowerPress 15 x 15″ Heat Press

  • Fulfilled by Amazon, not third party seller
  • “A” rating by Fakespot
  • 30 day return/replacement policy
  • Free delivery by Amazon
  • 1 year warranty and free lifetime support
  • Temperature rating up to 455oF, great for sublimation projects
  • Off-center pressure adjuster makes it better suited for garment sublimation, but not thicker blanks

FancierStudio Power Heat Press

  • Fulfilled by FancierStudio
  • “A” rating by Fakespot
  • 6 month warranty
  • Temperature rating up to 699oF, which is higher than you would ever need for sublimation or HTV
  • 1800 watts and uses a 110v outlet
  • Off-center pressure adjuster makes it better suited for garment sublimation, but not thicker blanks

Geo Knight DK14S Digital 12″ x 14″ Swing-Away Heat Press

This powerhouse of a heat press is proof that great things can come in small packages. This compact swing away heat press from Geo Knight is made in the US, has a lifetime warranty, and can press base materials up to two inches thick!

Key Features

  • 12″ x 14″ platen will work great for smaller sublimation prints on letter or legal size paper. Can apply high pressure to base materials up to 2 inches thick
  • Every press from Geo Knight is made to order in the US. This press features solid steel construction and Geo Knight’s Supercoil-Microwinding heating technology.
  • Lifetime warranty on the heat platen, 5 year warranty on the frame, 3 year warranty on the control panel and 1 year warranty on the parts. Geo Knight also offers free lifetime technical support on their heat presses.
  • Upper temperature limit of 600oF
  • Portable weight – 62 lbs
  • Upgrade to 220 volt available
  • Retail price: $695, with financing options available through Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna

The best American-made heat press for sublimation crafters

This swing away press from Geo Knight is a great upgrade for advanced crafters. It is a small press made by a company that knows their business and produces superlative heat press machines. Each press is made to order by Geo Knight, so there is a short wait time before your machine arrives, but the equipment comes with the best warranty and support in the industry.

The DK14S is one of the lower priced offerings from Geo Knight at $695, and besides the warranty, support, and Made in the USA label, it features a high temperature range (up to 600oF) , temperature readouts accurate to ±2oF and Microwinding heating technology.

This heating system is unique to Geo Knight presses, and it provides even, consistent heat across the platen and faster heating times compared to cheaper presses.

Want to shop around? Check the price and availability of this item at Swing Design.

Best multifunction heat press for sublimation

At this time, we’ve got a bit of bad news. Good quality multifunction heat presses (5 in 1, 6 in 1, 8 in 1, etc) are out of stock everywhere. It’s hard to find these handy machines that can be used to press sublimation prints or HTV onto garments, mugs, tumblers, hats and plates.

Blame Covid and the global supply chain crisis, but our top three picks for multifunction press for sublimation have been unavailable for months. Should you roll the dice with a cheap press from Amazon? What we previously wrote about third party heat presses on the giant retail platform goes for multifunction heat presses. Getting a 5-in-1 or 6-in-1 for a price too low to be believed might work out for you, but it’s also a big risk. If your press arrives damaged, malfunctions or is defective, you will probably waste more time chasing support than getting any projects done.

We recommend going with a product from a retailer that specializes in this equipment. While these three presses haven’t been in stock regularly for a while, we strongly advise you to keep checking in. Things are bound to improve at some point!

Option 1: Swing Design 15″ x 15″ Swing Away 8-in-1 Heat Press

  • Sold by Swing Design
  • Versatile 8-in-1 swing away heat press that’s great for HTV, sublimation, rhinestones and more
  • 15″ x 15″ flat platen
  • Mug press base and 4 mug/tumbler attachments
  • Cap press platen (6″ x 3″)
  • 2 x circular plate press (5″ & 6″ diameters)
  • Max temperature up to 480oF
  • 1 year warranty/lifetime support
  • $200 gift card to SoFontsy Design Store for fonts and SVG files
  • Regular price: $479.99

Option 2: WALAPress 8 in 1 Combo Swing Away Heat Press

  • Sold by Heat Transfer Warehouse
  • Versatile multifunction heat press for sublimation projects
  • 12″ x 15″ flat platen for garments/fabric
  • Mug press with 4 size options
  • Cap platen for hats (5.5″ x 3″)
  • Two circular platens (4.5″ & 6″)
  • Max temperature of 428oF
  • 1 year warranty
  • Regular price: $549

Option 3: StarCraft 15″ x 15″ Swing Away 8-in-1 Heat Press

  • Sold by Swing Design
  • 15″ x 15″ flat swing away design
  • includes mug base and 4 size attachments
  • Hat platen
  • circular plates
  • 1 year warranty
  • Temperature rating up to 450oF
  • Regular retail price: $499

Best heat presses for large sublimation projects (11″ x 17″ and up)

As we said earlier in this article, if you are making large sublimation prints for t-shirts, banners, etc. you should be able to press the full sheet in one press without having to move the shirt or print. If you have an 11″ x 17″ sublimation printer like a Sawgrass SG1000 or a converted Epson ET15000, these are your best options. The great thing about getting a 16″ x 20″ press is that you are also able to press super tabloid A3+ size sublimation prints (13″ x 19″) and everything smaller than that.

A couple things to note about these recommendations: we don’t include 16 x 20″ presses from Amazon for the same reasons we stated above. Namely, those presses had poor user reviews, shipped from third parties in China (making technical support exceedingly difficult) and have very limited warranties.

Here are our top picks for large sublimation heat presses:

WALAPress 16″ x 20″ Auto-open Draw Press

If you are looking for a big press for sublimating all sizes of t-shirts, the 16 x 20″ WALAPress is more than ready for the challenge. It comes with extras like a pull out drawer and has an auto-open function to make doing large batches of shirts fast and easy.

Key Features

  • 16 x 20″ heat platen will accommodate all tabloid and super-tabloid size sublimation prints (11″ x 17″ and 13″ x 19″)
  • Great fit for pressing on 3XL and larger shirts
  • Features a pull-out drawer that will give you more room to work without risk of burning your hands on the upper platen
  • Threadable lower platen allows shirts to be reversed from the front or back
  • Centered pressure knob allows you to increase or decrease pressure evenly over the full work surface, not just at the hinged edge
  • Max temperature setting of 428oF, capable of handling any sublimation project
  • 6 month warranty on the heat press (3 month on the electrical system)
  • Regular retail price: $799 (Afterpay and Klarna financing available)

The WALAPress 16 x 20 inch auto-open draw press is a clamshell-style press best suited for sublimating t-shirts, tote bags and other fabric base materials. The auto-open feature helps users open and close the large, heavy press easily, preventing operator fatigue. The drawer-style lower platen pulls out to give users wide open access. The lower platen is also fully threadable from the front or back; these three features (auto-open, drawer and threadability) will allow you to press high volumes of shirts quickly.

Looking for an upgraded model?

Try DK 16 x 20from Geo Knight. This press features Geo Knight’s advanced heating coil technology, with lifetime warranty on the heating platen and multi-year warranty on the frame, controller and parts with lifetime support. This press heats to 600oF and weighs just 83 lbs.

Geo Knight DK20S Swing Away Heat Press

The Geo Knight DK20S is the perfect heat press for people looking for full size capability with the space saving features of a swing away press. This Geo Knight press is a workhorse for garment sublimation and can press other flat base materials up to 2″ thick!

Key Features

  • Matches perfectly with tabloid and super-tabloid sublimation printers (A3 and A3+). 16 x 20″platen size will press large designs onto all adult size garments, including 3XL and larger
  • Flagship heat press from Geo Knight, made in the USA
  • 360o swing radius gives you full access to the work area without risk of burns from the hot upper platen
  • Fully threadable lower platen allows shirts to be reversed from the front or back
  • Max temperature setting of 600oF, accurate to ±2oF
  • Lifetime warranty on the heat platen, 5 year warranty on the frame, 3 year warranty on the electronic controls and 1 year warranty on parts. Lifetime technical support
  • Regular retail price: $1,850 (Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna financing available)

The DK20S is a big step up for serious dye sublimation printers. Not only can you press garments and fabrics of all sizes quickly, the clearance allows you to press much thicker base materials like plaques and tiles too. This Geo Knight press is made to order in the US, and Geo Knight famously backs up their heat presses with lifetime warranty on the heating element and 5, 3 and 1 year warranties on the frame, controller and parts respectively.

Want to shop around? Check the price and availability of this item at Swing Design and Amazon.

Hotronix Fusion IQ Heat Press

Stahl’s #1 bestselling heat press, the Hotronix Fusion IQ combines the functionality of a swing press with the access of a draw press and adds a digital touch screen that allows you to create an unlimited number of preset time and temperature combinations. You can also generate usage reports for your business and share data to help troubleshoot pressing errors.

Key Features

  • 16 x 20″ platen makes it ideal for making full size 11 x 17″ and 13 x 19″ sublimation prints, as well as HTV, rhinestones and pre-printed transfers
  • Flagship heat press from Hotronix, manufactured in the US, with lifetime warranty on the heat platen, 5 year warranty on the cast aluminum frame, 2 year warranty on the electronic circuit board and 1 year warranty on all other parts
  • Unique design combining swing away upper platen and draw-style lower platen to give users exceptional functionality and access while completing projects in a heat-free workspace (the pull-out lower platen)
  • Fully threadable lower platen for easily pressing both sides of garments, plus a wide selection of interchangeable lower platens for different jobs
  • Touch screen digital control that lets users set time, temperature and pressure. Preset library includes 300 popular materials pre-programmed for correct time, temperature and pressure.
  • Smart software generates reports on active, idle and warmup time to help maximize efficiency. Tracks usage by user profile as well
  • Retail price $2,575. Financing available through Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna

How to use the Fusion IQ smart digital touchscreen menu (video)

The Hotronix Fusion IQ is a big step forward for sublimation printers setting their sights on a piece of long-term, commercial equipment. True, it has a higher price tag. But the ease of use and functionality of the swing away and draw press combination, plus the pre-programmed digital controls means that so many production variables are taken care of. This press will have you filling your sublimation orders quickly and expanding the list of products you can make.

You should know before ordering: each press is made to order by Hotronix and requires 10 weeks lead time.

Want to shop around? Check the price and availability of this item at Swing Design.

Joto Manual 16″ x 20″ Shuttle T-shirt Press

If you are looking to increase your productivity without breaking the budget, this manual shuttle press is worth checking out. While one side presses, you can be getting the next shirt ready for pressing. No more lost time waiting for sublimation prints to finish. Double your productivity with one machine!

Key Features

  • Single 16″ x 20″ upper platen with manual shuttle between two work surfaces for increased pressing productivity.
  • Great budget-friendly option for increasing your workflow
  • Auto release function
  • 5 year warranty on heating platen and 2 year warranty on the frame, electronics and parts
  • Heats up to 410oF which is suitable for most sublimation jobs
  • Non-threadable lower platen
  • Retail price: $1,395 from Heat Transfer Warehouse. Financing through Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna

The Joto shuttle press is best suited for garment sublimation and pressing on other thin materials. It doesn’t have the high temperature range of other presses on our list. But the Joto press is more than sufficient for sublimating on polyester and poly-cotton blends.

Our complaint would be the non-threadable lower platen. However, the lower price and 5 year warranty somewhat offset that missing feature. This press works with a standard 120v outlet and draws 1500 watts of power, making it one of the more efficient presses in this size category.

If you want to increase your productivity in the shop with an uncomplicated heat press, the Joto manual shuttle press is a great starting point.

Final Thoughts

By far, the best advice we have is to select a heat press that matches the output size of your sublimation printer.

If you have a small printer like a Sawgrass SG500 or Epson F170 (or converted Epson ET2800), you are going to want a heat press that can handle at least letter sized prints (8.5 x 11″) and up to 8.5 x 14″ (legal size prints). This means getting a heat press that can fit sheets up to 11 (or 14) inches. You can choose a small craft press, or size up to a 15 x 15″ flat press and all of your basic needs will be covered.

If you have a sublimation printer for large prints – 11 x 17″ or 13 x 19″ – we recommend getting at least a 16 x 20″ heat press. This will allow you to complete your sublimation transfer in one press. The one thing you don’t want when sublimating is having to move your print and base material on the heat press to apply heat in sections. Our choices for best sublimation printer for large projects reflect a wide array of styles for your needs: Clamshell, drawer, swing away or a combination thereof.

The presses we chose for our review reflect higher quality, US-made equipment with longer warranties and better support service terms. These presses also have many features that will improve your comfort when working and allow you to work for longer periods at higher productivity without fatigue.

What is your favorite press for sublimation? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credits

Images by Hayden Koo and Edgar Calderón from Pixabay

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