The Best Heat Presses of 2020 [The Definitive Guide]

However, it’s important to note that both clamshell and swing-away machines deliver the same performance.

For example, the Rincons 15″ X 15″ heat press[9] is a clamshell design for less than $400. This machine is easy to use and is optimal for printing flat surfaces like sweatshirts, t-shirts, and mouse pads.

printing on sweatshirt

However, the clearance between the top plate and bottom is narrow. This may make it difficult to set up some of your t-shirt pieces correctly. And, you may also accidentally burn the tops of your hands because of this narrow space.

On the other hand, a swing-away heat press transfer machine like the Rincons AP-SW15[10] can print on surfaces such as tiles and wood as well as t-shirts. A swing-away gives you more space to set up your workspace because you can swing the top part away completely.

Bottom Line:

Both the clamshell[11] and swing-away[12] variants deliver similar results. So, your main decision is whether you want an inexpensive and compact machine that prints primarily flat surfaces. Or, if you want a bigger, more expensive machine that can accommodate other types of flat surfaces.

Manual vs. Automatic Release

Next, do you want a manual press or an automatic? What’s the difference?

The answer to this question depends on how often you plan on using the press.

With a manual press, you have to physically open the press. That may not sound like much of a hardship. Especially if you only plan on doing light heat transfer press work.

However, it may become stressful for heavy workloads. Particularly if workers are pulled away to do a different task. When that happens, they aren’t there to babysit the machine.

On the other hand, an automatic release opens up the press as soon as the timer goes off. This feature requires less work and babysitting.

But, keep in mind that automatic release presses are a bit more expensive than manual release. Also, there is more of a chance that the prints on automatic presses may shift when the top lifts. This is because auto release presses may not open as smoothly as manual.

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