Compare Your Heat Press Options

Explore the three heat-press options and their best uses in this quick tip. 

If you’re shopping for a heat press and you’re not quite sure which option is the right one, look no further. Here’s a quick breakdown of each press and what they offer a heat-printing business.


Clamshell heat presses are typically less expensive than the other two styles and also require less working space than swing-away presses because they open vertically.

Clamshell presses are ideal for pressing thinner substrates, such as T-shirts and work well for vinyl and sublimation applications. There are a couple of things to be aware of due to their design:

  • Positioning shirts and garments toward the back of the press can be difficult and increase the risk of physical burns.
  • They lack the consistent pressure afforded by swing-away models.


Swing-away heat presses generally cost more than clamshell presses and require more working space. However, their design allows for the easy placement of substrates without fear of burns. Swing-away presses also work exceptionally well with thicker substrates such as award plaques, and they are ideal for transfer papers, given their consistent pressure.


In this industry, it’s common that we’re juggling multiple tasks as we fulfill orders and personalize customers’ products. That said, having an automatic heat press can be a great benefit as you don’t need to stay by your press lest you forget about it. Having a press that automatically pops up when the timer goes off greatly diminishes the likelihood of burnt, scorched, and ruined products.

Jim Tenholder

Jim Tenholder is the dealer sales manager for Imaging Supplies Warehouse, a global wholesale distribution company that provides laser, inkjet, heat transfer, and sublimation supplies to resellers in the product personalization industry. He possesses 15+ years of sales experience in the specialty printing market, with three years specifically dedicated to garment decoration. Tenholder has devoted his focus and energy to thoroughly understanding every aspect of the transfer printing process, and because of this, ISW is now one of the few select OKI-exclusive distributors in the world. He can be reached through the following channels: Email: Phone: 314-567-7565 Website: Twitter: @imagingsupplies YouTube:

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