The heat press has come a long way from the days cold spots, uneven pressure and inaccurate temperature readings. There has been one company primarily responsible for making the heat press the fine tuned machine that it is today – Stahls Hotronix.
Around 20 years ago, Heat Presses weren’t nearly as accurate as they are now. Heating elements were located on the top side of the platen and spaced as much as six inches apart. The temperature was measured using a Bi-Metallic thermometer, also on the top of the platen. Bi-Metallic thermometers coupled with the location of the elements caused a 10 degree variance in the set temperature of the press. A transfer that was to be applied at 350 degrees could have actually been applied at as low as 340 degrees or as high as 360. A variance like that can and probably will greatly affect the quality of the transfer.
Hotronix developed the first cast in heating element and RTD temperature sensor. The cast in heating element took the element from the top of the press and placed it inside the upper platen. Heating elements were also made much closer together, moved to less than 2″ apart. The RTD (Resistance Temperature Device) measured the temperature not on the top side, but at the pressing surface of the heat platen. Hotronix was also the first to add a Digital Temperature readout. The old meat thermometer readout was very difficult to set an accurate temperature and even more difficult to read. With heat transfers calling for a very specific temperature to be applied at, being off a few degrees coupled with the 10 degree variance caused many more heat transfers to fail and many more $ out of your profits. Off all the innovations i have and will speak of, incorporating the digital readout was probably the most important innovation made in the heat transfer business.
Accurate temperature is just one of the important pieces to the Heat Transfer puzzle. Another, equally important piece is Time. The timer, if there was one, on the press of yesteryear was essentially a “wind up” kitchen timer. When it buzzed, time was up. As with temperature, the time the transfer is being pressed has to be accurate. Inaccuracies can lead to a transfer that’s not very easy to peel and can affect the adhesive quality. As with Digital Temperature, the Digital Time readout allowed a better end product.
Digital Time and Temperature was first added by Hotronix a while back. More recently, a Digital Pressure readout has also been added. Digital pressure eliminates the guess-work that had always been associated with manual heat presses. Pressure is measured on a 1 – 9 scale with one being the lowest and 9 being the highest or firmest pressure. Now, a heat transfer will be pressed at the same pressure no matter who is manning the heat press.
The upgrades I’ve discussed so far have been upgrades that have made the press a more accurate machine. The Auto-opening developed within the last few years is an innovation that made the machine much easier to use. The digital timer along with an electromagnetic release and shock opening cut user fatigue in half. Now, a press operator only has to close the machine, it opens automatically, on time, by itself.
Other Hotronix innovations include:
- Stress relieved heating element eliminates warping caused by excessive heat. A warped element can lead to uneven pressure.
- Upper flotational platen on clamshell machines virtually eliminates the pinching effect found on any other clamshell design. The flotational platen also allows for even, consistent pressure.
- Over the center pressure adjustment easily and evenly distributes pressure throughout the entire surface area.
- Laser cut steel makes a stronger, more durable press.
If you’re looking for a company that stands behind their equipment, Hotronix is unrivaled. Their support is top-notch, and warranties are easy to understand and hardly ever needed. At Imprintables Warehouse, I have set up many a customer with a Heat Press manufactured by Stahls Hotronix to start out or expand their existing business. I’m confident their business was easier to run and more profitable because of their decision to go with the “Cadillac” of Heat Presses.