Heat Presses

Heat Press vs. Hand Iron

Heat Transfer Vinyl has become very popular among t-shirt decorators.  The introduction of lower cost and “craft” vinyl cutters in to the market has made cutting vinyl much more affordable.

Most heat transfer vinyls can be applied using a hand iron.  It is recommended that you set your iron to the “Linen” setting, and apply as even of pressure as possible to each section of your design for anywhere between 20-30 seconds.  This will usually provide good results, but it’s tough to be sure that you were able to apply adequate and even pressure to each section of your design.

For more professional results, it’s good to invest in a heat press.  A quality heat press will provide even heat and pressure across the entire platen for the time specified by your heat transfer vinyl supplier.

Heat Transfer Vinyl will last the longest, and look the best, if the time, temperature, and pressure applied are all accurate and even.  If you are using your Heat Transfer Vinyl to produce garments for sale, it’s best to use a heat press to make sure the transfer will look great when your customer receives it, and years down the road.

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Understanding Heat Press Accessories

There are a lot of accessories available for your heat press.  Understanding the available accessories, how and when they’re used can have a big impact on your business!

Cover sheets 

Cover sheets are used with almost every heat transfer.  Their purpose is to protect the transfer, material being applied to, and the platen of your press.  Commonly used cover sheets are Reusable Cover Sheets (“Teflon” Sheets), Kraft Paper, and Silicone Cover Sheets.  You can achieve a different effect on some transfers using the different cover sheets.  Reusable cover sheets can add a bit of Gloss, while Kraft Paper and Silicone sheets usually provide a Matte effect.  Reusable cover sheets are the most durable.  If you take care of them, they should last dozens, if not hundreds of presses.  Kraft Paper will usually last 25 – 50 presses and Silicone cover sheets will normally last only a few presses.

Pad Protectors

“Quick Slip” Pad Protectors are made of the same material as Reusable cover sheets.  Their purpose is to protect your lower platen from damage due to an accidental press, reduce wear of the pad on the lower platen, and make it easier to slide your garments on and off the press.  A Quick Slip is a “must” for any heat press owner!

Heat Printing Pillows

Heat Printing Pillows are used to absorb thick seams and neck lines, pockets, and other obstructions.  Pillows are made of very similar materials to the Reusable Cover Sheets, stuffed, and sewn.

Print Perfect Pads

If you have a “hard” obstruction that cannot just be absorbed by the Heat Printing Pillows, or if you need to raise the application area, you’ll want to use a Print Perfect Pad.  Zippers and Buttons are common examples of obstructions that make a nice flat surface area difficult to achieve.  The Print Perfect Pad targets your application area and allows the obstruction to fall to the side and out of your way.

Interchangeable Platens

Hotronix Heat Presses are outfitted with a “quick change” platen, giving you the ability to quickly and easily change out the lower platen that is on your press.  Available Platen sizes are 6″ x 10″, 8″ x 10″, 7″ round, 11″ x 15″, as well as some “specialty” platens, like the Hat Bill Platen, Can Cooler Platen, and Shoe Platen.  Custom made Platens are also available.   The 6″ x 10″ and 8″ x 10″ platens are ideal for smaller application areas, like a left chest application, new born and toddler apparel, or labels.  The 7″ round platen is ideal for the ends of Tote bags and other “hard to get to” areas.  11″ x 15″ is my preferred platen for decorating women’s apparel and any simple “front” applications.  Changing out the platen will make the application process much more production friendly, as well as help to eliminate any ruined garments because of uneven pressure!

All of these (and more!) accessories are available from Imprintables Warehouse.  Click or call today!

(Another) Heat Press Innovation

Which is your favorite?  The Swing Away or a Draw heat press?  Both have their advantages to you, the consumer.  Would you like the draw action so you can view your work area from any angle?  Or do you prefer the swing away option to completely move the heat?  Odds are, you’ve had jobs where both features would come in handy.  Now what about a fully threadable lower platen?  How many different settings do you have for your various heat transfers?  Wouldn’t it be simple to cycle through them?

If you’re in the business, what is your “dream machine”?  Hotronix has created a press that should be the closest thing.  Introducing the Hotronix Fusion!  The Fusion should offer you everything on your wish list.  Fully threadable platen, check.  Easily to change lower platen, check.  Auto on/off, check.  Touch screen, digital display, check!

Do yourself a favor.  Check out the video and see what this press has to offer your business!!

Heat Press Innovations

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.

AY

Trade Show Video

Hello all.  I exhibited at the NBM Printwear Show in Charlotte a couple weeks back and shot a video with the folks at NBM in our booth.  The video was limited to three minutes but you can get an idea of the products I represent at Imprintables Warehouse and also get a chance to view a bit of our Trade Show Booth if you haven’t made it out to see us at a Trade Show before. 

Here’s the link to the video:  Imprintables Warehouse Booth – Charlotte.

Also, if you’re interested in coming out to a show, the Trade Shows page on the site has been updated with the shows Imprintables Warehouse will be exhibiting at next year and the shows which I will be attending.  As free registrations are posted, I’ll add them to the site as well.  Keep checking  back!

Leasing Equipment Q&A

When is it a good idea to Lease equipment vs other purchasing options?  I’ve asked Chris Pfriem with ACG Equipment Finance to help answer a lot of the common questions about leasing. 

 

Q:  What are the primary benefits of leasing equipment vs. other purchasing options? 

A:  Generally, there are a few reasons why customers choose to lease in an “up market and also in tighter financial market we face today.”  First, leasing offers 100% tax deductibility.  Second, leasing conserves companies lines of credit with their bank since LEASING is “Off Balance Sheet” financing.    Companies can use Leasing for equipment purchases and keep their LINES of credit open for cash reserves or payroll, or for expansion purposes.  Lastly, many of my repeat customers come back to ACG for convenience.  Banks prior to freezing up credit can and in many instances are hard to work with.  Banks want financial statements from an accountant which costs money and time.  With LEASING, for most transactions up to $100,000.00, all that is needed is a one page credit application.  Decision time for LEASING is usually within a 24 hour period.  Banks can take days to make a decision.
 
 

Q:  What are the tax benefits of a lease*? 

A:  100% of the monthly payment is written off as an expense. 

 *It is recommended that you consult with your tax professional to review your tax savings based on your tax bracket and financial situation.

 

Q:  Do you have a minimum purchase amount to apply for a lease? 

A:  $1,000.00 

 

Q:  What is the timeframe from start to finish to receive my equipment? 

A:  We have many customers approved the same day they have submitted their credit application.  Once we receive the quote from Imprintables, we email the contracts to the customer and include a pre-paid FED-X label.  Once we receive the originals, we issue Imprintables the PO, and from there Imprintables ships the equipment. This can take just 24-48 hours to get completed.  (I suggest all customers contacting their Imprintables representative for shipping times and dates for delivery)  

 

Q:  What are the payment terms that are available? 

A:  We lease from 12, 24, 36, 48, or 60 months.

 

Q:  Can you be flexible with your payment plans?

A:  YES, depending on credit and the customers time in business, we have offered 3 and 6 month deferred payment plans to help a customer with cash flow while getting their equipment running for profitability. 

 

Q:  Are there buy-out options? 

A:  We have 2 buyouts.  One and the most common is a $1.00 buy out lease.  At the end of the term, the customer owns the equipment for $1.00.  The other and less common is a 10% residual lease.  Example for a $19,000.00 deal…After the lease is over a 10% or $1,900.00 balloon payment is required to be done with the lease.  (A 10% buy out lease would have a lower payment vs.. the $1.00 buy out lease.) 

 

Q:  What is my monthly payment? What is the rate? 

A:  In Leasing, we do not use an APR.  This is a LEASE and not a loan.  With leasing, we use a monthly matrix factor to calculate the rental payment.  This matrix factor is based on risk..  The lower the payment, the lower the risk etc.  Payments are calculated basically with 2 things.  First, is the personal credit.  Second, is the companies time in business. 

 

Q:  What if I am a new business and what if I have “not so good” credit? 

A:  We have a very high approval percentage at ACG.  We have programs to fit most credits and we do new businesses. 

Most approvals are good for 60-90 days.  Chris suggests to any customer who is interested to Email Him about your needs and your credit and to fill out a credit application.  There is NO OBLIGATION once approved.

Chris also asked that I post some additional documents that can also be helpful.  Please download and read the “Why Lease” and “Lease vs Bank vs Cash” documents from the “Box” on the left.

Heat Press Olympics

It’s my first official post.  It’s Olympic time.  Why not?  As I sit here trying to focus on my first post, I cant help but be distracted by the Olympic Games.  What is it about the Olympics that generates so much interest?  Is it the National Pride?  Is it the fact that it only happens every 4 years?  Maybe it’s just having the opportunity to see the best athletes in the world competing on the highest level. 

How interesting would it be to have a “Heat Press Olympics”?  Now what could be the games?  Don’t you worry, I’ve already thought about it…

Heat Press Ping Pong– A game of paddle skill.  Three separate classes will exist.  Clam Shell, Swinger, and Draw.    Curious about the game?  Read on.
 

The Clam Shell game may be considered the easiest of the three.  Since a Clam Shell Heat Press looks like well, a clam shell, all that will have to be done is to hit the Ping Pong ball off of the bottom then top platen.

An example of a Clam Shell style press, The Phoenix Phire, is pictured below. 

 

The Swing Away Press aka Swinger will be the medium level.  Given the Swinger’s upper platen moves fully to the side of the lower platen, the Ping Pong Ball will have to be played off the floor and then the upper platen.  You may be able to get a full view of the garment on the press and you wont be burning any knuckles, but the view of that little white ball will surely be blocked. 

The Hotronix Swinger

Finally, the Draw.  For those who may not know, the Draw Press gets it’s name because the lower platen comes out much like a drawer.  This makes it very easy to get to everything that you need to pre-press, but how can you possibly hit the ball between the platen and press at those angels?  Still only one bounce here folks.  Only the most talented. 

The Hotronix Draw

Alright, one game down.  What’s next?

Heat Press 50 & 150– No hurdles here. The 50 is a race to 50 completed Heat Transfers and, naturally the 150 is a race to 150 pressed Heat Transfers.

The race to 50 requires speed and agility. Using the Auto-Release Phoenix Phire pictured above in Clam Shell Ping Pong, each competitor will have 50 transfers of their choosing to press. With the Auto-Release, competitors won’t get easily tired out pressing and opening the press with each application.

The 150 may require a little more fire power. The Hotronix Air Swinger would be the Heat Press of choice here. The Air Swinger will apply the transfers and conserve energy for the competitors. All the competitors will have to do is press two buttons for the press to come down and release after the programed time! Seems easy, I know.

And Finally…

Speed Weeding – It can be said that this is a game of patience and requires a keen eye.  I say it just takes a little practice.

Speed Weeding will draw the crowds.  Seeing small pieces of Heat Applied Vinyls or Films as they (mostly) truly are fly through the air at astounding speeds is bound to draw awe from attending spectators and high ratings from the interested watching in the comfort of their home.  For those who don’t know, Weeding is the practice of taking away the “waste” material from a design cut on a Vinyl Cutter, leaving just your precisely cut Name, Number, Name & Number Combo, corporate logo, or just a really cool looking design on a Mylar backing ready to be Heat Pressed down.  For a fun, and I’m sure appreciated twist, Synchronized Speed Weeding can give you the help of a friend or even a family bonding experience. 

Now the best part about these Heat Press Olympics is that they do not have to be categorized as a Summer Or Winter Olympic Games.  Instead, these games can be enjoyed year round.  A Heat Press gives your business  opportunities no matter what time of year it is.  Tips, tricks, ideas and innovation will be coming your way.  Stay tuned!