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What Are The Main Types of Heat Press Machines Available Today?

To choose an affordable heat press machines for your business can be confusing if you are not informed. Although many brands are competing in the market, there are some recent and popular types which you can select get for your business.

We have researched and found these four as the trendy types due to their quality of prints, their lasting performance, price and ease of use.

They are as follows:

  1. The Clamshell Heat Press Machine
  2. The Swinger/Swing Away Heat Press Machine
  3. Draw Heat Press
  4. Sublimation T-shirt Heat Press

4 Types of Heat Press Machines By the Way They Operate

1. The Clamshell Heat Press Machine

This type of heat press machine carries out its functions on multiple surfaces effectively.

The Clamshell just as the name denotes is hooked on one end, then opens and closes.

Clamshell heat press machine can be used to transfer your artwork in a large quantity on items like mugs, boxes, sweatshirts and any other item you may want to print.

The Clamshell heat press machine has a unique design of its own which differentiates it from the other heat press machines.

Its hinge feature design is placed between the upper and lower platens respectively. This feature allows it to open and close when in use just like a clam.

The Clamshell heat press machine has manually used version and an automatically used version, to give you options for printing.

Also, storing the machine is easy because it is portable. You can either store it in your shop or you can find a little space in your room to keep it without stress.


  • The single-step process makes it easy for everyone
  • Beginner-friendly heat press machine
  • Easy to move around and store, portable
  • Pressure can be increased manually by applying force


  • Suitable only for thin printing materials and not for thick fabrics
  • One needs to be careful while using them to avoid burn injuries
  • Sometimes the pressure can be uneven leading to a lack of precision

Why You Need A Clamshell Heat Press Machine?

  • You can easily operate this heat press machine. No wonder it is recommended for people who are still learning how to use the heat press machine.
  • ​The clamshell heat press is designed to be portable. This will enable you to take your heat press anywhere you go. You can take it to go anywhere you have demonstration comfortably well.
  • Unlike its contemporaries, the clamshell heat press machine saves space for you.
  • It is not complex to use and this makes it a time-saving heat press machine.
  • ​It is designed to mass produce for you any item of your choice. With the Clamshell heat press machine, you don’t need to fear large orders from your clients.
  • This heat press machine is not expensive and will help beginners with a low budget for their business.

2. The Swing Away Heat Press Machine

With this heat press machine, you will actually experience the swinging performance. The Swinger heat press machine is built so as to allow the upper plate to rotate away from the lower plate. This action also enables it to swing back to the place where your material and artwork is laid out.

Due to the swing nature of the heating element, you can easily manipulate and move your materials that are laid down on the lower platen without fear of burns.

Unlike the other types of heat press machine the Clamshell, the Swinger heat press Machine can work on any kind of item no matter its thickness. With this heat press machine to operate, you are free to collect assorted kinds of items to print on even those items with various substrates.

If you are using the Swinger heat press machine, you don’t need to spend money in buying other additional accessories like the press to print on a cup/mug or hat. In fact, this heat press machine is a must-have for both home users and those in the commercial field.

The Swinger heat press Machine enables the operator to have more comfort during operation, unlike the Clamshell whose upper platen is specifically aimed at the arms and hands of the operator by the time the platen is up.

The Swinger heat press Machine is not portable like the Clamshell, rather it is designed to be large and space consuming.


  • Much safer to operate compared to clamshells
  • Offers a more precise print because you can move the surface around more easily
  • Can print on thicker substances than a clamshell


  • Occupies more space than a clamshell
  • More expensive than a clamshell

Why You Need A Swing Away Heat Press?

  • The Swinger heat press machine will enable you to efficiently inspect the whole garment which you have placed on the machine.
  • There is no opportunity to injure yourself with the Swinger heat press hence you are not working with the heating elements.
  • ​The Swinger heat press machine generates even and consistent pressure on the garments.
  • ​It is specifically designed for those who have experience of the heat press machine.

3. The Draw Heat Press Machine

This heat press machine has a movable lower platen which pulls out so that you can have total access to your workspace. The Draw Heat Press Machine gives you the opportunity to lay out your garments without the stress of reaching under the upper heat platen.

However, you should be more cautious while printing so that your designs will not shift out of place when the transfer has not taken place.


  • Offers a very safe heat transfer by moving the bottom platen forward
  • Very precise printing as the designs can be moved around
  • Occupies very little space as it opens up like a clamshell
  • Simple and easy to use


  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for very thick or very thin material

Why You Need A Draw Heat Press Machine?

  • When using the Draw heat press Machine, you are assured of a full view of the layout area.
  • You do not have to work beneath the heated platen.
  • It consumes a little space but you can take it with you anywhere especially for on-site shows.
  • It is very useful when you want to produce a lot of goods.

4. Sublimation Heat Press Machine

This type of heat press machine enables you to effectively transfer high-quality digital designs on your garments.

The Sublimation heat press is a unique machine that ensures that the dye used in the transfer paper does not stain your garments when the heat press surface press down.

Sublimation heat press machine has a big surface which makes it easy for you to transfer your artwork on large items like Sweat chap pants, Sweatshirts, and other larger designs.

All in all, the Sublimation Heat press machine is used for multi-purpose heat transfer.


  • Gives you the best possible outcome which doesn’t fade or peel
  • High-quality and precise heat transfer of the image
  • Safe to use
  • Can print on a variety of surfaces


  • Pricey

All these heat press machines are designed with their own unique features and functions. It is now left for you to choose the one that will be suitable for your heat transfer requirements.

Clamshell Heat Press vs Draw Heat Press vs Swing-Away Heat Press: A Direct Comparison

Let us start with perhaps the most important ‘make-or-break’ factor when it comes to making any purchase – the price. A clamshell heat press is the cheapest of the lot, while a swinger tends to be a little more expensive, and a draw press is even more expensive. If you are tight on the monetary front, we strongly recommend you to check out clamshells.

However, while they are cheaper in comparison to the other two, don’t mistake them to be inferior. They offer a strong build and can last you for a very long time. In terms of durability, clamshells are perhaps the strongest type of heat press out there. 

However, when it comes to many other factors, clamshells aren’t really preferred because people who are seeking precision in their prints would rather opt for something like a draw heat press or a swing-away press because clamshells can’t really print that accurately since you can’t move around the t-shirt much. Another thing where clamshell loses out is when it comes to printing on a thicker surface. Clamshells can’t provide an even print on a thick surface and draw heat presses and swingers are generally considered better options.

Swingaway presses can also help you print on a variety of different surfaces including wood, glass, and ceramic while clamshells are mostly about thin fabrics. One major aspect where clamshells score better than swing-aways is that of the space that is needed to operate them. While in terms of storage, all three machines occupy pretty much the same space, when you are operating them, swingers need a much larger space to operate on. Clamshells need the most and draw presses are somewhere between the two.

Lastly, another major benefit comes to you in the form of safety. Clamshells are the least safe to use because you are very near to the heated platens. When compared to clamshells, the swing-away heat presses and the draw presses are much safer because the upper and heated portion of the platen is further away from you.

3 Types of Heat Press Machines By the Way They Are Operated

By this point in the article, we hope that you are quite familiar with all the different aspects of a heat press machine – including how they function and how many different types of machines there are. While you know about the differences between a swing-away heat press machine, a clamshell press, a sublimation heat press, and a draw heat press machine, you also need to know that there’s another way in which heat presses can be differentiated.

These differences come not in the mechanism in which the machines operate, but in how you operate the machines. There are some machines that need to be manually used, while others function automatically – and then, there’s a third type too: air press machines.

Let us take a closer look at each one of them and try and understand the differences between these three machines:

1. Manual Heat Press Machine

A manual heat press machine, as the name suggests, is a manually operated device where you have to manually apply the pressure, set the temperature yourself, and release it when you think an appropriate time has been passed. These machines usually come with a timer that tells you that the desired time has passed and you can now open the clams of the machine.

This kind of press is simple enough for beginners to understand and use and gives them a good idea about how heat printing works. Moreover, it is a great lesson in setting the right heat, pressure, and time in order to get the best possible prints. People who are just starting out can try their hands at these machines to learn the ropes.

However, a manual heat press machine does not have a pressure gauge built into it that can let you know the exact amount of pressure that is being applied. This is one drawback as you have to depend on the manual exertion of pressure. Also, this isn’t suitable for people with arthritis or other similar bone or muscle-related issues. There’s also the risk of heat exposure and burning yourself if used incorrectly.

2. Automatic Heat Press Machine

When it comes to automatic heat press machines, the biggest difference between them and manual heat presses is that you don’t have to manually open up the clam in these machines. Once the timer goes off, the machine opens up on its own instead of you having to stand next to it and applying manual pressure, and opening it when the task is done.

This is quite an improvement over the manual press because here, you can easily multi-task and do other things such as preparing the next batch of t-shirts for printing while the current one is getting printed. You don’t even have to worry about any burn damages being caused on the t-shirt that you are printing.

There are two types of automatic heat presses: semi-automatic and fully automatic. A semi-automatic machine has to be closed by you manually but opens up on its own. A fully automatic machine can close at the press of a button, which makes your job even easier. Ease of use is the biggest benefit of this heat press machine and while it costs a little extra compared to a manual press, but it gives you the peace of mind that at least you don’t risk your t-shirts getting scorched!

3. Air Fusion Heat Press Machine

These can technically be considered a sub-type of a fully automatic heat press machine. These machines come with an air compressor pump which ensures the maximum amount of pressure possible. You don’t have to exert any manual pressure here and everything is done automatically, which is a huge benefit.

Besides, the higher the pressure, the more even the printing would be and the more high-quality a print are you likely to get. This, in fact, is perhaps the best heat press machine for anyone who is looking forward to getting one for bulk orders. If you have a lot of printing work to do, this should be an ideal option. This is also a great heat press for those who wish to print on thicker surfaces.

However, considering that it offers a much precise level of printing, and an automatic operation along with an air compression pump, you will also need to pay an extra amount for it, which is something that a lot of people consider a drawback. However, for better services, you need to pay a better amount.

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