How to Use a Heat Press to Design T-Shirts

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The Machine:

A high quality heat press with time, pressure and temperature settings like the STX Hotronix Auto Clam will be the perfect machine to get your jobs done. It’s best to buy the largest heat press, so that you have the versatility to design on a number of different textiles with the ease of a quick change platen.  The auto clam style heat press has magnetic technology that auto-opens to prevent over application.  As well as an easy lock down feature, so that you aren’t having to put too much tension on the wrists, elbows and shoulders with each press.

The T-Shirt Design:

Once you’ve purchased your heat press, next will be the design process.  There are stock designs that you can purchase from Stahls or Horizon Products.  Horizon Products will specialize in more of your custom design needs.   If you plan on creating your own designs there are plenty of creative supplies to choose from:  rhinestones, heat transfer vinyl, flock transfers, and screen printed transfers.

CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator are the two most popular design softwares.  Once you learn how to use the software your designs can be used with vinyl cutters, printer cutters and you’ll have images that are 100% original.

Purchasing the T-Shirt:

After your design is cut then your next step is to pick out the t-shirt you plan to heat press. Popular types include cotton, cotton/polyester blends, 100% polyester, nylon, Lycra and spandex.  It’s best to order shirts at wholesale places from a website like Mission Imprintables. Some people recommend doing a 2 second press on a plain t-shirt before your actual design press, to ensure that your garment is moisture and wrinkle free.

All About Accessories:

Teflon cover sheets that are 5ml thick.  Mclogan’s makes it a priority to get Teflon sheets that are made in the USA and thicker than the average 3ml sheets.  The 3ml sheets go bad after a few presses.  The 5ml sheets disperse heat evenly, are long lasting and ensure that your materials don’t get stuck to your platen.

Heat transfer pillows made with 5ml Teflon to help absorb seams, zippers, collars or buttons.  These pillows help to raise the fabric, so the heat will go evenly where needed.

Quick slip top platen covers these covers make it so much easier to clean your platens, disperse the heat evenly, and further protect your press. Heat presses have two platens, a top platen and a bottom platen.  The top platen will administer the heat, while the bottom platen will hold your garment.


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