What's the best heat press machine for small business? (updated for 2024)

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
December 27, 2023

Custom t-shirt printing is one of the most popular side hustles today and for a good reason. The global market for custom t-shirts may exceed $10 billion by 2025, which is why there's no better time than now to start your printing business. While the competition might seem off-putting at first, those with unique design ideas, a strong work ethic, and of course, the best heat press machine for a small business, have a decent chance of leaving their mark in this tough but exciting industry.

The t-shirt is a wardrobe staple, which means that tees will always be in demand. Furthermore, a blank tee is literally a blank canvas. By starting a small printing business you are not only giving your inner artist a chance, but you're also channeling your inner entrepreneur as well. But good ideas aren't enough. You need the right equipment as well.

What Is a Heat Press Machine?

A heat press machine is similar to an iron. It's a machine that allows you to imprint vinyl designs, lettering, and even rhinestones onto t-shirts, tote bags, and more through a heat transfer process.

Three Types of Heat Press Machines

The three most popular types of heat press machines are the clamshell, the swing away, and the draw.


A clamshell machine is perhaps the best heat press machine for a small business. Clamshell machines are incredibly easy to operate. For example, you don’t need to be worried about lining up the top platen with the bottom. Furthermore, they are less mechanically complicated which means that there is less potential for problems. Clamshell heat press machines are relatively small. They're also portable. They're budget-friendly as well.

However, some clamshell machines don't open wide enough for some purposes. Furthermore, clamshell machines increase your chance of coming in contact with a hot top plate. So consider your needs carefully.

Swing away

Swing away machines, also known as Swingers, are heat press machines that swing to the side when loading or offloading your garment. Many deem a swing away model to be the best heat press machine for a small business.

One of the most significant advantages of swing away machines is the fact that you can spread your item on the bottom platen with greater precision. Furthermore, because the top and bottom plates separate, it means that you can imprint designs on thicker materials.

Nonetheless, swing away machines require plenty of space and are not exactly portable. Keep in mind that once in a while you might have to tighten a screw or two as a result of all the swinging you’ll be doing. In general, swing away machines tend to be more expensive than clamshell machines.


Draw heat press machines are also known as “pull out” press machines. The lower platen of a draw machine pulls out for a comfortable arrangement of your garment.

When it comes to precision printing, nothing can beat draw machines. That might make a draw machine the best small heat press machine for a small business. There is also no risk of injury with draw machines because you don’t need to work beneath a heated platen.

Draw machines require plenty of space but are nonetheless portable. Draw machines are more mechanically complicated than other heat press machines which means that there is more potential for moving parts to break down. In general, draw machines are quite expensive.

Heat Transfer vs. Sublimation

Heat transfer and sublimation are the two most popular types of printing. Some sellers say their heat press machines are suitable for sublimation. But the truth is, you can use any heat press machine for sublimation, as long as it meets the necessary temperature and pressure requirements.

Heat transfer

The heat transfer method involves printing a design onto transfer paper and heating it with a heat press. The design is then imprinted onto a garment as an extra layer on top.


Sublimation printing involves printing a design on special sublimation paper. The design is then pressed onto a garment via a heat press. The difference is that with sublimation, your design becomes part of the fabric and will last for as long as the product will last itself. The tradeoff is that sublimation only works on light colored polyester fabrics and on hard surfaces that have a poly coating.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Heat Press Machine

Want to find the best heat press machine for a small business? There are a lot of factors to consider.


Person Counting Money

Your budget is, of course, one of the most important factors. Generally, clamshell heat press machines are the most affordable. However, you can also find relatively inexpensive swing away and draw machines too. Second-hand machines are also a good option for those on a tight budget.

Machine type

The type of machine that you opt for will depend on the type of designs that you are looking to do and the kind of products you are hoping to sell.

Each model has its advantages and disadvantages. A clamshell model is the best heat press machine for a small business looking to do flat t-shirt design transfers. Complicated designs, lettering, and rhinestone presses require machines that provide more precision, such as a swing away or draw.

Automatic, semi-automatic or manual?

Manual heat press machines are less expensive than the other two models. A manual model is the best heat press machine for a small business that works with small batches. On the other hand, if you plan on pressing hundreds of t-shirts a day, an automatic machine is better.

Single purpose vs. multi-purpose

A single purpose machine is the best heat press machine for a small business that specializes in one particular product, such as t-shirts. If you offer a wide range of products, on the other hand, you will want to invest in a multi-purpose machine.


Some companies offer a warranty that lasts a lifetime whereas others provide a more limited warranty.

How We Reviewed

We chose the six best heat press machines for small businesses by reading expert reviews. We also examined customer ratings and reviews on Amazon.

Best Heat Press Machine for a Small Business

Tshirt Print

Below are our six top picks for the best heat press machine for a small business, in no particular order.

PowerPress Industrial Quality Heat Press Machine

There's a good reason why so many people consider this clamshell machine to be the best heat press machine for a small business. This affordable 15 by 15-inch machine can handle many objects, including t-shirts and sweatpants. It's one of the most reliable heat press machines out there. Weighing in at around 53 pounds, this machine can heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a Teflon coated heating plate. A one-year warranty guarantees the replacement of machines with quality defects.

Customers gave PowerPress Industrial Quality Heat Press a rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars on . Quite a few customers use this machine to print custom t-shirts for their part-time business. One customer noted that in the past three months he pressed more than 2,500 t-shirts. Customers mentioned that this heat press machine is easy to use and is of solid build. However, a few customers said that the temperature is unstable and that the machine randomly shuts off.

ePhotoInc Heat Press Machine

This 15 by 15-inch clamshell machine is the best heat press machine for a small business that specializes in small to medium scale projects. It has a sturdy steel frame and weighs around 50 pounds. It also has a digital temperature and time display. The heating part of this machine is Teflon coated which provides a non-stick surface. This machine can heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Its timer range is between zero and 999 seconds. This heat press machine can be used straight out of the box. It comes with a three-month seller warranty.

Customers gave this heat press a rating of 4 out of 5 stars on . They mentioned that the heat is consistent and that the machine comes with a handy protective heat sheet. Other customers remarked that the vinyl adheres perfectly and does not come off after wash. However, one customer mentioned that the machine fails to heat evenly. Some customers also remarked that their machine stopped working for no apparent reason.

Promo Heat Press Machine

The Promo Heat Press is yet another machine that many believe to be the best heat press machine for a small business. It has a 15 by 15-inch pressing area, and it is suitable for printing on flat items. This clamshell machine comes fully assembled. It has digital LED time and temperature control which alerts you when the machine reaches the pre-set heat. In addition, the machine's Teflon coating prevents your tees from getting scorched. This heat press machine has a special knob that allows you to adjust pressure depending on the thickness of your material. It weighs around 65 pounds and can heat up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn't come with a warranty.

On Amazon, customers gave this heat press machine a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Customers noted that this heat press machine is perfect for beginners. Most customers found the setting screen very easy to operate. However, some customers mentioned that this machine is hard to open. Another customer noted that a bolt keeps coming off and that the machine gets too hot and scorches t-shirts, despite all of the features that are supposed to prevent this from happening.

F2C 5 in 1 Pro Heat Press Machine

The F2C 5 in 1 Pro Heat Press Machine is one of the best heat press machines on the market. It's the best heat press machine for a small business looking to invest in its future. The 16 by 20-inch machine features touch screen technology and live digital pressure and temperature readout. This impressive machine, which weighs 150 pounds, boasts special EZ plates that allow fast loading. It can print on items that are up to 5/8-inch thick. The manufacturer offers a five-year warranty on major parts, a two-year warranty on the circuitry board and a one-year warranty on all other parts and labor.

Customers gave this machine a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on . One customer noted that this machine is very similar to a computer in that it has a touch screen and is easily programmable. Another mentioned that it is user-friendly and stands out as a result of its quick production times. Nonetheless, a few customers mentioned that this machine is prone to breaking down.

Mophorn 5 in 1 Heat Press Machine

This 12 by 10-inch heat press swing away model can print on many items including t-shirts, caps, and mugs. As such, it is the best heat press machine for a small business that offers its customers a wide array of custom products. The multi-spring balancer feature means that the design can be printed evenly over the surface, regardless of the curvature. This machine also boasts two plate presses, one mug press, and one hat press. The digital swing feature allows for quick operation. It heats up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit and has a time range of zero to 999 seconds. Like most good quality machines, the Mophorn 5 in 1 also has a Teflon-coated platen press. This product does not come with a warranty.

On , customers gave this heat press machine a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. Customers loved the fact that this machine doesn't need assembling. Pretty much everyone agreed that this machine is user-friendly. One customer was impressed by the fact that it only takes this machine 30 seconds to imprint a design on a t-shirt. Another customer mentioned that it is not at all difficult to change parts and go from a hat press to a heat press. However, one customer found that the machine only heats up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Another complained that the heat press imprints wrinkles, thus ruining the product.

FancierStudio Power Heat Press Machine

Much like the Hotronix Fusion Heat Press, this machine is a hybrid -- it’s a mixture between a clamshell model and a draw model. Many consider this to be the best heat press machine for a small business. Its features include electronic time and heat control, precise time set up, adjustable pressure, and silicone-gel based board. The latter feature ensures that the base of this machine does not move. This machine can heat up to 699 degrees Fahrenheit. It prints on a wide variety of products and on a wide array of materials. It weighs around 50 pounds. Most FancierStudio products have a six-month warranty.

On , customers gave this heat press machine a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. Most customers noted that this machine heats up very quickly and stays hot. The time and temperature settings are also easy to adjust. On the other hand, some customers found that the timer did not work. Others found the temperature uneven.

Which Heat Press Machine Is Ideal for Your Small Business?

Numerous factors, such as your budget and the nature of your small business, will influence your choice when it comes to picking out the best heat press machine for a small business.

Those who are all about saving space and money should consider purchasing a clamshell model, such as the very popular PowerPress Industrial Quality Heat Press Machine. On the other hand, those who are clumsy, as well as those who plan on printing designs on thicker materials should consider either a swing away model or a draw model, such as Mophorn 5 in 1 Heat Press Machine or FancierStudio Power Heat Press Machine.

Do you have a favorite heat press machine that didn't make this list? Or perhaps you have experience with the models we reviewed.