Heat press maintenance tips: That make your machine long lasting

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
February 4, 2024

A heat press t-shirt printing machine is the heart of your garments printing business. It’s a moneymaker that you should always handle with utmost care if you want it to give you the best at all times.

Just like any other machine, the heart press requires some maintenance for it to run efficiently. And these maintenance checks should be conducted at regular intervals for an efficiently running machine. Not forgetting that proper maintenance will extend the lifespan of your heat press machine.

While different brands produce different models with varied features and capabilities, all of them can b maintained by doing the following things regularly:

Keep The Upper Platen Always Clean

A clean, smooth surface is one of the key factors in a successful transfer if your artwork to your garments with a heat press machine. As such, it will be a good idea if you got into the habit of cleaning your upper platen at regular intervals.

Among other things, this will prevent the buildup of excess ink which might lead to the improper application of the heat transfer, curing direct-to-garments ink, and other factors.

If you keep your upper platen as clean as always (with no ink buildup), your machine will have an easy time keeping the pressure and temperature even, while keeping the garments clean.

How Do You Clean The Upper Platen?

Firstly, you need to power off your machine. When the platen is completely cool, apply some mineral spirit to a soft fabric and use it to gently wipe down the platen to remove the entire residue present.

Important Note: Never use anything rough to scrub the residue off your upper platen as this might damage the Teflon coating. And because mineral spirits ate highly flammable, use extra caution and keep away from flames, sparks or hot platens.

Protect The Teflon Coating

Just as your Teflon coated pans and pots prevent foods from sticking and makes cleaning real simple, a Teflon coated upper platen aids in preventing the inks from permanently sticking on the platen surface.

If your Teflon coating contains deep scratches, it will lead to areas of uneven pressure or heat on the platen. This will prevent parts of the press from releasing from the carrier paper- leaving uneven lay down of ink on your garments.

As much as you would like to keep your platen scratches free, you need to avoid placing any buttons, zippers- or anything else with sharp edges on it. Interchangeable upper planets would be of great help here.

For instance, say you’re printing on left chest logo to a jacket with a zipper. Use the 6” x 6” lower platen.

The jacket area that’s going to be printed will be draped over the platen. In other words, smaller platen size ensures the zipper hangs off to the side, ensuring that only the 6” x 6” area is exposed to the platen.

What if you press machine comes with a non-Teflon coated upper platen?

Well, the deal here would be to employ a Teflon cover to protect your platen. This way, ink buildup will be prevented, and if your platen gets dirty, you can easily clean or replace it at a low cost.

If you decide to add this cover, ensure you raise the transfer temperature to a few degrees to compensate for the heat being absorbed by the Teflon.

Regular Lubrication

Want to prevent undesired stress on your machine pivot points?

Great! Regular greasing of the machinery can work the trick out.

Grease all the pivot parts once every month (or more if your machine is always under heavy use). Failing to lubricate your machine regular will cause the pivot joints to dry out, and they will be subject to friction and wear.

What’s more, your machine will also become a bit difficult to operate as the pivots points will harden and offer resistance to any movement.

With regular use, grease is likely to build up on the exterior of your machine, and this can lead to oiling your garments. To prevent this, always wipe off the excess grease on your machine before you start using it.

Keep The Air System Clean (For The Automatic Heat Press Models)

Automatic heat transfer machine operates using air compressors. These compressors pump air obtained from the surroundings into the machine air system. Failure to observe proper maintenance will cause moisture and dirt particles to take a toll on your machine and cause leakages to the air system.

Always examine the air filter element to ensure it’s as clean as necessary. When it gets dirty, don’t hesitate to replace it. The replacement frequency depends on how dirty your air system equipment is.

If it gets too dirty, it might not be able to effectively strain out air particles which will eventually clog your machine’s air system.

Also keep your machine’s air system totally dry. The buildup of moisture can quickly clog the filter and even cause air leakages. Consider using a desiccant air dryer- accessible from your heat press manufacturer- on your air pressure regulator.

This will help extend your machine’s air system lifespan by pulling by pulling all the moisture present in the air being pulled in.

If the moisture begins to build up, drain the bowl frequently.

Protect The Lower Platen Rubber Pad

Offering protection to the rubber pad on the lower platen is a crucial part of the overall heat press maintenance. As you know, the rubber pad (usually referred to as silicone pad) plays a huge role in your machine’s ability to deliver even pressure during printing.

The regular, simple act of loading and unloading t-shirt from your machine can eventually cause wear to the edges of the rubber pad. And this affects the pressure of the outer press edges.

Pressure will also be affected when the pad gets punctured due to the use of sharp/hard objects like button or zipper.

The secret to protecting the pad from possible damage is simple. Employ a Teflon cover on the lower platen. This will safeguard the pad by allowing your garments to easily slide on or off- by making it harder to puncture the pad.

Using the Teflon cover will undoubtedly extend the life of the pad. Plus it will ensure even pressure right from the platen center to all the edges.

Bottom Line:

A heat press printer is the bread and butter for many businesses in this era. That being said, giving it routine proper care is the secret to ensuring it lasts for a lifetime and conducts its intend job smoothly and more efficiently.

Follow the above-discussed maintenance tips, and you’ll always get the best from your machinery, over a long period of time.