How to use heat press machine- step by step guide

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
February 8, 2024

Heat press printing (or heat transfer machine) is the modern way of printing artworks onto various garments to make them look attractive or pass a particular message.

Heat printing press is not only affordable but also easy to use. Even if you want to print juts one garment or a few of them, you won’t incur any losses- unlike other printing options such as screen printing. No wonder this printing method is a favorite for almost every T-shirt entrepreneur out there.

If you just purchased your new heat press machine, below is a basic step-by-step guide that will teach you on how to use your machine efficiently.

Step-by-Step Guide On How To Use Heat Press Machine

First Things First. What ´╗┐kind of machine is your heat press?

As we all understand, not all heat press machines are created the same. There are these basic models that are meant for doing small at home printing jobs. These are much more affordable and a great option if you’re just starting out your business and don’t have enough budget for a powerful machine.

The professional heat press is intended for making mass orders. They come with a pretty larger platen to offer you a bigger working area that accommodates even the largest of the garments.

This model is also complete with sophisticated pressure, temperature and timer settings. This is perfect for all t-short entrepreneurs who intend to do bulk printing orders in future.

However, regardless of which machine you own, all heat press machines are operated the same way.

If you’re a starter with no single clue how to use your printing device, below is a universal guide for you:

1. Firstly, you ought to power your machine. All heat press machines are compatible with the standard 220V electric socket. Just plug in the machine and turn it on by simply flipping the ON/OFF switch.

2. Next, adjust the thermostat settings by turning the knob to the right until the red heating light appears.

3. Once the thermometer reads the correct temperature value for your transfer, you can now turn the knob back to the left until the heating light goes off. Note that this light will go on and off to maintain your preferred transfer temperature.

4. If your machine comes with a digital timer, start it by pressing its button. When you hear the alarm, press stop to reset the timer.

5. Lift up the machine handle to open your press and set it ready for printing.

6. Assuming you want to print a tee and you already have a transfer paper containing the artwork to be printed with you lay out the garment on the machine. Lay the transfer paper onto the t-shirt while facing down.

NOTE: You can opt to preheat your garment (without placing the transfer paper) for around seconds to remove moisture and creases.

7. With the transfer place on your shirt, bring the handle down such that it locks firmly in place.

8. Set your machine timer according to the instructions outlined on the transfer paper you are using.

9. Life the cover/handle- when the timer alarm starts- to open the press and peel the transfer sheet from your garment.

10. Allow about 24 hours for your print to lock before you can wash your garment(s).

Useful Tips To Get The Most Outcome From Your Heat Press Machine:

Applying Too Much Heat

Never be scared of using a lot of heat because the process requires a lot of it to evenly and appropriately transfer the artwork to your garment.

If you don’t a lot of heat, you might end up with your design not sticking properly which may cause an issue during washing. Most beginners tend to think that too much heat will brush their tees.

If you’re one of them, just sample print any t-shirt you don’t mind burning and you will gain some confidence with the garments you are working.

The rule is- just follow the temperature settings recommended on your transfer paper.

Choosing The Right Fabric

Did you know that not all fabrics are suitable for heat press printing?

Any garment that melts when put on a hot surface (i.e, heat sensitive materials) should never be heat printed on. If you’re printing a t-shirt or any other material that will need washing afterward, be sure to pre-wash them. Otherwise, they’ll form weird looking wrinkles after the first wash.

The most popular fabrics for heat press printing include nylon, spandex, cotton, polyester, and Lycra.

How To Load The Garment Onto The Machine?

Always load the garment you wish to print on into the machine straight. The last thing you want t witness when working with your machine is a crooked print. None of your clients will buy/wear crooked tees!

And to prevent that from happening, always make sure that the tag is correctly aligned to the back of your device. For a quick and more efficient way of positioning your t-shirt properly, go for a unit that projects a laser onto your shirt.

ALWAYS Test Print:

Before you can print your design to your transfer paper, always make sure you test it by simply printing it on a regular piece of paper.

Transfer papers are costly, and you don’t want to waste your cash. Printing a preview is critical in that it helps you check if your design will appear within the margins, whether the colors print correctly, and of course, it gives you an idea of how your artwork looks when printed on paper.

Before printing on a tee, you can also consider testing your transfer paper on an old garment. Again, this will give you an idea of how your end product will look like after printing.

One More Tip: Before placing your garment on a heat press machine for printing, always make a point of stretching it. This helps prevent your prints from cracking.

Final Thoughts: 

Using a heat press machine is completely easy. Regardless of their different designs, styles, and functionalities, all heat press machines conform to a similar operation mechanism.

Besides our step by step guide for operating this printing machine, be sure to go through your user manual as well for more insight on how to use your machine.