Get a $100 FACTORY REBATE on Graphtec CE-Lite-50 Cutter!
Digital Imaging Solutions and Supplies For Apparel Decorating, Photo Gift, Sign Making & More!
Call Us! Call: 954-989-1250

Learn About Heat Presses For Sublimation Printing & More!

Ultimate Buyers Guide For Heat Press Machines

The Ultimate Buyers Guide For Heat Presses – Don’t Buy A Heat Press Until You Read This!

best buyers guide heat press machines

Learn more about Hotronix heat presses in this video demonstration!

Learn About the Different Types, Purposes, Advantages, Pros & Cons of each Style of Heat Press

Looking to get into heat press printing for the first time?

You’ve come to the right place! has all the equipment and resources you need to get up and running with heat transfer printing, quickly and cost-effectively.

And we have plenty of helpful resources to educate you on the ins and outs of choosing the best machines and materials for your needs.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of heat press machines – the different types, features, and things you should consider when deciding which one is right for you.

Let’s get to it!

What is a heat press machine?

A heat press machine (or simply “heat press”) is used to apply a printed transfer, heat transfer vinyl, screen printed transfers, rhinestones and more onto substrates like T-shirts, mouse pads,  flags, tote bags, mugs, caps, etc, via the heat transfer process.

To do this, the machine heats up the top platen, which is used to press the graphic/design material and substrate together, to a recommended temperature (the temp will depend on the type of transfer).

The platens then hold the materials together for a set period of time under a set pressure; be sure to always follow the specific instructions for each type of transfer you apply.

For example, sublimation on fabric will require a higher temp and “dwell time” while digital transfers from an inkjet or color laser printer will have a lower temp and a different dwell time.

Today’s heat presses come with all sorts of options and features. Basic elements include press type (clamshell or swing-away), pressure adjustment (manual pressure knob or digital pressure readout), and manual or digital temperature controls.

Basic presses come with a simple dial thermostat and timer, while more robust presses have digital controls with memory functions for time, temp and pressure (to name just a few).

On top of the basic features options any press will have, some presses offer custom platens that may work better for your specific applications.

Another factor to consider is whether to get an air-automatic or auto-open press to save time and labor.

As you can see, there are lots of decisions to make when choosing your heat press!

So what should you look for when buying your first press?

What’s the best heat press for my needs?

When choosing the best heat press for your business, there are a few key choices you’ll need to make.

What will you use it for?

heat press t-shirts and totes

A heat press/the heat transfer process can be used in a variety of transfer applications including but not limited to:

  • Digital heat transfers (printed from an inkjet or color laser printer)
  • Sublimation transfers
  • Heat transfer vinyl (aka HTV)
  • Screen printed transfers such as plastisol
  • Rhinestones
  • Embroidery designs

And you can heat transfer your designs, graphics, and materials onto a variety of substrates like:

  • T-shirts, Golf Shirts, Etc
  • Hoodies
  • Mouse pads
  • Tote bags
  • Mugs
  • Caps

Flat heat presses (the most common kind) are used to apply transfers to most any flat item, while caps will require a special “cap press” and mugs a “mug press.”

So a flat press will most likely be your best option, but you may need a cap or mug press if those are what you’re looking to make. However, there is a combination press that has available attachments for mugs and caps but this means having to switch the platens for each type of product you plan on producing.

One of the most popular combination presses on the market is the Geo Knight DC16. It comes with a 14”x16” flat platen and you can purchase additional platens for caps, mugs, plates, and paper cubes.

What size do you need?

The size of press you’ll need depends on how large the transfers that you plan on using are; typical transfer sizes are 8.5”x11” and 11”x17” for a full-size transfer.

While there are many press sizes to choose from starting at 9”x12” for a hobbyist machine, the most common heat press sizes are 15”x15” and 16”x20”. The 16”x20” will accommodate almost any transfer you’ll want to use.

16”x20” machines are especially useful as you can, for example, apply transfers to two mouse pads in one pressing – increasing your production output.

If you’re on a budget, or you want a more transportable press, a 15”x15” machine will be less expensive (and lighter if you need to transport it). However, a 16”x20” press is more comfortable to work on since most of the garment will fit on the lower platen table (without as much overhang) allowing you to place your transfer fast and accurately.

What type of press should I get?

Once you’ve figured out what you’ll be using your heat press for and what size you’ll need to create those products, it’s time to consider the style of press that’s right for your business.

There are two main types, each with pros and cons that will impact your productivity.

Clamshell Heat Press

Hix HT600 Heat Press - Open

Clamshell heat presses are machines that open and close like a clam. The top platen raises approximately 45 degrees and lowers until you make contact with the bottom platen at which point you snap the press closed.

These are perhaps the most common type and are very beginner friendly as they’re easy to operate and require a minimal amount of floor space.

Clamshell Pros

  • Easy to use and beginner friendly (so are the economy swing-away presses)
  • Requires a minimal amount of space and easy to transport
  • Fewest amount of steps to operate
  • Ideal for printing t-shirts, tote bags, and flags in volume

Clamshell Cons

  • Not as suitable for thicker substrates like ceramic tiles and plaques
  • Working under the heat source limits view of the layout area and increases the risk of burns
  • Since the rear of the press closes first, the pressure is not applied all at once, which can cause the transfer to shift
  • Less energy efficient as the heated upper platen is more exposed to room temperatures when open

Here at BestBlanks, we highly recommend the Red-Line Heat Press Clam 15″x15″ if you’re looking to get started with a clamshell machine on a budget.

Or, if you’re confident you’ll generate enough business to invest in a higher end machine, check out the Hotronix STX20 16″x20″ Auto-Open Clam!

Swing Away Heat Press

Hix Swingman15 Heat Press


Swing away heat presses (or “swingers” as they’re known in the industry) are designed so that the upper platen “swings away” from the lower platen, rather than hinging up and down like a clamshell.

With these machines, you can press thicker items, and the extra access to position your transfers on the lower platen with the upper platen swung away allows you to speed up production and reduce waste with faster, safer, and more accurate placement.

Swing Away Pros

  • Easier viewing and adjusting when laying out applications and substrates
  • Suitable for all garments and thick substrates
  • Greater precision in application of heat and pressure as the upper platen closes straight up and down, evenly applying pressure and preventing shifting of the transfer
  • Saves energy as less of the platen is exposed to room temperatures when hovering over lower platen

Swing Away Cons

  • More steps to complete an application
  • A little less time efficient than clamshell models
  • Requires more space and harder to transport since they are heavier (though economy models are lighter)

Here at BestBlanks, we highly recommend the Panther Press 9″x12″ Hobby Press if you’re looking to get started with a swing away machine on a tight budget.

Or, if you’re looking for a more robust solution that the pros use for a higher production environment then check out the Hotronix XF Fusion IQ 16”x20” or the Geo Knight DK20S!

So which heat press should I choose as a beginner?

Once you’ve decided the type and size of heat press you need, there are a few other things you should consider when looking to buy a heat press.


Always important in any business equipment purchase decision, your budget will determine the quality and features you can afford in a heat press.

Lighter, lower quality machines with basic features can be had for as little as $300, and if you’re just getting started in the printing and transfer industry these can be a great option to minimize your investment while you’re still testing and proving your business model.

If you’re already in the industry, higher quality, more robust machines that last longer under continuous use and offer time-saving features are available for $1,000-2,000.


It’s a common misconception that a heavier heat press is a more durable heat press.

While it’s true that many of the highest quality machines are over 100 lbs as they use high quality, heavy platens, that can stand a lot of wear and tear, there’s more to the quality of a press than weight.

Even if you choose to buy a lighter heat press for budget or transportation reasons (it can be tough to lug a 100+ lbs machine to events), a steel frame is very durable, while a cast aluminum alloy frame gives you much of the strength at a lighter weight.

Likewise, the fewer welds the better, as each one creates a potential breaking point under stress.

Also be sure to check for reviews to see what other customers have experienced when using the machine and we highly recommend buying a machine with a warranty (here at BestBlanks, we even offer an exclusive extended warranty above and beyond the manufacturer’s on many machines.

And we highly recommend you invest in a press manufactured in the U.S., as their components and production quality is far superior to foreign-built presses and they’re much easier to repair as many components are user changeable and the parts are readily available.

Customer Support

A broken heat press can put a serious kink in your business, which is why getting a broken press back up and running quickly is essential.

That’s why it’s important to consider the customer support offered by both the manufacturer and distributor of the press you buy.

Does the company you’re buying from have reliable customer service and tech support?

Do they provide troubleshooting resources online and by phone?

Are they quick to resolve customer issues?

These are all questions you should ask when buying your heat press.


Time is one of the key ingredients in a successful heat transfer application, so having an accurate timer built into your machine is essential.

Digital timers are preferred for their accuracy, and some heat presses even automatically open when the timer is up.

When it comes to auto-open presses there are two types: manual and air automatic.

Manual auto-open presses don’t require an air compressor while air automatic presses do.

Both types are available from Hotronix, HixGeo Knight and Insta Graphic. Check out a variety of air automatic heat press options here.


Temperature is obviously another essential heat pressing ingredient.

Bimetallic thermometers are standard but less accurate (5-10 degree temperature variance), while higher quality machines will use an RTD probe (2-degree variance).

Heating elements should be evenly spaced no more than 2” apart to ensure even heating.

And thinner platens (typically used on imported inexpensive presses) will lose heat much more quickly than thicker ones, so if you think you’ll have repeated pressings to do then a thin platen will not retain the heat causing you to wait for it to heat back up to the setpoint.  (eg: in a retail shop or events), you may want to choose a thicker platen model with a higher quality coil in the top platen.

Naturally, more expensive presses have the best quality heat platens with the highest recovering times – meaning the press will recover to the desired heat set point much faster, thereby eliminating waiting time so you’ll be ready for the next pressing!

Force and Pressure

Pressure is another key element of proper heat transfer application, so you’ll want to be sure your machine can apply the correct pressure evenly based on the substrates and materials you’ll be using.

Digital displays are great for getting accurate readings and over the center pressure adjustment provides an even pressure application.

How can I get my heat press business started?

If you’re excited to get going with a new heat press machine you’re already in the right place!

We offer presses that are best of breed in design, construction, and functionality – all at highly competitive prices with unmatched service and support.

Here are just a few reasons to buy your heat press from us:

  • We’ll help you select the right heat press for your needs – check out our heat press comparison chart, see a free demo, or give us a call with all your questions at 1-888-431-7385 or 954-989-1250!
  • Discount pricing and free shipping on many models!
  • Large stock ready to ship, typically same day! (M-F)
  • We offer only the most reliable, best built, leading brand machines!
  • Factory trained USA distributor for all US manufacturers – Why Buy A US Made Press?
  • FREE lifetime (bilingual) technical support!
  • Upgrade/Trade-In Program – save big when you trade in your old equipment!
  • Extended Warranties after your factory warranty expires.

With all those great reasons in mind, head over to our heat presses page to shop our best selling models to find the machine that’s right for you! is a top-tier Authorized Distributor for leading brand heat press manufacturers such as Stahl’s, Hotronix, Hix Heat Presses & Ovens, Geo Knight, Insta Graphic Systems, AIT Heat Press Machines. We fully support and stand behind everything we sell!


How To Sublimate Ceramic Mugs Using a Mug Press

Learn How to Sublimate Ceramic Mugs. It’s Easier Than You Think!

In today’s blog post (and videos!), we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on sublimating ceramic mugs using a sublimation printer and mug heat press machine, as well as a complete checklist of all the materials you’ll need!

Sublimate ceramic mugs video (overview of the process) for sublimation printing with the most current sublimation printers and best mug press on the market.

This is a more detailed video (how-to guide) for sublimation mug printing – Check out our blog post after watching this video!


How to Sublimate Ceramic Mugs: Printing Supplies

Before you begin the ceramic mug sublimation process, make sure you have all of the following materials:

How to Sublimate a Ceramic Mug in 7-Steps

Once you have the right materials gathered for performing dye-sublimation printing, follow the steps below to print a high-quality image on your ceramic mug using a mug heat press machine.


1. Choose Your Sublimation Graphics

The first step in sublimating a mug is choosing the image or graphic you’re going to print on it.

If you’re printing with a Sawgrass Virtuoso Printer (ie: SG400 or SG800). These come with an easy-to-use program called Creative Studio – which also includes hundreds of templates a huge curated library of images, cloud storage and more!

If you prefer, you can also use programs such as Photoshop, CorelDRAW, or Adobe Illustrator to design your own graphics, or download mug sublimation templates here, here, and here if you’re not comfortable creating your own.

When choosing the size of your sublimation graphics, keep in mind that the typical 10 or 11oz sublimation mug is 3×9 inches (3 inches high, 9 wide).

Keep in mind you must use mugs that have a special coating for sublimation printing. These mugs are specially coated in a factory. You cannot coat them yourself.

Also keep in mind that while it’s possible to print full bleed over the top and bottom edges of the mug, some mugs have a tapper that can make it difficult for this to transfer.

So if you’re sublimating a tapered mug, print approximately ¼ inch away from the top and bottom edges.

We also recommend that you copy and paste your chosen design multiple times on a single piece of paper to lower your printing costs and make your production more efficient.

Once you’ve chosen your sublimation graphics, you’re ready to move on to step 2.


2. Print Your Chosen Graphics

When you’re ready to print, you can choose to use full-size transfer paper (8.5”x11”) and gang your images, or use transfer paper that’s already sized for common mug sizes, including 10, 11, and 15 ounces.

Make sure you’ve chosen the correct printer settings for mug sublimation graphics – namely, checking the box “mirror image” and use no more than 300 DPI resolution (any higher will be a waste of ink and take longer than necessary to print).

Then, make sure to select the correct printer, loaded with the correct sublimation inks and sublimation transfer papers, and that you’re printing on the coated side of the paper.

Once you’ve finalized everything, print your graphics. 


3. Cut Your Graphics to Fit your Ceramic Mug

Using a pair of scissors, trim the transfer paper so that the size of the image is slightly smaller than the mug in both directions (to make it easier to tape down).

Now turn the transfer paper so the image is turned in, facing the mug. Tightly wrap the paper around the mug. Make sure the paper is pressed firmly against the surface of the mug.

Secure the transfer paper with heat-resistant tape at each end of the printed transfer.


4. Adjust the Settings of Your Dye Sublimation Mug Press

To prepare your mug sublimation printer, set the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or 204 degrees Celsius.

Set the pressure option to “heavy,” and set the timer for 4-6 minutes (the exact time will vary depending on the heat press manufacturer and blank mug manufacturer, which may require a bit of experimentation to get this right).


5. Place Your Mug into the Heat Press

Once your mug heat press has reached 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 204 degrees Celsius, you’re ready for pressing.

Carefully place your mug into the heat press without wrinkling or folding the transfer paper. This is critical. Any slight crease in the paper will alter or ruin your final design.

Now, gently close the press and begin the sublimation process. Note that the press should firmly snap closed, but be careful to not apply too much pressure or your mug will break.


6. Remove Your Mug from the Heat Press

Once the desired time has passed, open the press and remove the mug using your heat-resistant oven mitt (the mug will be extremely hot).

Quickly remove the transfer paper taped to the mug by carefully removing the tape (a narrow knife or tweezers may help in this process).


7. Allow Your Mug to Cool

Your mug sublimation is almost complete. Set aside your hot mug and allow it to cool for an extended period of time until it’s not hot to the touch (you may also use the low setting of a fan to cool the mug faster).


With Sublimation Printing You Can Sublimate Ceramic Mugs and Create Amazing High Quality Mugs That Last A Lifetime!

Need Help Getting Started with Mug Sublimation?

By learning how to sublimate ceramic mugs, you can produce beautiful (and profitable) mug designs that are perfect for any occasion!

If you want to sublimate ceramic mugs like a pro, then you need the same equipment the pros use.

Check out the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 sublimation printer and Geo Knight DK3 mug heat press to start making high-quality sublimated ceramic mugs today!




Blank Banners Are Back In Stock!

Blank Vinyl Banners Are Back In Stock!

Blank Banners – Select from the many vinyl banner blanks – From Economy to Heavy Duty, Even Cut Your Own Size, Banner Hardware & More!
Huge Selection Of Blank Vinyl Banners – Many Sizes, Types, Grades & More!

Click Here For More Info!

Save 15% on Blank Sublimation Mugs! Stock Up & Save! – Extended to 12/31/17

Blank Sublimation Mugs – Save 15%!

Stock Up & Save! Extended to 12/31/17 Click Here Now!

Save up to $1,000 on The Best Sublimation Printers!

Choose The Best Sublimation Printers!

Save up to $1,000 on Virtuoso SG400 & SG800 Sublimation Printers! Find out more!

Heat Transfer Foils For Garment Decorating

Foil Heat Transfers For Garment Decorating

With our huge selection of color foils, unique holographic and patterns you can create one-of-a-kind eye-catching designs. Foil creates a beautiful metallic finish. These films have a reflective metal foil appearance and have a soft hand too. These heat transfer foils are the latest in apparel decoration.

Foil Heat Transfers For Garment Decorating is an Amazing Material For Creating Dazzling Apparel!

Plus you can mix colors or patterns and still get volume pricing! See them all here!


Stahls Hotronix Heat Press Promotion!

Stahls Hotronix Heat Press Promotion – $150 In Savings!

$150 SAVINGS! FREE 6×10 Bottom Platen & 6×10 Teflon Pad Protector ($150 value) Many models to choose from! See Them Here!

Hix Heat Presses – Save up to $125!

Hix Rebate Heat Press Promotion

Hix Rebate – Save up to $125 on Hix Heat Presses!

– Limited Time Only –
Factory Rebates on the most popular models! Many to choose from! See Them Here!

50% OFF iPhone Cases & iPad Cases!

50% OFF iPhone cases and iPad Cases! Stock up and Save – While Supplies Last

Click Here Sublimatable iPhone and iPad Cases!

Plus see the newest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Cases! Click Here Sublimatable iPhone Cases!

Hix SubliPro CT Countertop Mug Oven For Production

Hix Sublipro Mug Oven (CT Countertop) Mug Oven For Production – Produces 12-15 Mugs Per Cycle!

This mug oven it he perfect solution for high volume mug orders and at a fraction of the cost to mass production conveyor ovens.

The MHix SubliPro Countertop Mug Oven provides an introductory alternative to mass production conveyor ovens for dye-sublimation printing on drink ware such as standard 11/15 oz mugs, travelmugs, shot glasses and pint glasses. It has a porcelain enamel on steel oven interior measuring 15 1⁄4”w x 21”d x 20”h for producing as many as 12-15 mugs per cycle or more than 48 per hour. The Hix SubliPro CounterTop comes furnished with nine position nickel plated rack guides and four nickel plated racks for a variety of substrates of varying heights and diameters.

The oven chamber is heated by enclosed tubular heating elements rated at 7.5 KW with the air circulated by a two speed 1⁄3 H.P. permanently lubricated oven blower motor. The oven is enclosed with stainless steel front, sides, top and rear panels and has insulation applied to the top, rear, both sides, bottom as well as having an insulated stainless steel door with a double pane window.

See The Hix SubliPro Demo Here!

Hix-Sublipro-CT Mug-Oven