Want to make your own T-shirts? You’ll need a screen-printing machine, also known as a “heat press.” A heat press machine is the best method for apparel printing because you can use them for a variety of designs and print on a plethora of materials.
A heat press works by heating a metal surface called the platen. Once the platen is heated you must apply pressure, and once the pressure is applied to the heated surface, it transfers the decal, print or image onto the T-shirt or material you are printing on. When buying a T-shirt printing machine, you want to look for a digital timer and temperature control, adjustable pressure knobs, and you want to keep in mind what size garments you plan on printing on so that you buy a machine that will fit your needs – literally.
Whether you’re starting an apparel company, printing tees for charity, or just want to have an outlet for your slogans, artwork and ideas, screen printing machines let you put your creativity to canvas. They’re easier than you may think as well, making them a great DIY option for your home.
1. F2C 5-in-1 Professional Digital Transfer Heat Press
The F2C 5-in-1 Professional Digital Transfer Heat Press Machine has a large 12″ x 15″ heat press surface that gives you a wide area to create all different size designs on a variety of materials. This machine can print on hats, mugs, plates, pads, and T-shirts. This is a reliable heat press that’s 5-in-1 multifunctional, and while it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some higher tech heat presses, it has all the basic functions a heat press needs. It is a great companion for the at-home crafter.
Pros: Large work surface, 360-rotation, digital control for pressure and sensitivity, 5-in-1 multifunctional.
Cons: No setup instructions included.
2. Fancierstudio Power Heat Digital Press
Fancierstudio’s power heat press has a 15″ x 15″ press pad to work with with electronic heat and time control. It has a silicon-gel based board that’s pressure-adjustable and includes a teflon sheet to work with. It’ll perform the heat transfers you need to create excellent designs with great ease of use, providing industrial strength, temperature and pressure when pressed down. It’s easy to operate and will embed your designs permanently.
Pros: Great pressure and time control, industrial strength, easy to use, large pressing surface.
Cons: Timer may malfunction from time to time.
3. Super Deal Pro Digital Swing Away Heat Press
The Super Deal Pro Digital Swing Away Heat Press can print/transfer on T-shirts, garment bags, mouse mats, ceramic tiles, plates and more. It can easily transfer images onto cotton, metal, ceramic and glass. This machine comes with a digital LCD timer and LCD temperature control. The LCD timer lets you preset the time and an alarm will sound you when the time is up. This feature helps prevent overexposure of heat. The digital LCD temperature control makes sure the machine stops heating when it reaches the temperature you set it to. This machine can be used for every day use and long production use in a commercial or home setting.
Pros: Reliable timer and temperature control, swing-away design that saves space, LCD screens that are easy to read.
Cons: Surface gets very hot so be sure to keep away from children.
4. TUSY Heat Press Machine
TUSY’s screen printing machine is very easy to use, with an LCD screen on top that displays time and temperature so you can keep track of the progress of your designs. The heat press is 15″ x 15″ so you’ve got plenty of space to work with, and it’s fully pressure adjustable so the power is in your hands. It also has an over-heating safety feature built in that’ll turn off the heat plate automatically if it detects a burn, fire or other accident.
Pros: LCD screen that’s easy to read, simple to use, large pressing space, anti-overheating safety feature.
Cons: Not a great option for beginners as the instruction manual is not very detailed.
5. Transfer Crafts T-Shirt Screen Printing Machine
Transfer Crafts’ screen printing machine has heavy pressure and high temperature capabilities that are easy to maneuver and control for the best results. It’s ideal for use on t-shirts, bags, jigsaw puzzles and more. It comes fully ready out of the box and has electric time and heat controls that are easy to see on an LCD display. The pressure is easy to adjust via a knob on top of the machine, and the temperature can ready up to 500°F easily, much hotter than your standard home iron.
Pros: Easy-to-see controls, arrives ready to use out of the box, clear and reliable pressure knob, high maximum temperature.
Cons: Produces a very loud sound when in use.