5 Best T-Shirt Press Machines: Compare & Save

t-shirt press

123RF (Andriy Popov)

We’re going to take the best t-shirt press machines and break down the specs to make it easier for you to discover the ideal heat press for you, whether you need something compact for home use or something more commercial for your business.

Anytime you’re dealing with heat transfer vinyl, a smart die cutting machine will give you that professional edge.

What Are the Best T-Shirt Press Machines?

Cricuit EasyPress 2 in mint green Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Six-by-seven, nine-by-nine, and 10-by-12 inches
  • Top choice for home crafters
  • Digital temperature control up to 400 degrees F
Price: $149.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Bettersub t-shirt machine press Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 15-by-15-inch press
  • Heats up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Professional-grade
Price: $199.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Heat press kit with lots of accessories Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 12-by-15-inch press
  • Comes with five pressing shapes including hat and mug
  • Heats between 200 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit
Price: $213.69 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
15 inch powerful heat press Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 15-by-15 inches
  • Up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Good even pressure
Price: $189.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Heat-Goo white heat press Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Nine-by-nine inches
  • Affordable
  • Heats up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit
Price: $108.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Best for Home Crafters: Cricut EasyPress 2

    Pros:
    • Choice of sizes up to 10-by-12 inches
    • Top pick for home crafters
    • Heats up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Includes rest
    • Digital timer and thermostat
    • Trusted brand
    • Choice of colors
    • Heat indicator light
    Cons:
    • Needs to be lifted for use
    • Not big enough for some
    • Pressure is all manual

    If you need a heat press for home crafting, just get the Cricut EasyPress 2 right now and save yourself some reading. It comes in three sizes: six-by-seven, nine-by-nine, and 10-by-12 inches so there’s a size for every level of home crafting.  

    It’s not a clamshell press like many commercial models. The EasyPress 2 is more like a large surface iron specifically designed to work with heat transfers and sublimation printing. It provides a wide surface with even heating and it’s heavy enough to apply decent pressure on its own before you press down. The plate is coated in ceramic to prevent any sticking.

    There’s a digital thermostat with temperature control up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and a timer. This makes it easy to look at the instructions on your materials an set the EasyPress 2 to the ideal temperature and heating time for your project for great results every time. There’s a heat indicator light that turns red when pre-heating and green when your EasyPress 2 has hit your desired temperature.

    It comes with a heat-resistant rest but you’ll need your own heat-resistant mat for your working surface. A couple of layers of towels will work or Cricut has relatively cheap heat-resistant protective mats in several sizes.

    The nice big handle makes it easy to work with but it is rather heavy so if you have serious grip or hand mobility issues, a stationary model might be more your speed. 

    I like that it has a safety auto-shutoff feature and comes in five different colors. I got a media sample of this press back in 2019 (with no promise I’d do a review) and it’s the press I use today. It’s sleek, compact, user-friendly, and easy to store. 

    VideoVideo related to best for home crafters: cricut easypress 22020-06-30T11:59:58-04:00

  2. 2. Best for Commercial Use: Bettersub Professional T-Shirt Machine

    Pros:
    • Top pick for commercial use
    • Durable and built to last
    • 15-by-by-inch plate surface
    • Heats up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Digital thermostat and timer
    • Adjustable pressure
    • Teflon plate and thick silicone mat
    • Solid state relays
    Cons:
    • Too big for some
    • Difficult to store
    • Needs some arm strength

    For those who need a press to crank out volume with consistency, go with the Bettersub Professional T-Shirt Machine. It’s a commercial-sized press at 15-by-15 inches and is built to run with a life of 26,280 hours–that’s three full years if you’re running it 24/7. 

    This model brings the heat and can be programmed to heat up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. One part of the description says it can reach up to 750 degrees but definitely ignore that. Something went wrong there. The digital timer and thermostat give you great control. Simply input the recommended temperature and length of time given by your materials so you can remove all the guesswork from your printing process.

    A crank knob on the back adjusts the level of pressure but the machine doesn’t include a PSI meter. The plate itself is teflon-coated and it comes with a thick silicone mat for the base plate that’s suitable for use up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    Its only real issue is that the handle sticks a little when new and can be hard to open the plate the first few times. Stick with it and it will loosen up and then you’ll find you can really crank out the shirts. 

  3. 3. Best Accessories: SmartxChoices 5-in-1 Rotating Heat Press Kit

    Pros:
    • 12-by-15-inch press surface
    • Includes flat, mug, hat, and two small press surfaces
    • Digital timer and temperature control
    • Can heat between 200 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Can rotate 360 degrees
    • Adjustable even pressure
    • Includes cotton and silicone pads
    Cons:
    • No PSI gauge
    • Only one mug press attachement
    • Too big for some

    For those looking for a press with the tools you need to print on a wide range of materials, check out this 5-in-1 set from SmartxChoices. With this, you’re not limited to printing on flat fabric.

    It comes with five different printing surfaces: a 12-by-15-inch flat surface press, one curved hat press, one coffee mug press, one six-inch diameter plate press, and one five-inch diameter plate press. The top section of the press is interchangeable with these attachments for simple changes between plates. To make changes easier, the top plate rotates 360 degrees giving you significantly more mobility. This also allows you to move the hot top plate out of the way between prints so there’s less chance that you’ll accidentally bump into it and burn yourself. 

    The heat press itself is controlled with a digital thermostat with temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and a digital timer. The pressure can be adjusted with a manual crank but it doesn’t come with a way to measure PSI. You also get a thick silicone mat to be used to protect the items you’re printing and a thick cotton shim for use underneath the silicone mat when you’re printing thin items like t-shirts to ensure you get the proper pressure.

    The machine is raised up on feet to protect your working surface from heat damage. 

  4. 4. Highest Heat: Fancierstudio Power Heat Press

    Pros:
    • 15-by-15-inch panel
    • Electric temperature control up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Durable enough for commercial use
    • Not an unreasonable size for home use
    • Built-in timer
    • Even adjustable pressure
    • Simple to set up and use
    Cons:
    • Too big for some
    • No pressure gauge
    • Will need a better silcone mat

    The Power Heat Press by Fancierstudio is a nice choice for a clamshell press that’s got enough surface area and durability for commercial work but isn’t so huge that it couldn’t be kept in a home crafter’s room.

    It has a large 15-by-15-inch press surface so you can get even pressure and even heat across the entire surface. That’s not something you can do with a smaller press or hand-ironing. 

    You can tailor your heat to the material with its electric thermostat with a range from no heat at all to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep your printing consistent it also includes a digital timer to keep track of how long the garment has been in the press. 

    Its size allows you to put a lot of pressure and there’s a manual knob to help increase that pressure but it doesn’t include a PSI gauge or way to have uniform pressure with each shirt until you don’t manually press down at all.

    One downside is that you’ll want to pick up a silicone protection mat for your table surface and possibly a thicker silicone mat for your lower plate for an upgrade. You also get a teflon sheet for easier transfers. 

  5. 5. Best Budget Press for Home: Heat-Goo Portable Press

    Pros:
    • Nine-by-nine-inch plate
    • Meant for home crafters
    • Heats up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Comes with mat, heat-proof rest, and teflon sheet
    • Compatible with mug press
    • Five handles for applying pressure
    • Safety shut off feature
    • Easy to store
    Cons:
    • Not big enough for some
    • All pressure is manual
    • Doesn't get as hot as others

    If you need a press on a budget, the Heat-Goo Press is for you. It can get the job done without breaking the bank. 

    The press has a digital timer and thermostat which an heat up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. I like that it comes with all the tools you need including a heat-proof rest for the press, heat-resistant mat to protect your working surface, and a teflon sheet for smoother transfers. 

    A downside to single plate presses is that you have to provide the all pressing power yourself. To address this, the Heat-Goo has five handle-spaces which can help you better distribute weight. You can press down on either the central handle or the heat-resistant spots on each of the four sides.

    Another neat feature is that it is compatible with the separately sold Heat Goo mug press so you can turn this flat press into a round one but that doesn’t seem to be available at the moment. 

    It’s a little small for some but this is a great starter press for people who aren’t sure they’ll enjoy making their own shirts. (How could you not enjoy creating your own graphic tees though?) That said if you’re going to be using your heat press regularly, and certainly if you are making shirts as part of your business, it’s worth it to spend a little more and get something that will last you longer.

Types of t-shirt printing.

There are tons of different ways to print t-shirts and these machines are made for heat transfer and sublimation printing. In these processes, the image is printed separately and transferred to the fabric. 

Heat presses are not meant for other printing methods like screen printing or Direct to Garment printing, also called DTG.

What is sublimation printing and how does it work?

Most heat transfer printing methods apply the image (whether vinyl or ink) to the surface of the shirt. You can generally feel a texture difference with your fingers. The image is a solid that is then stuck permanently onto the shirt. 

But sublimation printing makes the image become part of the shirt. 

Sublimation is the process of something that is solid becoming a gas without melting first--like how solid dry ice turns into "fog" when exposed to water. 

In this type of printing using specialized materials, the heat sublimates the images, forcing the gas through the fabric (or other compatible material) and deposits the image into the weave of the shirt. 

Sublimated printing doesn't leave a surface texture that can flake or peel and tends to last longer.

T-shirt heat press vs screen printing

Heat presses and screen presses can get mixed up because both commercial models are machines with levers for pressing images onto fabric. 

Heat presses transfer solid images using high temperatures but screen printing presses transfer images using liquid inks, one color at a time. 

Can you DIY a t-shirt heat press machine?

Probably but you really shouldn't. I'm envisioning a couple of irons attached to a metal sheet but that sounds like a makeshift torture device from a B horror movie and a recipe for burns if not fires.

Honestly, heat presses are not that expensive and are significantly safer than you trying to DYI a large heated surface. These machines were designed with safety features to avoid lawsuits from people getting hurt. That's a good thing and you should take advantage of that. 

What does the T in t-shirt stand for anyway?

It's called a t-shirt because it's shaped like the letter T. Simple as that. 

As for a mini-history of t-shirts: they've have been around since the early 1900s and started out as an adult's underclothes onesie that was cut in half. It took until Author F. Scott Fitzgerlad used the term for this type of shirt in one of his books in the 1920s for it to be official in the Merriam Webster Dictionary. 

See Also:

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