Best of 2021

Best Heat Press for Small Business for Polished Designs

 June 8, 2021

By  Jane Melcher

If you are looking for a fabulous side hustle to start today, you might want to think about T-shirt printing business. The market for custom t-shirts is set to exceed $10 billion by the year 2025, so there'll never be a better time to begin than today. While the competition may seem stiff, those with excellent marketing skills, a strong work ethic, and of course the best heat press for small business have a decent chance to make it.

The best thing about today's heat press machine for small business is that you don't have to limit yourself to custom t-shirts. You can also do mugs, sports gear, hats, and even umbrellas for companies and individuals. By starting a small printing business, you are not just giving your creativity a chance but also joining the league of small business owners.

What is a Heat Press Machine?

The best heat press machine is a lot like an iron box. It allows you to imprint vinyl designs, lettering and rhinestones onto a T-shirt, hat, tote bag, and other items through heat transfer. There are three categories of heat press machines:

1. Clamshell

Clamshell heat press machines open and close like a shell, and they are hinged on one side. They make the best heat press for small business because they are easy to use and great for beginners. What's more, they take up less space and quite portable. On the downside, you could burn yourself if you aren't careful since you are working underneath the heating element as you layout the garment. The pressure against the garment could also be uneven.

2. Swing-away

The swing-away heat press machine gets its name from the fact that it can swing to and from the lower plate. You lay down the fabric on the lower plate, and then the heated top rotates back into place and makes the imprint. It's an excellent machine for experienced users, and it puts even pressure on the garment. However, swing-away machines are enormous, so you need more counter space, and they are not portable.

3. Draw

If you want the best heat press for small business, draw heat press machines are unrivaled. The lower platen of the machine pulls out so you can lay out the garment and then pulls back in. This machine gives the highest precision level, and there is no risk of injury. The downside is that they are more complicated to use and more expensive.

Our Choice for the Best Heat Press for Small Business

1.Fancierstudio Power Heat press Digital Heat Press

Fancierstudio Power Heat press Digital Heat Press 15 x 15 Sublimation Heat Press Rhinestone Heat...
  • Brand new 15-by-15-inch heat press sheet...
  • Voltage: 110 volts; Power: 1800 watts
  • Temperature Range: 0-699 degrees F; Time...
  • Electronic time and heat control; precise...
  • Silicon-gel base board; Pressure adjustable....

Our first choice is a 15x15 sublimation heat press that comes loaded with unique features and a very good price tag. Fancierstudio Digital Heat Press is a real space saver suitable for small spaces like the corner of your office or sitting room. Its key features include:

  • Pressure adjustable
  • Silicone gel base for stability and safety
  • Electronic heat and time control
  • 110 Volts and 1800 watts power
  • Temperature range 0- 699 Fahrenheit
  • Time range of 0 to 999 s

The small heat press machine allows you to transfer anything from letters to large items on a flat surface. Thanks to the pressure adjustability, you can set the desired amount of pressure depending on what you are working on. It also has electronic time and temperature control, allowing you to control the transfer time. These three features ensure you don't burn the garment or end up with undesirable printing results.

Fancierstudio Heat press is the first in its line to come with a Teflon-coated heating plate. The portable heat press machine also has a beeping stopwatch to alert you when the transfer time is up. It works perfectly on any item, including t-shirts, identification badges, tote bags, and caps.

2. FancierStudio Heat Press Swing Away

Fancierstudio Heat Press 9-by-12-Inch Heat Press Swing Away Heat Press 9"x12" Coated with Sheet...
  • 9 X 12 Fancierstudio Power Heat Press with...
  • Heat Press Style: Swing Away (Green Black...
  • Temperature Range: 0 - 500 F
  • Time Control: 0-999 Second Power: 1100W
  • Voltage: 110V (standard US and Canada)

Unlike the Fancierstudio Power Heat press, this one is a 9 by 12-inch swing-away machine, making it safer as the top plate rotates instead of lifts up. With a swing-away design, you also don’t need to think about every single move you make since the machine is very intuitive and precise. This heat transfer machine is unique because most swing-away heat press machines are not small or portable.

Its key features include:

  • Silicone gel base
  • Digital time and temperature control
  • Precise time set-up
  • Adjustable pressure knobs
  • Temperature ranges between 0- and 500-degrees Fahrenheit
  • 110v: 1800 W power voltage
  • Compact design
  • Teflon coated heat platen
  • 999 seconds timer range

Like all great heat presses from Fancierstudio, it comes with a heater, a silicone base mat, a timer, and an adjustable pressure knob. It can be used to press images or lettering into various items, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, ID badges, and puzzles.

True to the company's reputation, the machine is also compact, uniquely portable, and very pocket-friendly. Unfortunately, FancierStudio Heat Press Swing Away doesn't have Teflon coating, so you have to use Teflon sheets to protect your garments.

3. VEVOR Heat Press Machine 8 In 1 Digital Heat Press Machine

VEVOR Heat Press 12X15 Inch Heat Press Machine 5 in 1 Digital Multifunctional Sublimation Swing Away...
  • [EXCELLENT QUALITY] - With a 12" x 15"...
  • [SWING AWAY FEATURE] - The swing arm is fully...
  • [ACCURATE DIGITAL CONTROL] - Equipped with...
  • [MULTIPLE APPLICATION] - Our economic and...

Many will argue that this VEVOR 8 in 1 digital is the best heat press for small business thanks to its multi-functional sublimation, and they would be right. The only reason why its number 3 here is because it comes with zero instructions on using and assembling the attachments. The machine’s lower platform is detachable, making it easy to attach the different attachments depending on what item you are printing. Its key features include;

  • 15 x 15-inches heating board
  • Digital LED time and heat control
  • Removable silicone pad and cotton pad
  • Full-range pressure adjustment
  • Swing-away design
  • 1050 watts power
  • Temperature range between 32 and 480-degrees Fahrenheit
  • 360-degree rotation swing arm

The attachments include a hat size, 4 for mug press, 2 for plates, and 1 heat press for t-shirts. Since it's a swing-away design, it's almost impossible to accidentally touch yourself with the heating element. Other notable features include the 1/5 inch thick heating board that provides even heat distribution, and the Teflon coated heat platen to protect your garments.

One other feature that makes this VEVOR multifunction heat press machine the best heat press for small business is the overload protector replacement. The red button on the control box will pop up if the voltage is unstable or too high, protecting the heat platen and the control box.

4. Hotronix Auto Open

Hotronix 11"x15" Heat Press Auto Open MADE IN USA - Heat Transfer Press Machine Built To Last!
  • 11" x 15" Heat Platen with a Space-Saving...
  • Warranty: Heating Block: Lifetime | Casting...
  • UL/ULC/CE/ROHS Approved
  • Made in USA

One of the features you should look for when buying a clamshell heat press is automatic opening, especially if you want to print in large volumes. Hotronix heat press is one such machine that automatically opens when the time is up to avoid burning the garment and also enables you to focus on more than one task. Since it's a clamshell design, this quality heat press occupies very little space, and it’s quite portable.

Included features:

  • 11” x 15” Heat Plates
  • It opens wide for easy garment layout
  • Easy to read LCD
  • Clamshell design to saves space
  • Fully digital temperature control
  • Locks down with magnetic assist

Hotronix Auto Open is an 11 by 15-inch heat press that supports items up to 1 inch thick, which is quite good for a small business. It also comes with easy to read LCD digital temperature, time and pressure display, all at a very affordable cost. With the over-the-center pressure adjustment, you are assured of even distribution of pressure and heat on the garment. What’s more, the twin timer allows you to preset two different time settings for two purposes.

If you want an easy-to-use and compact heat press machine, this Hotronix Auto Open provides everything you need at a very pocket-friendly cost. It's made in the USA and comes with a great warranty.

5. PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital Sublimation Heat Press Machine

PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital Sublimation Heat Press Machine for T Shirt, 15x15 Inch, Black
  • Heating Plate: Heat Press 15x15 inch....
  • Silicon Gel Base Board. Pressure adjustable
  • Replaceable Fuse: Protect machine from...
  • LCD Control Board: Fully digital temperature...
  • Teflon coated heating plate: Don't need...

If you have limited space but you want a powerful heat press machine for small business, you will find this PowerPress digital sublimation heat press to be exemplary. PowerPress is a front-runner when it comes to the best heat press machines, and it's no surprise that one of their best is on Amazon's best choice. The machine is perfect if you want to increase your output, and it comes with Teflon-coated platens, so there is no need for Teflon sheets.

Some of its features include:

  • 15 x 15-inch heat plate
  • It works with 1400 Watts and 110V
  • Silicone gel baseboard
  • Adjustable pressure button
  • Replaceable fuse
  • Eeasy to read LCD control panel and timer control
  • Teflon coated heat plate

PowerPress commercial heat press machine has many impressive features that make it stand out among the best heat press machine for small businesses . One of those features is the alternating fuse which helps protect it against any fire hazard. Since it heats to 450 degrees Fahrenheit in 16 minutes, you can use the security chip on the control panel to control the heat. As another safety feature, only one plate heats up to ensure you don’t burn yourself or the fabric.

Buying Guide for the Best Heat Press for Small Business

When looking for the best heat press for small business, you need to consider the user first. Are they professional/ experienced, or have they just started using a heat press machine? Remember that heat presses are potentially dangerous machines, so it's important to choose wisely. For beginners, a clamshell hot press machine with auto open are better because they are easier to use and understand. More experienced users can go with swing-away devices while professionals choose draw machines for precision and class.

That said, you should also think about:

1. The Size of the Plates

The best heat press machine comes in various sizes from 15x15, 16x20, and 9x12 inches. Consider your printing needs and the space you have available before you choose the machine. While it's obvious that the bigger the plate, the bigger the print design, sometimes you may not have space for it.

2. Technology

Heat press machines have come a long way since they were invented, and today they have all kinds of automated features. To make your job easier and safer, look for a durable heat press machine that can auto open, has a digital timer, adjustable heat and pressure, among others. This will prevent burning items or running the machine itself.

3. Temperature

Speaking of features, you want a heat press that you can use on a variety of materials. Its temperature should therefore be adjustable so you can easily move from one material to the other without worry. The heat plate temperature must also be consistent from one end to the other, and you can check this by moving your hand across the plate slightly.

4. Budget

Last but not least, you must consider your budget. It goes without saying that the cost speaks volumes about the quality, so do not go with cheap heat press machine that will break down in no time. Fortunately for you, our list of the best heat press machine for small businesses has 5 amazingly durable machines that are quite affordable. They are also packed with excellent features and automations to make your work easy and exciting.


With the above five top heat press machines, you have what it takes to kick-start your printing business and make it something special. Your work now is to evaluate your needs, look at your budget and pick one that suits your business. Once you choose the best heat press machine, make sure you read the instructions to the letter, and it will serve you faithfully.

Frequently Asked Questions on Heat Press Machine

1. What's the difference between heat transfer and sublimation?

In the context of heat pressing, the heat transfer process is when you print a design onto a heat transfer paper and then use a hot press to heat it onto a garment as an extra layer on top. This means the imprint can come off if you wanted.

On the other hand, sublimation is when you print a design on a special sublimation paper and heat press it onto the garment. The difference is that your design becomes part of the fabric and it can't come out no matter what.

2. What is the best size for Heat Press Machine?

Heat press size depends on the buying intent. If you are a starter doing mugs, t-shirts, caps, and other small items, a 9 by 12 inches machine will suffice. For commercial heat printing where you are branding bigger items, you can go bigger with a 16 by 20 inches if you have space for it.

Jane Melcher

Jane is a stay-at-home small business mom. She makes more than her husband selling her creations on Etsy.

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