Let’s see which one fits you by checking out their own unique pros and cons.
1. The Clam shell
This is the typical press you see in most screen printing/heat press shops.
Reasons why is because the clam shell takes up less space than any of the 3 heat press machines and makes things a lot easier to manage in a production setting.
Like most people in the industry, my first press was a used clamshell. It was made in China and I got it really cheap off eBay.
It was a great machine that introduced me to heat pressing garments and a great machine that taught me what NOT to do.
Pros for Clamshell Heat Press
Great for beginners
Takes up least amount of space
Straightforward and easy to use
Cheapest compared to other heat press machines of the same size
Cons for Clamshell Heat Press
It gets a bit restrictive towards the back of the print area which can affect alignment and overall workflow.
Your hands get heated up as they are directly under the heat platen. Risk of getting burned is high.
2. The Swing away
The second type of press is the swing away.
This press type comes with a swivel that moves away from the platen. It so happens that press which I’ve been using for the past 5 years is a swing away. Here’s my 3 cents on why I moved to the swing away:
Pros for Swing Away Heat Press
Full access of the layout area makes it easy to load substrates
Safe from very hot workspace
Applies an even and consistent pressure throughout print area
Able to handle thick, heavy apparels and garments with other embellishments
Because it is generally heavier compared to others heat presses, it is more sturdy.
Cons for Swing Away Heat Press
Requires more workspace to accommodate the swing arm