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How Much Does a Heat Press Cost?

When you start a t-shirt printing business, purchasing a heat press machine is one major investment. This machine comes in different sizes and has different features, performances, and heat press styles. 

So, before you get the best heat press machine, consider the size of your operation. Then, you can rest assured that the purchased heat press machine meets your requirements. 

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You can get a big heat press machine for a comparatively smaller enterprise as there is a growth potential but not vice-versa. 

Also, if you are starting a t-shirt business from home, try choosing a smaller heat press machine so you can comfortably do the custom apparel printing work. 

A smaller heat press machine is generally available between $200 to $1000. But a professional heat press machine is expensive equipment. So, you would have to pay around $1000 to $3000. 

What is a Heat Press Machine?

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A heat press machine uses heat to print designs on different objects. It’s a versatile machine that requires pressure from the heated upper plate onto the lower plate to get the desired print. 

Heat press machines will apply for a transfer under pressure at a higher temperature for a given time. Therefore, you can easily control the machine’s temperature, printing duration, and pressure. 

The upper plate of the machine mostly offers the correct amount of heat required to imprint design on garments. A balanced pressure from both plates results in even design printing. 

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The heat press printing process is very convenient to follow, requiring specific printing and heat settings. Correct usage of heat press machines will help get reliable and professional applications that can last a lifetime. 

For this printing method, you need a heat transfer or vinyl transfer paper and specific ink. The heat press method is ideal for small batches of printing. Most small custom apparel business owners use this machine as it does not require huge space and is easy to set up. 

As heat press machines can print full-color designs, they have become popular in the textile industry. Also, the machine takes less than 3 minutes to beautifully print the design on garments, tote bags, and more.

Heat press machines can last somewhere between 10 to 20 years, but it needs constant care and maintenance. So, you must regularly do its dusting and lubrication. Plus, keep the upper plates clean, protect the lower plate, and test the temperature before using. 

Advantages of Heat Press Machines:

  • It’s an economical option for small custom apparel business owners.

  • The machine is simple to use. 

  • It’s an ideal option to start a t-shirt business or home production. 

  • Prints high-quality designs. 

Disadvantages of Heat Press Machines:

  • The machine doesn’t seem to work properly on darker fabrics. 

  • Compared to other t-shirt printing machines, it takes longer to print. 

  • It cannot be used on shirts that are sensitive to high heat. 

Other Methods for T-shirt Printing Business

#1 Screen Printing 

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Screen printing is a popular t-shirt method that guarantees good design replication. Many professionals use it because it produces detailed designs, even on darker fabrics. 

You need a stencil (or template) design that you want to print on garments to use this method. Then you need a mesh, made of synthetic materials like nylon, to hold your stencil. 

Before you begin the printing, the mesh has to go through pre-processing, so it gets a clean area identical to the design. After that, spill ink all over the mesh. Then use a squeegee to press the ink, so the entire area is equally covered. 

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This process helps you replicate the exact design on the t-shirt. If there is some extra ink, you can easily wipe it away. 

Screen-printed transfers give impressive results but aren’t suitable for all types of printing. However, this method helps produce many of the same designs as the stencil can be used multiple times. So, for mass production, you can rely on this method. 

While screen-printed transfers can be used to print multicolor designs, they might not be the best option for creating complex designs. 

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Advantages of Screen Printed Transfers:

  • It guarantees high-quality printing. 

  • The method gives out durable printing. 

  • Third, it’s great for bulk printing. 

  • If you use a single design, this printing method can generate fast results. 

Disadvantages of Screen Printed Transfers:

  • It’s a complicated printing method for small quantities. 

  • Not an ideal choice for creating complex designs. 

  • It is costly. 

#2 Dye Sublimation 

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Dye sublimation is the right method to create big and complex designs. But this printing method can only be used on lighter fabrics like polyester. If you try to use this method on cotton fabric, the result might not be appealing. 

Dye sublimation offers high-quality printing, but you must know the process before using this method. You first need a special liquid dye and then apply it on transfer paper. 

After the transfer paper dries, use heat and pressure for sublimation. This method differs from screen printed transfers, requiring you to dye directly on the fabric. 

As a result, the design gets beautifully printed on the fabric, and you don’t feel it under your hand. 

If you want to print on lighter fabric or wish to create a unique multicolor design, dye sublimation is the right method. Use this method for your t-shirt business.

Advantages of Dye Sublimation:

  • This method is good for printing large designs through transfer paper.

  • It lets you create unlimited patterns and colors. 

  • It is durable. 

Disadvantages of Dye Sublimation:

  • It only works on lighter fabric. 

  • Also, if it is used for smaller quantities, it can be pricey. 

CAD- Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing 

It’s a heat transfer method commonly used to print logos, numbers, or names on sports t-shirts or jerseys. The process of using the heat transfer vinyl printing method is simple and easy to understand. 

You need a machine to cut out designs and letters on colored vinyl pieces to use this method. Then each vinyl piece is transferred to the t-shirt using a heat press. It’s an ideal method for printing 1-3 colors in smaller quantities. 

Advantages of CAD-Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing:

  • It’s a durable printing method. 

  • You can use this method to print anywhere on the t-shirt. 

  • It can be used on any type of fabric. 

Disadvantages of CAD-Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing:

  • It’s a time-consuming process.

  • Pantone colors can’t be matched with vinyl printing. 

  • It cannot be used for printing simple graphic text-based designs.

How Much Does Other Type of Heat Press Machine Cost?

Below are some more types of heat press machines that you can use on other materials. 

Mug Heat Press 

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The mug press machine helps in beautifully transferring sublimation on cups. This machine also works on water bottles. It gives out a full-color image, which is sharp and vivid. The average price of a mug press is between $100 to $400. 

Mug printing has become on-demand, as one can print outstanding designs for any occasion. If you are into the custom apparel printing business, diversify your line of products with printed mugs. 

Hat Heat Press 

Next is the hat press that you can use to print unique designs on caps. You can consider getting a hat press machine in your operation for higher profits.

The cost of purchasing a hat heat press machine is pretty reasonable. You can get high-quality heat presses between $130 to $270. Over time, the hat heat press machine will offer you a better return on your investment.  

Plate Press 

You can also purchase a good heat press plate machine to add divert to your stock. It will allow you to offer your customers different plate designs for every occasion and season. This way, your brand can have a different identity. 

As the heat transfer on the plate is done through sublimation, you will get the best results. A plate press machine will cost you around $290 and offer a great return on your investment. 


Buying a heat press for custom apparel printing is a huge decision. But if you prioritize your requirements, you can confidently pick the right machine. Also, you must consider the size of your operation. 

Smaller heat press machines are ideal for home-based businesses. But if you have a larger t-shirt printing business, choose a bigger machine to fulfill the demand. You can get the best heat press machine for your t-shirt business.