Using a Heat Press

The apparel and textile market is enormous, as everyone needs and wants to wear clothes of all kinds, for many occasions, from T-shirts and polo shirts to slacks, gowns, gloves, blouses, and much more. What is more, a piece of clothing is not always “finished” when a consumer buys it; customized clothing and accessories is hugely popular among all demographics, often to put custom patterns or logos, new colors, or extra fabrics on an existing garment for fashion and personality. Sewing and embroidery are just the start; heat transfer technology opens up a whole world of clothing customization, and specialty presses or a manual heat press can transform a shirt or pair of pants entirely. A custom heat transfer job can be just the thing a trendy consumer would want. How can a custom heat transfer job create the perfect pattern? When is it time for custom heat transfer with a machine?


The clothing market is enormous, and knowing what’s out there can help a consumer decide what items to customize, and how. In the United States alone, the garments and apparel market was worth right around $315 billion in the year 2016, and estimates show that it may reach $385 billion by 2025. Across the United States, there are plenty of professionals ready to create and modify clothing for customers, with around 7,880 tailors, custom sewers, and dressmakers, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. T-shirts, in particular, are common, convenient, and most of all, easily customized garments, and are hugely popular. They have been worn for around 117 years, in fact two decades before the term was even entered into the Merriam-Webster dictionary. How, then, can T-shirts, hats, and more have a custom heat transfer job to become the ultimate personal expression?

Heat Press Machines

According to How to Heat Press, a heat press is one of several similar machines that use heat on garments, along with time and pressure, to apply new patterns and images to them. They can even be used on glass, wood, and metal, but T-shirts are the most common medium for their work. Some may use vinyl or inkjet methods for custom heat transfer work onto T-shirts.

A heat press, when activated, will have its upper plate, or platen, heat up to a pre-set temperature, and most models will have a digital display for inputting time and temperature parameters. A custom heat transfer job is convenient; often, only 10 to 20 seconds are needed, although these machines can be programmed for much higher press times for other work. A knob will adjust the pressure applied to the medium, and the temperature can be set anywhere between 0 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Any higher, and the garment may in fact become burnt or melt.

Hats, too, can be modified using a heat press, such as a knit beanie or a baseball cap. In this case, since hats may vary more than shirts in materials and temperature sensitivity, someone planning a custom heat transfer for a hat is encouraged to look up relevant information first, or else ask someone who works at a garment shop or at a custom garment company for their expert guidance. The same may be true for jeans or other pants. If the customer prefers, he or she can simply take the desired garments to a custom clothing shop and provide any other information or materials needed so a store employee can perform the heat transfer.

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