Sign & Digital Graphics

Start Here October '18

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S T A R T H E R E 2 0 1 8 HEAT TRANSFER 84 (Image courtesy STAHLS') The MAXI Large Format Heat Press Machine is a multipur- pose large-format manual heat transfer press intended for the imprinting of a vast range of different materials. Photo courtesy of Geo Knight. With its 13" x 13" platens and compact frame, the Insta 201 is the perfect small-format machine for use in the home. Photo courtesy of Insta Graphic Systems. Which size you need depends on what types of products you will be decorating. There are solely manual clamshells where the opera- tor must physically pull down the handle to activate the press and then release it and lift it up when the time is finished. A semi-automatic style is called an auto popup. Once the correct dwell time has expired, the top platen pops up, and the substrate is removed. The auto pop up eliminates the possibility of someone forgetting to release the top platen once the job is done and cooking the shirt. One of the newest innovations in clamshell heat presses is the availability of a heated bottom platen. Bottom platen heat allows for a lower application tem- perature on the top platen, which can reduce scorching on heat-sensitive fabrics like polyester and performance wear. It also helps melt adhesive from the bottom, reduc- ing production time. Manual swing away: The swing-away press is designed so that the upper platen can be moved to the side and away from the lower platen. This allows the operator to load the shirt and lay out the design without having a heated platen hovering over one's fingers. It does, however, require enough counter space to allow for the upper platen to be swung out. Swinger/draw: Another type of heat press combines the advantages of a swing away with a drawer-style press. The drawer is pulled out, the shirt is loaded, and then the drawer is pushed back in. Both the swing away and drawer platen avoid the issue of having a heated platen over the fingers. Air-operated swing away: For speeding up produc- tion and lessening the fatigue of the operator, there is an automated version of the manual swing-away heat press. So instead of having to physically move the upper platen away from the lower platen, a button activates a motor to move the platen back and forth between jobs. This type requires an air compressor for operation. Which Press is Right for You? When printing T-shirts for special events and custom jobs using screen-printed trans- fers, a clam shell press is ideal. It is the most portable of all machines and screen-printed transfers, which require minimal layout, can be pressed at a faster rate. For adding names and numbers to sports uniforms, you will want to go with a swing away or swing away/drawer. Letters and numbers take a little more time to position, and visibility of the layout space is key. You can take your time tweaking spacing and alignment without a hot platen hovering over your fingers. The swinger/drawer press is also ideal for sublimation transfers. A clamshell can sometimes create a pinch effect

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