August '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 A U G U S T G R A P H I C S P R O 3 1 made it easier to achieve repeatable results." On the size side of the equation, there are also some emerging trends and changes hap- pening. "An explosion of large-format subli- mation full-color printing onto textiles and metals has caused large-format heat presses to increase in popularity," Knight states. He adds that presses can accommodate more and more substrates with features like in- creased interchangeability, bottom heat, and specialty platens. Ben Robinson, Stahls' Hotronix, expands on the platen topic. "Heated lower platens … are designed to reduce the risk of scorch marks on heat-sensitive polyester or syn- thetic fabrics," he specifies. On challenging garments such as polyester, this feature also reduces the risk of dye migration. He also draws attention to the threadability feature. "The threadable platen design allows you to drop seams, zipper fronts, and button areas off the press, providing a smooth, even print surface," he notes. "This feature cuts down on the need for additional accessories such as pillows or pads." BEST FOR BUSINESS All of these features should be on the radar of any graphics shop looking to invest in a heat press. Like any equipment purchase, research is at the top of the to-do list before making a move. "Shops should look beyond their im- mediate needs and consider future expansion and demand," Coëme suggests. "A press that does simple transfers now may need to be more versatile tomorrow." One place to start is educating yourself on the types available and what your shop plans to decorate, both now and in the future. Knight lists clamshell, swing-away, automatic swing-away, and large format as some of the basic models currently available. Each has its own benefits. "Swing-away presses lend themselves more to time-consuming projects like sublimation on garments and on firmer substrates," says Coëme. "Clamshell presses provide a smaller footprint and greater production speed, es- pecially semi-automatic and air-automatic presses." For the hobby or home-based business, where certain constraints apply, Coëme also has a few suggestions. "Analog presses are easier on a start-up budget and provide ex- cellent value for money," he believes. "They are simple and fun to manipulate for first- timers." HOT GRAPHICS REPORT

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