Start Here November '21

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16 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 larity," Knight states. He adds that presses can accommodate more and more substrates with features like increased 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 synthetic fabrics," he speci- fies. 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 pur- chase, research is at the top of the to-do list before making a move. "Shops should look beyond their immediate needs and consider future expansion and demand," Coëme suggests. "A press that does simple transfers now may need to be more ver- satile 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 have their own benefits. Investing in a specialty press such as a hat press is a great option if your customers consistently ask for caps and hats. (Image courtesy Stahls' Hotronix) Keep the pad safe from transfer inks and the impact of harder substrates by using pad protectors. (Image courtesy HIX) (Image courtesy Geo Knight & Co. Inc.) Clamshell Versus Swing-Away By Ben Robinson, Stahls' Hotronix With so many heat presses on the market, it's hard to choose the right starter press for your new or expanding business. Do your research and determine which features and benefits will help maximize your investment. The first ques- tion: "Should I choose a clamshell or swing- away type/design heat press?" CLAMSHELL The type of heat press you choose is largely based off the size of your business, personal preference, and workspace. Let's dive into the positives and negatives of most clamshell heat presses: PROS: More portable frame and build Fewer moving parts Lower price tag Compact size for more table space Easy to use CONS: Users have to work directly under the heat Reduced layout area for apparel decoration SWING-AWAY Next, we'll look at swing-away heat press machines. These types of presses offer a few extra features and functionalities, so it's smart to look at the pros and cons for these presses as well: PROS: Full layout and work area Heat-free working space Easier to achieve even and level pressure Works well with thicker garments CONS: Requires more space to fully use swing-away function Not as portable due to it being heavier than a clamshell

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