Start Here November '21

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Page 21 of 102 17 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 "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, especially semi-automatic and air-auto- matic 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 excellent value for money," he believes. "They are simple and fun to manipulate for first-timers." But for shops that need something extra, like a large-format press or even a specialty press, there are other factors to consider. "Large format will require more power, be used for larger image areas, and is not necessarily the most efficient way to print very small areas, due to much longer loading times and heat platen idle times," Knight points out. "Your business model will dictate what type of press you need," Robinson adds. "Most people are fine purchasing the largest platen for a normal garment press, a 16" X 20" size. This size offers a lot of flexibility, allowing you to print oversize jerseys, jackets, team uniforms, and more." The same mindset applies to shops looking at cap or mug presses. "Most people will purchase a cap or mug press when their customers consistently ask them, 'Do you print caps/mugs,'" says Robinson. If there's a profitable market for caps, then it makes sense to purchase a cap press. Beyond the size and style conversation, maintenance also has a place in a shop's discussion. While heat presses are fairly simple when it comes to maintenance, the top priority is cleanliness. "Make sure the press is kept clean, especially the silicone padding and heat platen," emphasizes Knight. "Even the best machine can use a little grease now and then," adds Coëme. "Keep your machine clean and the pad safe from transfer inks and impact of sometimes harder substrates by using pad protectors." But when it comes down to it, Robinson has one simple piece of advice for those purchasing a heat press: "Always purchase the best quality press you can afford." There are so many ways a shop can use this equipment, and so many opportunities for expansion, that this makes perfect sense. "Ultimately demand will drive production," Coëme finishes. "Investments in these techniques can be high, but there are entry- level solutions for both, and well within the range of print shops who (are) considering an expansion." Print more than just T-shirts with your heat press. Learn more at "An explosion of large-format sublimation full-color printing onto textiles and metals has caused large-format heat presses to increase in popularity." — Aaron Knight, Geo Knight & Company Inc.

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