Putting Your Heat Press in the Spotlight

August 31, 2022

The landscape of how we do business has been drastically altered. Events like concerts and corporate gatherings are beginning to return and are sure to revive the larger bulk orders to some degree, but the smaller quantity on-demand business is now a part of the core business for many.

Heat Press Products
Elevated styles of heat press products, courtesy of Stahls’ and Flexsystems.
This poses an interesting dilemma: do you accommodate smaller run orders without slowing down or tie up equipment needed for larger runs?

Is it time to consider your heat press station a full-time operation, like your screen printing and embroidery equipment? If you’ve been paying attention to decorated samples in the market, the latest trending topics and even this blog you are no doubt aware that heat transfer products have taken the spotlight.

Once considered a necessary evil, the heat press was often placed in a corner of the shop to press on individual names and numbers. This is not the case anymore, as the quality of adhesives and materials has seen dramatic improvements in recent years. With new technology like Direct to Film (DTF) also emerging, now may be be the right time to consider your heat press as its very own profit center.

Heat pressing satisfies the need in many cases for an on-demand business, sure to be a prominent fixture well into the future. The advantages of heat pressing are obvious when you look for them — unlike screen printing there is no lengthy setup of screens or cleanup. Compared to embroidery, there is no need to tie up a multi-head machine while running a single piece, and a heat press also creates an additional revenue stream when all embroidery heads are sewing.

Heat Press Applications

Back to the on-demand scenario, those small orders can easily be accomplished using a heat press. With some of the latest styles like faux leather patches and dimensional emblems, you can create low runs that have a very retail look. These high-end transfer styles command higher perceived values, increasing your margin and keeping other production equipment free for larger runs.

Heat Press Layout
Heat Press workstation layout.
Photo credit: McKenzie SewON
Adding heat presses can be done quickly and with minimal capital investment compared to other equipment needs. In most cases an entire heat press station can be well equipped and added for under $5000 and are widely available, unlike larger equipment that takes 3 to 6 months for delivery and sometimes longer.

Another advantage over the big investment equipment is labor and training. An inexperienced heat press operator can become familiar with equipment in a matter of minutes and proficient in just a few days. This gives you a new employee producing quality work far sooner than a novice screen printer or embroiderer.

When it’s time to evaluate how your shop is adapting to the changing needs of the promotional apparel industry, be sure to take a closer look at that lonely heat press station and consider giving it some time in the spotlight.