Types of Heat Press Machines and Comparison

You are here because either you have decided to enter into the printing business and are currently looking out for your very first heat press or you are looking to replace your old heat press. Whatever may be the case it’s quite confusing that whether to go for the Clamshell type or the Swing away type or the improved draw type, as each one of them has their pros and cons. Well, guess what? Today is your lucky day as we are going compare all of these models based on all their features and provide you a much clear idea about each one of them.

Different types of Heat Press Machines

These are the most popular models available in the market today. Before we go into further more discussion lets us try to understand each of the models and then we can compare them.

The clamshell heat press:

This kind of heat press is similar in design to the shell of a clam, here the top platen opens up, and then the application design and the substrate is placed on the bottom platen. The top platen is then closed, and appropriate temperature and pressure are These machines offer single step operation and better application time. The clamshell heat presses are portable, requires a less operational workspace, are highly reliable and require the least effort while working. The clamshell models are ideal for beginners to start with.


  • Suitable for beginners as operation is very much simple and easy to use
  • No multi-step process thus its quite time efficient
  • Because of the top rising (vertical angle) design, it requires less space
  • It is quite portable and thus is easier to take at events where you need to show live demo
  • Perfect for producing bulk order in smaller time frame
  • With additional force, you can apply additional pressure


  • Not suitable for thicker fabrics such as mats and all
  • You have to be attentive while working or else you can get your hands burnt
  • Offers less precision when compared to swing away models
  • At times creates uneven pressure when thicker substrates are used because of its closing action
  • Provides a limited view of the layout, so you have to be extra careful

The swing away heat press:

This kind of t-shirt heat presses are also known as a swinger, here the top heating platen swings away from the lower platen to the sideways after lifting away. This sideways swinging action gives you full access to the lower Thus it becomes quite easy to arrange your design and substrate. This design requires a larger workspace, but it offers you the safety for working under the heated platen. This design provides a greater precision and even pressure during operation.


  • Offers higher degree accuracy as compared to clamshell model
  • On this type of machine, it is much easier to set up your design and substrate for printing here
  • The pressure distribution for such presses are even on entire platen
  • You get a full view of the layout area
  • Offers much safer working environment as you don’t have to work under heated platen
  • It is quite suitable for printing on thicker fabric such as hoodies and all


  • The printing is a multi-step process thus requires much more time
  • Because of its swing away design it requires nearly twice as much space as compared to regular clamshell models
  • It is a bit complex to work with especially for beginners
  • When it comes to pricing, it is slightly on the higher side

The Draw Heat Press Machine

If you belong to the group of people who like some of the features of the clamshell and simultaneously quite a few from the swing away model, then there is a particular Draw type heat press for you. This press opens and closes like a clamshell, but the lower platen comes out towards the operator just like a drawer. The substrate and designs are laid on the lower non-heating plate and lets you see the garment area. It also keeps you away from the heating platen and provides a safer working environment. It is ideal for printing bulk if the automated model is being considered.


  • No multi-step process thus its quite time efficient
  • Gives plenty of working space to work along with space-saving design
  • The heat and pressure distribution for such presses are even on entire platen
  • Provides you with much safer working environment
  • It is portable and much time efficient


  • These machines are quite a bit costly thus you need to make sure that you need them
  • Not suitable for thicker fabrics such as mats and all
  • Not an ideal choice if you use intricate materials that require a stationary workspace
  • This type of press will take up much more space while operating as compared to standing still

Clamshell vs Swingaway Heat Press vs Draw: head to head

You may be confused which machine to choose?

Clamshell vs swing away heat press or Swingaway Heat Press vs Draw or Clamshell Heat Press vs Draw?

Now that you know, what these machines are like, how they work and what features they offer its time to see how to go against each other in different aspects.

  1. Initial cost: lets us be blunt on this one, as the budget becomes the deciding factor while making the purchase. Clamshell models are quite cheaper as compared to swing away and draw heat presses. If you want to start a printing business better go for a clamshell design.
  2. Durability: Believe it or not when you are looking for a heat press that can last long and can deliver quality prints, clamshell should be your first choice.
  3. Precision: When you are going to print numbers, letters or rhinestones on T-shirts then high accuracy and better print quality are required and swing away heat presses deliver both of the features mentioned above.
  4. Substrate range: If you are looking to buy a press which is capable of printing on a large number of the substrate of various thickness, then go for the Swingaway models. These presses can deliver amazing prints on glass, wood, licenses plates and many other things.
  5. Workspace: If the workspace is not an issue for you, go for the Swingaway or draw model else clamshell models are best for businesses that don’t have an ample
  6. Thread-ability: It refers to the ability of machine that how quickly an item can be unloaded and reloaded again. Clamshell takes this department as it has a single step printing process.
  7. Safety while working: When it comes to the safety of the user, while working on the press, the swing away and draw type are in consideration as the heating has nothing to do with the lower working plate. This avoids any chances of accidental burns.
  8. Others: If budget and space constraints do not limit you-you can easily go for the draw type heat presses as they offer qualities of both the machines. But only lack in the range of substrate to print

Final Verdict

Well, as seen above there is no definite winner in the battle of these heat presses if one lag in a department then it has something more in other. So, it finally comes to your preference what you like.

To make a better a choice, you can find out the answer to the following questions and then decide what model is more suitable for you.

  • How much space is available in your workplace?
  • What is your budget?
  • Which machine can you work on easily for long stretches?
  • What quality of printing do you require?

By now you would have developed a clear idea that which model should you go with. If still there is doubt try to ask advice from the peoples who are there in this business. You will for sure find your press.

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