A successful heat transfer is all about having the right time, temperature and pressure. Those are the three main factors which influence whether or not your heat transfer will adhere or peel. We’ll start by looking at those 3 main reasons why a heat press is better than an iron, before looking at 4 more important reasons.
Heat press machines have digital timers that are set before the press to get the exact time needed. Each manufacturer of vinyl specifies the right amount of time for their product.
Why is a heat press timer a good thing?
With the timer set, you can do something else while the press is counting down – set up the next t-shirt!
You don’t have to make a racket counting down (like I use to do!)… 15, 14, 13, 12…
You get the exact time right – it’s not that hard to count down from 20, but still, you’re always going to be a second or two off, right?
Most household irons can get to a temperature of around 400°F. This is hot enough for most, if not all, heat transfers. But the problem with irons is that you usually don’t know what temperature it’s set to.
Say, for example, your transfer requires a pressing temperature of 345°F – which would not be unusual. Well, can you actually set the temperature of your iron for that exact setting? No, unfortunately, you just have to turn it on and stick the dial to somewhere between cotton and linen.
Most heat press machines reach temperatures between 450-500°F. This is hot enough for any heat transfer that you are likely to do in the home. You can set the temperature and not worry about it!
The pressure is so important when applying transfers to t-shirts. It can mean the difference between a t-shirt lasting 6 months, or lasting many years. It means the difference between properly applied heat transfer vinyl, and peeling vinyl.
The level of pressure a transfer requires is specified by the manufacturer, just like the time and temperature. The pressure is usually measured from light or soft to hard or firm.
4. Steam Irons Have Holes
Steam irons have holes in the hot plate which will affect the pressure. When you are doing a heat transfer with a steam iron, the area under the steam holes is not being pressed down. Usually, you will end up pressing multiple times over an iron-on transfer which mitigates this to some extent.