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Quick links: UsageTroubleshootingMaintenance

Nickname Make Model Where Manual Issue Tracker Status
St Margaret ? ? Alcove ? Tool: Heat Press TBC

Class Orange Equipment Do not leave unattended

See full safety information below


This machine imprints a transfer usually on to a garment, such as a t-shirt. It works the same way as iron-on transfers, only it's a bit quicker and easier to use.

How it works

You design a logo or graphic and use it to create a transfer (for example, using our vinyl cutter). You then put the substrate (eg. t-shirt) on to the bed of the heat press, making sure it's as flat as possible. The transfer is then placed on top, facing downwards. In many cases, it is desirable to put a protective layer on top of the transfer, such as a teflon sheet, to prevent it from getting too hot or sticking to the top of the heat press if something goes wrong. Then, you close the heat press and wait until the transfer has been imprinted on the material below it - the amount of time taken usually depends on the type of transfer. The heat press is then opened, and after allowing it to cool, you should now have your design imprinted on the substrate.





Using the machine

Training required: Explain how/where/when to get it. (delete this block if not applicable)

To use this machine, you'll need to:

  • Follow safety precautions
  • Create a transfer
  • Apply the transfer

Let's get started...

Safety precautions

The heat press gets very hot in use, including along the outside edges, and it takes a long time to cool down - so take care for yourself and others who are in the workshop.

Class Orange Equipment

  • Workshop Safety
  • The hotplates on this machine are hotter than an iron, and could cause serious burns,
  • The machine must always be attended while on,
  • Ensure the area around and inside the machine is completely clear before turning on (marked area),
  • While it might seem that oven gloves would make this equipment safer, they will reduce dexterity and increase the chance of an injury occurring,
  • Do not use if the workshop is busy,
  • Always leave the machine open and turned off at the wall when not in use,
  • To preserve the hot plates, always use a non-stick sheet between each hot plates and material inside, one for the bottom and one for the top plate.

Step 1: Create a transfer

So far we've used the heat press with heat-transfer vinyl:

  • It may be feasible to cut by hand, but generally we've used the vinyl cutter
    • The blade force should be the same as for standard sign vinyl. Some thicker vinyls may need slightly higher pressure.
  • Heat transfer vinyl consists of a thin vinyl layer with a matte glue backing which is either clear or white. Unlike standard sign vinyl, the carrier sheet is on the front and is clear and glossy
    • There is a small amount of garment vinyl and some t-shirts left over from Make:Shift:Do. Please make a small donation if you use these (it's with the other vinyl - if you can't tell which is which then please ask)
  • You need to cut from the back of the vinyl (the matte glue side):
    • The image needs to be reversed before printing
    • In Inkscape, from the menu: Edit > Select All, then Object > Flip Horizontal
  • After cutting, remove unwanted vinyl using a scalpel or weeding tool, leaving the image on the carrier sheet

Wikipedia lists some alternative transfer materials: Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl, Inkjet Transfer Paper, Laser Transfer Paper, Plastisol Transfers, Sublimation (needs a dedicated printer and special sublimation inks).

Step 2: Apply the transfer

  • Decide where you want the transfer (eg. vinyl design) to go on the substrate (eg. t-shirt)
  • Switch on the heat press and set it to the correct temperature for the vinyl:
    • Different vinyls have different temperatures and times, follow the guidelines from the material manufacturer,
    • You can find some information here
    • Alternatively, test with a small piece of scrap vinyl
    • Using the wrong time/temperature can melt or scorch, so start with a lower temperature and work your way up if in doubt
  • Once the heat press has reached the required temperature, place the substrate on top of a non-stick sheet on the base plate, with the surface you want to apply the transfer to facing upwards
  • The, place the transfer on top of the substrate:
    • If using heat-transfer vinyl, this means with the glue side down
  • Now, cover with a non-stick sheet (woven or paper).
    • Make sure there are no creases anywhere in the four layers (non-stick sheet, substrate, transfer, non-stick sheet)
  • Close the heat press and wait for the required time (30–60 seconds):
    • The heat press has a timer, but it has not yet been tested so take care, and never leave the heat press unattended.
  • Open the heat press carefully as the top part can spring up
  • Take out the contents and carefully peel off the transfer carrier sheet
  • Switch off the heat press and wait to cool down - this can take a long time, stay with the press until it is safe to touch.

Hints & Tips

Some initial experimentation indicates that the heat press can be used to shape acrylic sheet around a surface:

Note: If you want to shape around a straight edge, use the StripHeater instead

  • Place a sheet of silicone paper, followed by the acrylic, on the base plate of the heat press
  • Cover with another sheet of silicone paper and close the heat press (only use the woven non-stick sheet if you want its texture imprinted on the acrylic)
  • Heat until the acrylic goes soft and rubbery (roughly 160°C; needs more experimentation)
  • Quickly remove the acrylic with oven gloves and bend round a buck/former
  • The thinner the sheet, the more quickly it will cool down, and the shorter the time you have to work
    • It can get extremely hot, especially thicker pieces
  • Switch off the heat press and wait to cool down - this can take a long time, stay with the press until it is safe to touch.

Minimising waste


If the advice below doesn't solve the problem, please create a new issue to let us know.


Using the Heatpress as a Laminator

It is possible to use the heatpress to laminate in the absence of a specific laminator.

As usual, use greaseproof paper to protect the press.

Laminating pouches are found in the stationery cupboard in Room 29. Place the sheet to be laminated in a pouch, and place horizontally on the press. Set the temperature to 100 degrees, and press for 60 seconds. Turn the sheet over, and press for a further 30 seconds on the reverse


  • If the machine is broken or needs maintenance, create an issue in the issue tracker (link in Troubleshooting above)
    • Label the issue: Tool: Heat Press as applicable
    • If broken, add Broken label (this triggers various systems to flag the machine unavailable)
    • If maintenance required, add Maintenance label (the machine is working, but needs TLC)
    • If parts or consumables need purchasing, add Shopping label
  • <where spare parts are stored?>
  • MDP supplies sell clothing vinyl and also cheap garments (remember to add VAT)

See also