How Does A T-Shirt Heat Press Work

Placing brand new T-shirts between the platens, only for them to come out of the machine with burnt spots is a nightmare. This is the result of not understanding the procedure of your T-shirt press before you start using it.

As amazing as using a heat press for T-shirts is, there is a right procedure that consists of a couple of dos and don’ts. Every user needs to know that optimal results will only be obtained when they know how a T-shirt heat press works. Until then, you have to tolerate burnt shirts with scorched spots.

I speak for everyone when I say that nobody wants to see their projects go up in the flame. Therefore, I learned how a T-shirt heat press works to minimize the occurrence of such incidents. To save the users who are going through the same struggle, I have shared every piece of information regarding the procedure of a T-shirt heat press in the article below.

How Does A T-Shirt Heat Press Work?

To learn how your T-shirt heat press works, read the points listed below.

T-Shirt Heat Press

Before we dive into detail regarding the accurate procedure of a T-shirt heat press, let’s shed some light on what is a T-shirt heat press. A T-shirt heat press is not a specific machine made solely for T-shirts, but it is any model of heat press that comes with two platens between which the T-shirt is placed. This term is used to refer that the heat press is ideal for T-shirts, but you can also use the same machine for many other projects such as napkins, hoodies, blankets etc.

How Does It Work?

A T-shirt heat press comes bearing two platens, an upper platen and a lower platen. The T-shirt goes on the lower platen and is then covered by the upper platen. A T-shirt heat press also has a control box present at the top of the platen, which has buttons to alter the time and temperature of each press. There is a screen that displays both of the settings. The user needs to turn the machine on and adjust the temperature and time before placing the T-shirt in the heat press.

Once the platens are heated enough, they can add their project between them. With the pressure knob, the pressure of the platen can be adjusted so that every corner of the platen applies the same amount of pressure on the project. The heat from the platens forces the ink of the sublimated image to transfer from the paper to the T-shirt. Furthermore, the high pressure ensures that the design transfers smoothly on the garment. When the time of the press is up, the timer beeps to indicate the shirt can be removed.

What To Look Out For?

The first thing that you need to look out for while using a T-shirt heat press is to use protective sheets. Always cover the T-shirt with a Teflon sheet or parchment paper before lowering the upper platen on it. Another thing to keep in mind is to adjust the time and temperature according to the material of the shirt. Every material has different heat tolerance, cotton T-shirts can be heat pressed for longer than 10 minutes at 380°F.  On the other hand, a polyester shirt can not take temperatures higher than 270°F. Therefore, it is critical for you to know the material of your shirt, and then adjust the setting according to its requirements. In addition to that, a T-shirt heat press should not be left unattended for longer periods when it is turned on. Another thing to keep in mind is to not have open hair around the machine, as any stray hair can get trapped between the platens and leave a burn mark. Lastly, make sure to remove your T-shirts from the heat press once the pre-set time is up.

Benefits And Limitations Of T-Shirt Heat Press

The major benefit of a T-shirt heat press is that it can be used for other projects too that involve flat surfaces. The users can use the machine for heat pressing their mouse pads, blankets and many other projects. However, the usage is only limited to flat surfaces. Another limitation of a T-shirt heat press is that the user needs to cut the project out precisely. Otherwise, they will transfer unwanted parts along with the image which can not be removed easily from the garment.


Unless you know how a T-shirt heat press works, there is a high chance that you might make a mistake that will cost you your project. If you are tired of that happening, then turn the machine off and first learn how it works properly. Lucky for you, the article above states the entire procedure of the machine along with a few precautionary steps that will help you minimize accidents.