• Last updatedLast updated: Sep 21, 2020

5 Best Hat Heat Press Machines to Work on Small and Curved Surfaces

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You may be surprised, but a lot more people fail at selecting the best hat heat press for purchase than you would think. If you go into the buying process all willy-nilly, you may end up joining their ranks. So what is the alternative?

The tried, tested, and proven course of action is to gather so much information on the devices that selecting the wrong model becomes impossible. As a matter of diligence, you as well need to review each product in comparison to the competition. To do this, you need to be aware of the main features, including platen size, voltage, warranty, and finally, the time and temperature range. You can also add extra features you encounter that may give certain presses an advantage over others. The more information you gather, the more the best hat heat press for your needs stands out. Keep reading for some excellent purchase options as well as all information you would need to make a final selection.
Editor’s Choice

A cap heat press with 3/8″ silicone rubber bottom pad ideal for hats, personalized bags, headbands, and more

  • 5″ x 6″ platen
  • digital controls
  • 200°F – 400°F
Read Our Review
9.7
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Premium Pick

A clamshell heat press with the magnetic assist lockdown feature

  • auto open technology
  • Under-the-Center pressure adjustment
Read Our Review
9.6
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Best Budget Hat Heat Press

A small portable heat press with a wide array of image transfer temperatures

  • 6” x 7” platen
  • insulated resting base
  • auto-shutoff
Read Our Review
9.3
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Best Value

A clamshell heat press with a superior temperature range to all other options

  • temperature up to 750°F
  • coated handles with ergonomic foam-grip
  • aluminum heating element
Read Our Review
9.2
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Best Commercial Hat Heat Press

A clamshell heat press that is ideal for a commercial use thanks to the availability of various size platens

  • 7” x 3 ¾” platen
  • live digital time and temperature
  • over-the-center pressure adjustment
Read Our Review
9.1
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.

Top 5 Hat Heat Press Machines Review 2020

1.

Hotronix Maxx Digital Cap Heat PressEditor’s Choice

Features
  • Platen size: 3.5″ x 6″
  • Temperature: 200°F – 400°F
  • Time: n/a
  • Voltage: 120V
  • Warranty: lifetime (heating element), 1 year (parts)

Other features: digital controls, cast-in tubular heating element, 3 /4″ thick upper platen, 3/8″ silicone rubber bottom pad

It may seem that these devices are for exclusive use with hats and caps. However, this is a wrong assumption as there are a few other substrates that could work with the device. Among them are monogrammed placemats, personalized bags, headbands, and more. Once you realize this, you may not find it so hard to spend more than $700 to acquire this machine.

That being said, the tool is entirely capable of giving a return on investment while only printing caps and hats. The 3/8″ silicone rubber bottom pad is ideal for hats and other substrates that you want to imprint on.

It should be noted that a hold-down component is included in the machine. Remember that creases on the substrates can lead to a ruined print. This feature will help prevent that by smoothing out the cap’s surface and holding it down until the process is done.

The coated non-stick heating surface is also an essential feature of the workings of the tool. You should know that under the surface of this platen is a cast-in tubular heating element. With its optimal placement, the surface of the platen heats evenly, thereby eliminating any cold spots.

For some, the platen size may not fit their needs. Worry not as you can purchase additional platens to help you print different-sized hats, caps, and more. Also, a digital time and temperature display is provided. Control over the most intricate details is thus guaranteed.

The manufacturer has recommended that you use a dedicated circuit breaker with this purchase. In addition to this protection measure, it comes with a one-year warranty for most parts. The exception is the heating element with a lifetime guarantee.

Pros
  • Optional platens available for different cap needs
  • Lifetime warranty for the heating element
  • Precise control over time and temperature
  • Even heating
  • Versatile
Cons
  • You need to account for a dedicated circuit breaker in your purchase
2.

Hotronix Cap Heat PressPremium Pick

Features
  • Platen size: 3.5″ x 6″
  • Temperature: n/a
  • Time: n/a
  • Voltage: 120V
  • Warranty: lifetime (heating element), 5 years (framework), 1 year (parts), 2 years (electronics)

Other features: clamshell design, magnetic assist lockdown, auto open technology, Twin Timer™, Under-the-Center pressure adjustment

A second, more expensive, Hotronix device also makes it onto this list. The platen size is similar to that of the Hotronix Maxx Digital Cap Heat Press. With the tool’s clamshell design, you should have an easy time mounting your caps on the device. Once installed, you can use the temperature and time display to set the parameters before printing.

You as well need a design that you prepared beforehand. Imprinting new designs on various small substrates becomes a walk in the park when you own this tool.

Most users will say that using this tool is not as tiring as using competing offerings. You have the magnetic assist lockdown feature to thank for that since the user doesn’t need to do much to ensure the hat is locked in place.

Some potential users may choose the Hotronix Cap Heat Press since it allows them to set timers. Because the tool also comes with auto-open technology, you may not need to be there after the machine is done with its work.

The Under-the-Center Pressure Adjustment is another shared feature with the editor’s choice. Used correctly, it can ensure even images on whatever small substrate you choose.

Also, this tool requires that you include a dedicated circuit breaker in the installation. However, some might feel that the warranty adds a little more value. Nevertheless, different parts of the tool are covered for different durations.

Pros
  • Impressive warranty
  • Has features to reduce user fatigue
  • Under-the-Center Pressure Adjustment ensures even printing
  • Auto-open technology
Cons
  • You need a dedicated circuit breaker for installation
3.

Cricut EasyPress 2Best Budget Hat Heat Press

Features
  • Platen size: 6” x 7”
  • Temperature: up to 400°F
  • Time: 60 seconds or less
  • Voltage: 120V
  • Warranty: 2 years

Other features: two heating elements, ceramic-coated heat plate, an insulated resting base, and auto-shutoff

You may think that a limited budget is the one thing stopping you from owning a vinyl hat heat press. The Cricut EasyPress 2 is here to disprove that notion.

Admittedly the tool doesn’t have the same basic design that all the other machines listed have. However, this may be due to the target market where the device is preferable for residential users.

As it is rated at 120V, it is likely compatible with sockets in your home, especially if you are in North America. Also, as compared to other hat heat press options, the platen is quite large. However, you have to realize that this platen is flat, unlike the curved options of the competitors.

To the Cricut EasyPress 2’s credit, the temperature of the platen can rise to 400°F, which means you have a wide array of image transfer temperatures. It is, therefore, up to you to choose the right heat settings and ensure the print sticks.

Additionally, you are allowed a maximum of one minute of use before the auto-shutoff feature kicks in. After printing, always make use of the insulated resting base of the tool so that you don’t end up burning anything with the hot platen.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Includes an auto-off feature
  • A resting base is included in the package for cooling
  • The tool offers excellent temperature control
Cons
  • It may be a bit harder to work around the curves of a hat or cap
  • It does not have the capacity for a commercial operation
4.

VEVOR Heat PressBest Value

Features
  • Platen size: 6” x 3”, 5.5” x 3.5” (curved element)
  • Temperature: up to 750°F
  • Time: 0-999 seconds
  • Voltage: 110V
  • Warranty: n/a

Other features: clamshell design, coated handles with ergonomic foam-grip, steel frame, aluminum heating element

Since it maxes out at 750°F, this tool brings about a superior temperature range to all our other options. It also comes with two curved elements for use in different cap printing scenarios. For some, this makes the tool a frontrunner in their list of purchase options.

If you take a closer look at the material construction of the heat press, you’ll get the impression that it is meant to be a long term investment. After all, you do have the primary materials being steel and aluminum.

There is also a bit of consideration for the user where you note the ergonomic grip of the tool. You should be able to open as well as close the vinyl heat press without much difficulty.

Additionally, the image above shows how the tool will arrive. Assembly is not required; hence all you’ll need to do is plug and use. The instructions for use are provided with the purchase. So long as you pay close attention to these instructions finding the right buttons to press should be a walk in the park.

Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Two curved elements are included in the purchase
  • Offers quite the impressive temperature range
Cons
  • You may find that some hats don’t fit on the device
5.

Siser Digital Cap Heat PressBest Commercial Hat Heat Press

Features
  • Platen size: 7” x 3 ¾”
  • Temperature: 205°F – 430°F
  • Time: n/a
  • Voltage: 120V, 240V
  • Warranty: 1 year

Other features: live digital time and temperature, over-the-center pressure adjustment

You may know Siser from their manufacture of flat heat press machines. However, they also have a hat heat press that would do wonders for your printing shop. Remember that cap and hat printing could boost your revenues and help you take advantage of an underappreciated market.

When you take on your first project, you will realize that the device opens quite wide. This is intentional so that you can have a much easier time placing the small substrate on the platen provided.

Once the substrate is optimally placed and the transfer paper positioned on top, it is time to bring down the heating element. You as well have the over-the-center pressure adjustment. Thanks to this, you end up with clean print results on the cap. Of course, you need to have the right knowhow to pull this off.

Non-stick coating is as well provided with the upper heating element. This ensures you can detach the hat and transfer paper with relative ease after printing. Also, what makes this tool ideal for a commercial printing press is the availability of various size platens that you may need to cough up extra funds to get.

Pros
  • Optional accessories are available
  • Incorporates a non-stick platen
  • Over-the-center pressure adjustment for even printing
  • The live digital time and temperature display offers precise control
Cons
  • You will likely need to purchase extra platens which raises the cost of owning the machine

Buying Guide

One person may want to buy a hat heat press to customize their caps, headbands, and other small textile substrates. The other may want such a tool for their heat printing business. If they end up buying the same product, at least one of them has made the wrong purchase.
The buying guide below is there, so you never find yourself making the wrong buying choice where cap heat press machines are concerned.

How does a heat press work?

A heat press machine works in conjunction with transfer paper and ink designed for the process. The ink in question is embedded in the substrates you decide to use. In the case of this write-up, the most common substrates will be hats and caps.

After printing your design on the transfer paper, you may start preheating the device. Later, you place the transfer paper on the hat and press the heating element onto the transfer paper. The duration for you to hold this position will vary from substrate to substrate. Another factor that may affect the time requirements is the temperature of the platen.

As this is going on, the ink on the transfer paper will be transferred to the substrate. The last step is to lift the platen and remove the substrate with the imprinted design.

Benefits of hat heat press machines

5 Best Hat Heat Press Machines to Work on Small and Curved Surfaces

Standard heat press machines do come with several benefits. Among them are the facts that they produce finished products relatively quickly, easily, and you can make custom designs. They are also ideal for small orders and offer excellent value for your dollar.

Hat heat press machines share a lot of these benefits. However, they have the additional advantage of being able to work with curved surfaces such as those in caps. You can also use them on small substrates such as bags, doll t-shirts, and more.

Things to consider when choosing a heat press for hats

As we already mentioned, a lot of people do get their hat heat press purchases wrong. However, a keen eye to detail should help you avoid falling for marketing traps and purchasing something that won’t work for you. Use the information we have provided below to ensure the machine you pick is the right one for your needs.

Style

A lot of people seem to prefer swing-away heat presses since they allow users space to work without getting burned. You can achieve a similar result with a clamshell-style design as well. However, you need to be a lot more careful in the handling of the machine when hot.

As the name suggests, the clamshell device opens up vertically. The swing-away option allows you to move the heating element away to the side. This allows you more space to position the substrate.

Some may also say that the draw press is superior to the clamshell design as well. With this style of machine, you can pull out the bottom platen from under the heating element. Of course, you are less likely to touch the hot heating element this way.

Except for the Cricut EasyPress 2, all other hat heat press devices listed feature the clamshell design.

Platen size

The platen size, just as with standard heat press machines, dictates the size of the substrates to be printed. If you are planning to print on bigger hats, go with a bigger platen. Likewise, for smaller caps, a smaller platen is ideal.

Temperature

5 Best Hat Heat Press Machines to Work on Small and Curved Surfaces

Temperature can affect how long you need to wait before the print is ready. A higher temperature is generally associated with faster printing. You have to consider the material of the substrate when you crank up the temperature, so you don’t end up burning it. After all, different fabrics have varying heat resistance levels.

Often you will find that the temperature range varies from model to model of the hat heat press machines. On the list, the VEVOR Heat Press can reach up to 750°F and hence may be considered superior to a competitor like the Cricut EasyPress 2. The latter maxes out at 400°F; thus, the temperature range is more limited.

Time range

This, in conjunction with the temperature range, affect how easy it is for users to imprint their designs on the hats and more. Let’s take the example of a design and substrate that needs about two minutes for the printing process to be complete. A device like the Cricut EasyPress 2 would be more problematic to use since it has a one-minute cap on usage.

Elsewhere, tools like the VEVOR Heat Press don’t have such limitations as it can stay on up to the 999-second mark.

Voltage

Ideally, you receive the product, plug it into a socket, and turn it on. This might not be so easy if you purchase a tool that is not rated the same in terms of voltage as your sockets. In some cases, different voltage levels may lead to damage to the machine or prevent it from starting at all.

Remember that voltage in most North American houses is about 120V. Devices like the Hotronix Maxx Digital Cap Heat Press will most likely be compatible with such households.

Coating

A critical selling point for the Siser Digital Cap Heat Press is the non-stick coating on the heating element. This means that after printing, users will easily be able to detach the transfer paper and, by extension, the substrate from the element. This is crucial in ensuring that nothing gets burned.

Force and pressure

Under-the-Center Pressure Adjustment is one of the features that has been touted as a significant benefit of purchasing the Hotronix Cap Heat Press. This is because the force and pressure is evenly distributed to cater to the needs of the print.

An expected benefit of such a feature is that there are no creases during the printing process. As such, the print is guaranteed to be flawless once it is done. In devices like the Cricut EasyPress 2, you will have to produce the pressure manually. As such, mistakes are more likely to be made, and that can lead to a ruined printing result.

Warranty

If you have the funds, try and protect your investment by going for the vinyl hat heat press with the most extended guarantee. This insures you from losing your investment for quite a while after the purchase. Of course, you will have to be diligent as well to ensure no damage befalls your device.

Safety features

You also cannot forget that this device gets hot and that burns are likely as a result. However, some manufacturers remember to put your safety first and include a few safety features to prevent accidents from happening. Looking out for such safety features in your purchase is looking out for yourself as well.

FAQ

Both of these devices are the same in design. The difference comes mostly in the size and shape of the platen. For the hat heat press machines, the manufacturer has to account for the size and shape of hats hence why these tools often have small and curved platens.

Hat heat presses fall in the same category as conventional heat press machines in their use of power. They will often require a 120V socket and will use between 8.5-14.5 amps of power.

If any ink gets onto the heating element while you are printing, you should remove it while it is still hot. A piece of cloth is ideal, and as you wipe the ink off, take care not to burn your hands and fingers.

Also, lubricate the joints of the device to prevent friction. The last step in maintenance is to check the rubber pads on your device for wear and tear and replace them accordingly.

Our Verdict

Just as the list above depicts, our top three hat heat press machines are the Hotronix Maxx Digital Cap Heat Press, Hotronix Cap Heat Press, and the Cricut EasyPress 2.

If you are planning to use your hat heat press for business, the Hotronix Maxx Digital Cap Heat Press would be an excellent pick. It is relatively expensive. However, you are guaranteed excellent printing results every time you use the device. Its construction also allows for a heavy workload.

Almost the same thing can be said of the Hotronix Cap Heat Press. The under-the-center pressure adjustment ensures no creases in the hats placed on the device for clean prints. Also, the warranty is a notch better than the one provided for its predecessor.

If you don’t plan on hat printing a lot, the other four devices listed above seem like overkill. A tool like the Cricut EasyPress 2 will get the job done so long as you are skilled in heat press printing. The purchase is as well unlikely to hurt your pockets.

Even if the other two devices on the list are not mentioned here, they are excellent options as well. They may also be precisely what you are looking for, so do not discount them before taking into account their disadvantages and advantages.

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