Erin is a writer, crafter, and homeschooling mother of four based in rural Missouri. On her blog, My Very Educated Mother, she shares projects, crafts, recipes, activities, and household tips aimed at encouraging her readers to foster creativity in their lives and homes.
The other co-owner of Crafty Hangouts, Carolina also blogs at 30 Minute Crafts, Always Expect Moore, and CraftSnark. As a wife and mother of 2 young boys, she spends her time away from the computer sewing, crafting, coloring, playing games with her kids, and doing the occasional load of laundry.
You might think that making quality t-shirts is beyond your abilities, but you would be wrong. As long as you have the best t-shirt printing machine, you can make awesome shirts to promote your business or show off your cool designs quickly and easily.
You first need to decide what type of printing process you want to use. You can choose from direct printing (an expensive but effective way), heat press (the most popular and affordable) and screen printing (cheap but the process will fascinate you). For each of these methods you’ll find a suitable model on the list. You also have to figure out the correct plate size that you need for your shirts. Luckily, our listed products are diverse in this regard. To find out which exactly machine will make the shirts of your dreams, read on!
If you are in the market for the best overall t-shirt printing machine, then we highly recommend that you check out this model. This heat press has everything that you need to make high-quality t-shirts and more. For starts, it is very easy to adjust the pressure, temperature, and time with this machine, which is all essential to getting a good heat transfer. The plate size is also quite large, which will allow you to make bigger designs on your shirt.
Something else that really helps to set this model apart from its competitors is that it can be used for multiple applications. It is designed to be functional in five different ways, which include shirts, mugs, bags, hats, and plates. This versatility makes it a perfect choice for anyone that is looking to expand beyond making t-shirts to promote their business or as a business on its own.
The reason that this machine is able to produce so many different items is thanks to all of the attachments that come with it. You can also rotate the machine to apply the heat in different configurations. This versatility makes using this machine quite simple.
The only real drawback of this machine is that it doesn’t come with any sort of manual. If you are new to the heating press world, then you might have a tough time figuring out how to use it effectively. Thankfully, with a little bit of practice and troubleshooting, you should be able to get it to work for you so that you can make lots of different products for your customers.
Lots of folks think that in order to have a good heat press, then you need to have a big machine in your shop. That is not only impractical for lots of stores, but also not true. This machine, for instance, is extremely compact. It will barely fill up any more room than a standard computer, which makes it an awesome option for anyone that doesn’t want to take up a ton of room with their printing machine.
Despite the fact that this machine is compact, it is still capable of reaching higher temperatures. It can heat up to its full temperature in about 3 minutes, which is quite fast for such a small model. It has a maximum temperature of 400 degrees, which makes it possible to utilize any heat transfer process, including sublimation. It also can be set to any time, making it quite easy to get high-quality prints each and every time.
The plates for this machine are made to be completely nonstick as well. This design choice makes it simple to get your shirt and print out without any issue. This results in high-quality prints, as long as you get the temperature, pressure, and time correct when you set it up.
The only thing that you need to keep in mind with this model is that it is quite compact. While this can be seen as a benefit, it can also be detrimental to your printing process. With this machine, you will not be able to create larger prints, which will severely limit the designs that you can utilize on your t-shirts.
Something that a lot of people believe, unfortunately, is that when it comes to getting a quality t-shirt printing machine, you need to pay a lot of money. This is, thankfully, not the case, especially if you decide to purchase this model. This heat press style t-shirt printer is reasonably priced but very effective. It has one of the largest plates available on the market, which makes it much easier to put larger designs on a wide variety of t-shirt sizes. These plates are coated in Teflon, which makes them completely nonstick and easy to utilize effectively.
Even though this is a cheaper model, it is still capable of heating up to higher temperatures, which makes it easier to use any style of heat press printing you prefer. In fact, this particular machine can reach all the way up to 455 degrees, which is the highest maximum temperature on our list. The timer can also be used for a good long time, which makes it very easy to keep track of how long you have your shirt pressed.
The only drawback to this machine is that the temperature readouts aren’t always completely accurate. They tend to either be a bit too hot or too cool, usually within 5-10 degrees or so. With a bit of practice, however, you should be able to figure out how the machine is running and should still be able to utilize it effectively without too many issues. While this isn’t the end of the world, it is certainly something to keep in mind before you make your final purchase.
While screen printers and heat presses are great for making large amounts of simple designs, they are not very effective at making more intricate works or anything full of lots of color. This machine, on the other hand, is quite good at making very vivid images, even if they contain tons of color. That is because it relies on DTG technology to print out whatever you design you have in mind onto your shirt to your exact specifications.
While this might seem like a more intimidating process, especially if you are used to using another type of machine, you have nothing to worry about if you choose this model, it is extremely simple to use. All you need to do is load your design and load your shirt, and let the machine do the work. The hardest part is making sure that you have the shirt centered properly, and that isn’t difficult at all.
As you would expect with such an advanced machine, this model has a very large plate size. You can pretty much make any design on any size shirt that you want with this machine, as long as you have the time to let it do its work.
The amount of time that this machine requires to print a shirt is much longer than any other machine on the market. While most heat presses take a minute or so to make a design, this model requires several minutes. That is to be understood since it is making very intricate designs. However, this does slow the process, so if you are looking to make a ton of shirts in a short amount of time, this might not work out for you.
While DTG and heat press machines will work better for more intricate designs, they take a long time to mass produce shirts. If you have simple designs that you want to make a ton of, then you have got to for a screen printing machine like this one. This model is made for speed. It has two different paddles that can be fully rotated so that you can keep the printing process rolling. With this model, you can easily make hundreds of shirts in a few short hours, making it a great option for festivals or special occasions.
This model is designed to be utilized with multiple size shirts as well, which truly makes it a great model for mass production. The plates are nice and big, which makes positioning even larger shirts very quick and easy.
Of course, the downside for a setup like this is that it is going to take up a lot of room. Since this machine has two different paddles that need to be able to rotate, it can make it quite difficult to fit in a smaller space.
Thankfully, this machine is quite lightweight. This makes it very easy to move from place to place when the machine is not in use so that it stays out of the way. The machine can also be collapsed a bit fore easier storage, which is a big help to keep the machine from always being in the way in a smaller shop.
Easy setup for multiple prints
Large plate size
Needs some skill
In this section, we will guide you through everything you need to know to find the best t-shirt printing machine for your needs. We have also taken the time to answer several frequently asked questions, so be sure to read through those as well if you need any further information.
Features to consider when choosing a T-shirt making machine
As you can imagine, there are lots of things to consider before you buy a new t-shirt making machine. In this section, we will go through all of these factors in detail, so that you can make an informed decision as to which model will work best for your needs.
Technology it uses to transfer the image
The first thing that you need to decide upon when it comes to your new t-shirt making machine is the type of technology you want to employ. There are three different types to choose from, which include the following:
Direct Printing (DTG) – Direct printing or Direct to Garment (DTG) printing is the best way to make intricate and multi-color designs on your t-shirts. There is absolutely no limit to what you can make with a machine like the Refretonic MT-TA3. They do, however, cost a lot upfront and also take a much longer time to print each shirt. If you are looking to make a ton of shirts in a short amount of time, then this might not be the right kind of printer.
Screen Printing – If you are looking to make simple designs and want to make a lot of t-shirts at once, then you might want to get a screen printing machine like the Techtongda Silk Screen Printing Press Machine. These machines allow you to make a design once and use it over and over again for a quick and cheap t-shirt production process.
Heat Press – Heat presses are a very versatile tool to make t-shirts. There are several methods that can be used to create all sorts of designs with a heat press like the F2C Heat Press Machine, and all of them are quick and easy to use.
Once you have decided on the process that you want to utilize to make your shirts, you need to figure out the plate size that you need. The plate is what holds the shirt in place while you are printing. If you are going to be making smaller designs, then you can get by with a smaller plate, like the one on the Cricut Easy Press 2.
On the other hand, if you want to make a larger design on your t-shirts, then you will need a larger plate to fit it. If that is the case for you, then the PowerPress Digital Sublimation Heat Press is a good model to look into. It has one 15 x 15-inch plate that should easily accommodate larger designs.
Temperature and time settings
If you decide to get a heat press, then you will need to pay special attention to the different temperature and time settings available to you. Depending on the method that you use to transfer your design onto your shirt, you will need different heat levels and amounts of time. It is important, for instance, to make sure that you can get your press up to 400 degrees if you are using sublimation to print your design.
The F2C Heat Press Machine is a great machine in this regard. It can heat up to 400 degrees and has a very accurate timer that is capable of going up to 999 seconds if needed.
When using a heat press, you need to make sure that the plate is nonstick, like the one on the PowerPress Digital Sublimation Heat Press. That way, you won’t need to worry about the shirt or design getting stuck on the plate during the printing process.
Of course, even if the plate isn’t completely nonstick, you can still utilize it quite effectively, as long as you use a printer sheet between the plate and the shirt. This will, however, add a bit more to the operation costs, so it is better to get a nonstick plate right off the bat to save you time and money down the road.
Dimensions and weight
You will also have to decide how large a machine you are able to set up in your shop. Depending on the type of machine you get, you can expect to take up different amounts of room. Generally speaking, heat presses and DTG machines usually take up a lot less space than a screen printer, so if you have a smaller workspace, you will want to go for one of those devices. If you really want to save space and don’t need to make very large designs, the Cricut Easy Press 2 is a great device to get. It is extremely compact, making it perfect for use in a home office or other smaller settings.
Whenever you are buying a new machine, be it a washer, drier, or t-shirt printer, it is always a good idea to look for one that comes with a good warranty. That way, you will be covered should anything fail through normal use. After all, when it comes to using a t-shirt printing machine, there are a lot of different moving parts, such as heating elements or printing components to take into account. You just have to make sure that you read through the warranty information very carefully. Even though all of the companies from our listing are great businesses, it is still a good idea to look at what is and what isn’t covered under warranty.
How to transfer an image onto a T-shirt with a heat press
Using a heat press to make a t-shirt is not a terribly complicated process. The trickiest part is usually figuring out the type of print that you are going to be using. There are several to choose from, which include the following:
Sublimation – with this method, you digitally print graphics and then heat them to transfer them to your shirt. This method works by heating the specialized ink until it turns into a gas, and thus, transfers to and becomes part of your shirt. This is the most expensive method of heat transfer.
Plastisol Transfer – in this method, your color design is printed on specialized heat plastic backing. This will allow you to transfer your design on top of your t-shirt, making this a quick and relatively inexpensive design process.
Vinyl Transfer – vinyl transfer is much like plastisol, but a bit more durable. It does take a lot longer to set up, however, and can only be used for very basic designs.
Once you have decided upon your process, using a heat press is very simple and can be accomplished in a few simple steps:
Set the machine to the correct temperature and pressure to allow it time to heat up before you start your transfer.
Place your shirt on the lower plate and position your design correctly. Be sure to keep the shirt completely flat before you start to transfer.
Once everything is in the correct position, lower the top plate, and lock it in place.
Let the press sit closed for the correct amount of time.
Once the time is up, unlock and raise the top plate.
Remove the protective film off your shirt and admire your design!
When it comes to making t-shirts, the most economical method is going to be screen printing. With this method, you can quickly and cheaply produce lots of t-shirts with basic designs. You cannot, however, use multiple colors easily, so bear this in mind when you are choosing your machine.
When it comes to making the highest quality shirts possible, the Refretonic MT-TA3 is going to be your best bet. This machine can make highly detailed and intricate designs in full color, making it an exceptional choice for consumers.
The F2C Heat Press Machine is capable of printing on a variety of materials and different items. It is a perfect machine if you want to expand your operation beyond simple t-shirts. Even if you want to make designs on coffee mugs, you will be able to do so with this easy to set up and use machine.
If you are looking for the best overall t-shirt printing machine, then the F2C Heat Press Machine is probably going to be for you. This machine is easy to use, has a high maximum temperature, and can even be used to print on multiple other items. We highly recommend that you check this machine out!
The Cricut Easy Press 2 is very easy to use and extremely compact. This smaller than average design makes it good for anyone that is working from a home office since it doesn’t take up a lot of room but still can make amazingly durable designs.
If you want the best t-shirt printing machine you can get, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then the PowerPress Digital Sublimation Heat Press is for you. This machine can reach extremely high temperatures and is very easy to use.