Not everyone wants or needs a large heat press hanging around their home. Sometimes there isn’t the space, sometimes there isn’t the money for a larger one, and sometimes there just isn’t the need.
There is plenty you can do with a small heat press:
Size and brand labels
Metal and wood plaques and tags
Coasters and mousepads
The question isn’t so much ‘what can I press on?’
It is ‘which small heat press is best for me?’
Hopefully, by the end of this article you will know the answer to that question. This is a list of the best small heat presses available, giving you their features, specs, and an idea of whether they would be right for you.
Before going much further I better give my definition of small!
For the sake of this post, a small heat press is a press with less than a 15 x 15 inch heat platen. These are flat heat presses for pressing garments and labels, not for mugs and caps.
Now that we’ve got that out the way, please continue to discover which small heat press is best for you.
We begin our list with a great little machine – the Transpro Mini. This machine comes with a 9 x 12 inch heat platen making it great for use as a craft or hobby press.
Threadable lower platen – this means you can slip a t-shirt over the lower platen, pressing only one side of the garment. This feature can also make it easier to get an even pressure.
A digital time and temperature control – as you’d expect with any machine these days
A silicon pad on the lower platen
A heavy duty design with a scratch-resistant powder coated finish
A temperature range of 0-450℉ set with the digital temperature controller
Weight of 35 pounds or about the weight of your average 2 year old – very manageable to shift around, though you probably wouldn’t want to be lugging it with you all day long!
Can press items up to 1 inch thick
Who Is This Heat Press Good For?
As I said above, this machine would be a great addition to your craft room. I think this would also be good for somebody who is not so sure whether t-shirt creation is for them. You can test the waters with a machine like this.
It might also be useful if you’re in business and need a heat press for use at trade shows or fairs – a small heat press is obviously much easier to carry around.
Some items that you might typically press with the TransPro Mini include:
Small transfers onto larger garments
This press is suitable for pressing:
HTV (heat transfer vinyl)
and other transfer images
Proworld advertises this press as being able to press ALL types of heat transfers
This is a swing-away press giving you easy access to the lower platen and enabling you to lay down your transfers without interference from above.
As you’ll see in the (very poor quality) video below, sometimes things go wrong!
It’s good to be aware of what can possibly go wrong, especially if it is a common complaint. The customer’s problem in the following video seems like a one-off. They got a dud and their machine won’t hold temperature.
Remember, however, that the press comes with a one year warranty when bought through Amazon. Also keep in mind that this is a very cheap heat press. You can’t expect it to perform like a $1000 machine.
ProWorld, the sellers of this press, are a reputable company who strive to do right by their customers. If something goes wrong and it’s their fault, they’ll make it right. See how they respond to this user with a problem at t-shirtforums.com.
They have great customer service and care, one of the benefits with going for this heat press machine.
#2 Rincons 4 x 6 Heat Press
This is a very small heat press indeed! With a heat platen of only 4 by 6 inches, the Rincons Heat Press is perfect for doing a few specific jobs, such as pressing labels.
This press has a digital time and temperature display
A steel scratch-resistant frame
A top heating platen (the bottom does not heat up)
Adjustable pressure clamp
0-400℉ temperature range
Time range of 0-240 seconds
What Is This Press Good For?
This press is specifically for pressing labels and tags onto garments.
With it you can apply custom size and brand labels to your garments. Because this machine is so small, you are able to do these small heat transfers after having done the main, larger transfer. You won’t have to worry about messing up your first transfer.
As an example, you can press size labels onto the inside of your t-shirts giving a very personal and professional look to your garment. This is shown in the following short video – although they are using a large heat press for the job. Imagine how much easier it would be with the Rincons 4 x 6!
Another idea is to use this machine to apply your own personal brand label – often these are placed in one of the bottom corners of the t-shirt. The person demonstrating this in the video below is using an iron. It would be a lot easier (and last a lot longer) with the Rincons 4 x 6!
Features such as we’ve just described, having a custom size and a personal brand label, add a sense of authority and authenticity to your garments.
It is good to have this continuity in your t-shirt designs – these features that carry on from tee to tee. It identifies it as your creation! Can you imagine a Nike garment without the Nike ‘swoosh’?
Aside from garments, here are some other small items that you can press with this machine:
Foam or wood coasters
Steel ID tags
You are able to press all the usual types of transfer with this machine.
Like all cheap heat presses, this machine can have faults – be they electrical or otherwise. But like all heat press machines on Amazon, it comes with a 1 year warranty for your peace of mind.
Common traits of Chinese made presses, such as this one, include:
A generic look and design (the Chinese presses are easy to spot – I think they often look a bit clunky and awkward. Compare with this small American made press – stylish!)
They may not be as durable and may not last as long
They may not be as happy about pressing tons of labels in a shorter period of time
The display bells and whistles are not always as high quality
A lesser quality heating coil within the heat platen
These things are not negatives, per se (for all you Latin speakers out there), because ultimately it means the heat press is cheap! It all depends on your requirements and budget.
Scratch-resistant paint job over industrial strength frame
Digital time and heat control (don’t ask me what it would be otherwise!)
Silicon gel base pad that has been glued down (not all base pads come glued down)
Weighs 27.9 pounds
Temperature range of 0 – 500° making it suitable for sublimation
Time range of 0 – 999 seconds
Who Is This Press Good For?
This small press is perfect for the person with a limited budget but who wants a machine that has been tried and tested. The PowerPress 9 x 12 has sold plenty of units and has a very good star rating on Amazon – 4.2/5 stars from 37 reviews at the time of writing.
Who is it for?
The person who has up until now been using their iron to do heat transfers
Ideal for home use
Good for the crafts room
Good for homeschooling projects
Great for making gifts for friends and family
Excellent for beginners
You are able to press all of the same transfers onto all of the same substrates as are listed with the other presses above. Keep in mind the size – 9 by 12 inches. You are only really able to press transfers smaller than that.
And who is it not for?
I would not buy this machine if I were going to be using it often for business purposes. If you are intending to use it day in and day out, or are going to be relying on it for paid jobs, I would consider a different model.
It is not for you if you are loaded with money! Go with the Hotronix Maxx listed below!
The downside to a machine like this is that it is not as reliable as a more expensive press. This is another cheap heat press that will go well for 90% of people, but 10% of people will walk away dissatisfied and angry.
According to reviews, some machines will have an issue heating up. They will also show an infuriating HHH on the display while continually beeping at you.
To be honest, this machine has not been very well reviewed on Amazon. At the time of writing, it has only a 3.1/5 star rating, with some negative and worrying reviews.
It is said that the company is difficult to deal with if you are having any problems. I would consider choosing another press. We will continue to give information below for those who are still curious. At the end of the day, it is very cheap and who knows? You might get a good run out of it. And, let’s put it this way, more people have been satisfied than dissatisfied.
11.5 x 9 heat platen
Swing-away style heat press
Digital time and temperature display
Weighs 29 pounds
Temperature range of 0 – 450℉
Time range 0 – 999 seconds
Who Is This Press For?
Like the PowerPress machine above, and the Mophorn machine below, this is an entry-level machine.
It is best for:
Someone experimenting and testing with heat pressing
Home craft use
Trialing a small business
Making gifts for friends and family
Taking to trade or craft shows
Somebody with a small budget
This would not be a great press for use in a business that is doing well. I would be hesitant to rely on this press as my primary means of production.
If you fit into the ‘best for’ criteria above though, and you like the look of it, then go for it. It comes with a one year warranty and as I’ve already said, there have been plenty of happy customers.
Like the cons of the cheap heat presses above, this is simply not a top-of-the-line machine.
#5 Mophorn 10 x 12 Heat Press
This is Mophorn’s contribution to small heat presses.
The Mophorn 12 x 10 inch heat press is a very similar machine to the PowerPress 9 x 12 and the BestEquip 9 x 11.5. At the end of the day there are only slight variations between the machines. Therefore, you can expect them to function about the same.
In fact, compare the pictures of the Mophorn and the BestEquip. They are identical. The only difference is that the Mophorn is a fraction larger, with a corresponding increase in price. It is more than likely they come from the same factory. Nevertheless, let’s have a look at Mophorn’s small heat press.
This is a swing-away style press
Digital time and temperature display
Adjustable pressure knob (like every heat press!)
0 – 440℉ temperature range
0 – 999 second time range (but I probably wouldn’t put anything in for 999 seconds!)
Weighs 37 pounds
Who Is This Machine For?
Like the PowerPress and BestEquip machines, this machine is best for simple home use. Great for the craft room for making gifts for friends and family. It can press all the usual transfers onto all the usual substrates.
This machine would not be ideal for a thriving (or striving to be thriving) business. These cheap heat presses are entry-level machines not made for full-time commercial use.
It is unlikely to last as long or perform as well as an expensive machine such as the Hotronix Maxx listed below. However, there is a good chance it is the right press for you!
It will do the job it’s advertised as doing and comes with a one year warranty through Amazon.
The Hotronix Maxx is available in three sizes. The 11 x 15 is the smallest size. Here is a good overview of the three machines by the Stahls’ team:
A clamshell style press which opens wide to 65° (10° wider than other clamshells)
Stahls’ patented upper flotational platen – this is an excellent feature, especially if your garments are not totally flat. The platen can land down and move (or float) slightly and keep pressure over slight inclines or declines. This is the only way to get an even pressure from corner to corner, top to bottom – necessary for the perfect transfer.
Smooth shock opening – no ugly jarring when opening and closing
Scratch-resistant powder coated finish
A coated non-stick heat platen
A cast in tubular heating element – a better, more even and reliable way to heat the platen
Haha. No, because it is the most expensive small heat press on our list, it won’t be for everyone. This is by far the best small heat press, which is obviously why it costs the most. It is the best quality, best looking, best functioning, and has the best features.
It is good for the person looking to make money with their press. It is good for the business owner who needs a quality and reliable ‘work-horse’ of a machine. There is nothing that will compare to the ease of use of this machine, as well as the quality of the end product.
It comes with a lifetime warranty on the heating element, and a 1 year warranty on the parts and labor.
It’s expensive for a small heat press! And, you may spend too much time creating t-shirts if you have this machine. It may be too much fun.
If you would like a slightly better machine than these three, for a small increase in price, I would go for the TransPro 9 x 12 Mini Heat Press.Proworld, who supply this machine, are a great company and were you to experience any difficulties or problems, they will be a much easier company to deal with than the three above.
If you are after a very small heat press, go for the Rincons 4 x 6 Heat Press. This is the perfect machine for doing your size and brand labels.
If you are going to be using this machine for business I would definitely go with the best, the Hotronix MAXX 11 x 15 Heat Press. This will be a reliable machine that will do the best possible job.
The MAXX is also for the casual and craft user who can afford it, or is willing to spend the money. If you like having the best, this is the one.
And finally, if it’s a grilled cheese sandwich that you’re after, I would go with the Panini Press. The only press on the list with dual heat platens, and for a low, low price, you can have a hot toasted sandwich in no time.
Thanks for reading this article, we hope it’s helped! Leave your comments, questions and concerns below and we’d be happy to interact with you soon!
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