T-Shirt Forums banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Need info for building a heat press for T-shirt transfers.
I have searched the site and only found a few threads which basically link to one that talks about a wood thing you could buy plans for at one time, mentions it was a cooking griddle and not any good also.

Surely it cannot be that hard to build one!

I don't have the money to pay $400 and up for a decent one, and I don't want junk either. Not really sure how much I will use it to pay allot. Have not found any used ones so far.

I can buy all kinds of heating elements, controls, timers, heat resistant wire, etc... and build a Powder Coat oven that must reach and hold near 500F for 20 minutes and longer.

How hard could it be to make an accurate flat top heating unit and a mechanism to move it out of the way, also lock it down with pressure when in use?

What I don't know is anything about the pads/platens that contact the shirts and transfers.
What are these, how are they made? Is the top unit solid metal with a cover? Is it padded? What kind of padding is used? How is the bottom made? Stiff and hard, firm flexible?

I don't have anywhere to look at one in person, figured I could find lots of info here, but I haven't yet.

I have a small lath and milling machine, seems like something like this should be fairly easy to build.
Even a frame from wood for the non-heated parts would seem like an option for many hobbyists, though I can build a frame from steel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,502 Posts
Des, I wish you luck but there are Heat presses starting at like $150,00 don't try to reinvent the wheel. Good luck, John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys.

I haven't found anything for $150 yet :(
I found some on E-bay like Black magic for more and $100 shipping, but the things I've read about them so far did not sound that good. Others like the 6 in 1 and 9 in 1 stuff looks decent but gimicky, a bit expensive, and $100 for shipping! Not found much for reviews on those but I don't expect them to be that great, maybe a Back Magic with extras?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,502 Posts
Des, look on the left hand side of the page under Sponsors (They keep this site free) for Pro World, they have one for $169.00 plus he contributes to the posts, John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's a great deal at ProWorld I think, but the machine is only $169 if you also buy $300 in transfers and I called today and shipping is $40 to me. That's a total of $509

I can get some inkjet transfer paper as part of the $300, but I don't need all that much paper right now to start really. I don't have a market for pre-made transfers either.
They do have some great transfers I like, I just don't have anywhere to sell them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
319 Posts
Thanks guys.

I haven't found anything for $150 yet :(
I found some on E-bay like Black magic for more and $100 shipping, but the things I've read about them so far did not sound that good. Others like the 6 in 1 and 9 in 1 stuff looks decent but gimicky, a bit expensive, and $100 for shipping! Not found much for reviews on those but I don't expect them to be that great, maybe a Back Magic with extras?
Heat presses are heavy. If you are buying cheap you are paying the shipping. If you are buying expensive you may get free shipping.

Why are you buying one of these if you dont have anywhere to sell anything? Just want a hobbie?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I do a little 3D art work I'd like to put on shirts and some friends do art also.

Once I get started I can make a market, I think. Lots of places around I've sold other items to I'm pretty sure will buy shirts also, but maybe they won't?

Need the press to make the shirts to make the money to buy the press LOL

Then there is also the cost of getting about 50-100 shirts or so to get started with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,249 Posts
IMO you,ll need more than just a small lathe and a milling machine.
A welder and a sheet cutter and a drill press would also be needed. Apart from a blinking good knowledge of electrics.
Also make sure that you get yourself some good insurance if you burn down your house. period.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
IMO you,ll need more than just a small lathe and a milling machine.
A welder and a sheet cutter and a drill press would also be needed. Apart from a blinking good knowledge of electrics.
Also make sure that you get yourself some good insurance if you burn down your house. period.
Thanks.
I build tons of my own stuff and have all those tools and more, torches, metal saws etc....
Lathe does a 16" swing 30" or so long. I maybe shouldn't have really said small, I was thinking compared to the BIG ones. I forgot there are table top models also which are small like 5" swing 10" long.

The electronics should not be hard at all, buy good heating elements, heat resistant wire, and a controller. Follow wiring instructions on the controller. About $50 maybe $60 in parts there.
Controller includes a timer built in depending which one you buy. I should have an extra here I bought for a spare if I can find it.

If I can build a large powder coating oven that must maintain a constant variable temperatures up to 500F at times for long periods then wiring up a hot plate for pressing should be easy enough for me.

It's the parts that press the shirts, platens, I don't know much about. The heat and frame should be easy for me to setup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone.
From various machines I looked at online and posts I've read, etc... I think I will order a Proworld $169 unit and transfers Monday to get started and use that while I build my own.

Thanks to the link to the Ebay Sunnie also, I had not found that one myself.
The comment about being able to resell it later I think is what actually made me decide to buy the Proworld unit now. I can resell the transfers if I don't use them, maybe sell machine and break even later also.

I'll still want to build mine now that I been thinking about it. A Flat 15"x15" unit is good for me now, I am sure I will want larger later and also a round plate press too at sometime maybe.

Here's other thought's on mine I have since other may be do a search like I did for info.

I can look at the platens on that unit I buy when it arrives to see what I need for on mine. I already have a design in mind for mine to make it rise open 90 degree and stay open, and to lock it in place when closed, also to adjust pressure.
I have to look up heat rating for Kevlar, I think that's pretty heat resistant and I have some around I could use for covers if I need it.
After all, it can't really get that hot on the bottom, we are doing cotton T's on it! The highest setting I found is 385F so far for transfers. That really is not that hot considering a standard house oven goes up to 500F or so and I cook Lasagna at about 425-450F.

There are basically 2 types of controllers, simple ON OFF type. Cookware often uses this type and that is why you see a crockpot boil hard when already hot and ON then it sits steaming when OFF, power is either full on or full off.
That would be the wrong type to use!

The other type is adjustable power for adjustable heat. This would be heavier duty but similar to a light dimmer switch. When on it is always on and you adjust it to the brightness of the light you want, or in this case the heat you want. This type would maintain constant even heat as it is always on if turned on. A light dimmer switch would not work as it is light duty and would not handle the power load. An external router speed control works this way also as well as many other motor controllers.

The average 110V circuit is 15amps sometimes 20amps, for this reason the heating unit should be designed for about 10amps. Often there may be other items on the same circuit. 10Amps is about 1100-1200watts depending on actual line voltage which varies. This puts the heating unit right about inline with many other household items such as coffee pots, microwaves, deep fryers, hotplates and other electric cooking items.

The other thing is the top needs some thermal mass. It needs to heat quickly evenly and hold heat so it does not cool too quickly. This would prevent cold spots if heater elements are properly located also.

Everything else is pretty much a basic solid frame work with pivot points it would seem. It needs to open and close easily and comfortably, and quickly if doing high volume production work.

Heating elements are simple resistance items. Ni-chrome wire is a bare wire that SHOULD NOT BE USED!! It will short out and can shock you, kill you etc..
Heating elements are basically safe, similar to those used in electric stove and there are other types also.
They can burn you like on a stove but generally do not shock people nor short out which is why they are used on stoves tops.

In heat related areas wire with high temperature rated insulation should be used. Normal wire rubber insulation is not suitable for high temperatures.

At least a basic knowledge of electricity and safety is needed for such a project. Never use normal solder on heating element connections if they may get hot, heat is what melts solder in the first place!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
if you dont have $400 to invest in a business right now maybe you should look at doing something else. Save some money and then start up a business. No insult intended. Your time and money spent on making a heat press could be used to earn and buy a real press.
i agree very much on this post.

DIY, you pro'ly be saving $50? or $100?..... invest that to a commercial ready-made heat press and you'll be safe.
DO NOT play with electrical/heating elements if that's not your trade.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,785 Posts
please keep us posted on what you do I would like to see you make heat press just to see if it will work good luck..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
It sounds like you have the knowledge to build it, but I can almost guarantee that you will spend as much building one as you could buy a good Mighty Press.

The top platen is aluminum with an element cast inside of it. This feature alone is what ensures the most even heat possible, and is going to be difficult to duplicate without a casting. The best you will be able to do is fasten an element to a plate, which will then only give you the heat transfer of the surfaces in contact. You will basically lose all the rest of the elements heating potential (probably about 90-95%, based on the surface finish of your heat plate.
This plate is also teflon coated typically, which is not a deal-breaker.

All the presses I have seen have temperature adjustments of the first type you mention, on/off. However, they are sensitive, and will come back on when the temp drops by a degree or so from your set temp.

The bottom plate is covered with a 1/2" of rubber or so.

The other difficulty in building your own is making it rigid enough to maintain an flat, even pressure when the clamp is applied. This is why most good heat presses contain large, heavy castings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,398 Posts
is your lathe making you any money? if not sell it and then buy the heat press. do you want to make shirts, be a 3d artist or be norm from this old house?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It sounds like you have the knowledge to build it, but I can almost guarantee that you will spend as much building one as you could buy a good Mighty Press.

The top platen is aluminum with an element cast inside of it. This feature alone is what ensures the most even heat possible, and is going to be difficult to duplicate without a casting. The best you will be able to do is fasten an element to a plate, which will then only give you the heat transfer of the surfaces in contact. You will basically lose all the rest of the elements heating potential (probably about 90-95%, based on the surface finish of your heat plate.
This plate is also teflon coated typically, which is not a deal-breaker.

All the presses I have seen have temperature adjustments of the first type you mention, on/off. However, they are sensitive, and will come back on when the temp drops by a degree or so from your set temp.

The bottom plate is covered with a 1/2" of rubber or so.

The other difficulty in building your own is making it rigid enough to maintain an flat, even pressure when the clamp is applied. This is why most good heat presses contain large, heavy castings.
Thank you!

That is the type information I was looking for.
Casting aluminum is pretty simple, for me anyway, I do that also. Never tried casting in a heating element though, I'll have to look into that. I could use the milling machine to router in a groove for the element then fill and cover with another aluminum plate or such. Sandwich the element inside though it would not be cast inside, should work the same and replaceable also if needed sometime.

I like to build things, I build wind generators sometimes (Wind Mills) so a good frame work should not be too hard. Can't have a wind mill falling on peoples heads from 30-80' high LOL

The rubber pad, thanks. Is that a pretty hard rubber or soft rubber with flex? I can buy rubber pads of various types.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
is your lathe making you any money? if not sell it and then buy the heat press. do you want to make shirts, be a 3d artist or be norm from this old house?
HA HA funny LOL

I'd rather be Tim from Tool Time LOL
Darn, can't think of name of show, I don't watch TV any more for like 10 years now or longer.

I use the lathe allot because I build lots of things and make many of my own parts. I like to build things.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
i agree very much on this post.

DIY, you pro'ly be saving $50? or $100?..... invest that to a commercial ready-made heat press and you'll be safe.
DO NOT play with electrical/heating elements if that's not your trade.
People fear the unknown, and to MOST people the world itself is unknown!

True in the long run I may not save a ton of money on one 15"x15" unit, but then I can build as many as I want any size I want. Also if I want something specail sized for my own use I can build that also!

No User Serviceable Parts Inside? How many times have I taken a $100 Micro wave destined for the trash and replaced a simple $1 fuse? Good as new and safe as new, same fuse as new! Or I have manually cleaned the heads on a VCR or DVD player that was not working, good as new!

People just don't learn to live life much anymore.
It's work and TV or games and more work.
The only thing to fear is fear itself! OH and also government!

Heating with electricity is nothing more than basic resistance! It does not need to be your trade, you just need to know basics of electricity! Like 8th grade class where I went to school!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
Thank you!

That is the type information I was looking for.
Casting aluminum is pretty simple, for me anyway, I do that also. Never tried casting in a heating element though, I'll have to look into that. I could use the milling machine to router in a groove for the element then fill and cover with another aluminum plate or such. Sandwich the element inside though it would not be cast inside, should work the same and replaceable also if needed sometime.

I like to build things, I build wind generators sometimes (Wind Mills) so a good frame work should not be too hard. Can't have a wind mill falling on peoples heads from 30-80' high LOL

The rubber pad, thanks. Is that a pretty hard rubber or soft rubber with flex? I can buy rubber pads of various types.
Yes, if you are familiar with castings, you could start with an aluminum plate, mill it out for the element and cast over the top of it (obviously, the alloys should be the same, and the plate would need to be preheated).
Alternately, you could cast the element and machine the face flat, although you would have to deal with potential warpage.

The element on my presses is about 3/8-1/2" in diameter and covers the square in 4 "loops".

The rubber pad is a very soft, open-celled rubber. You can easily press your thumb into it to the bottom platen. This probably helps quite a bit with misalignment of the top to bottom platen.

Do it, man!
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top