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Discussion Starter #1
I have been a sign maker for 12 years now and have a vinyl cutter. I have many people who want a short run of tshirts made. My question is, I have an old(large) dry mount press used to dry mount photos. It is flat and heats up. Could this work to apply heat transfer vinyl? Is there a lot of pressure needed on the shirt?
Is this just a crazy idea? All opinions are welcome. These presses can be found relatively cheap if you can find one.

Thanks in advance,

Wade
 

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Re: Makeshift Heat Press Question

Hi Wade, welcome to the forums!

Your idea might not be crazy.

OK, I didn't know what a dry mount press was or what it looked like, so I looked it up. It should be able to do a decent job, but there are a few things that you will need to know to determine if it will work.

Lets assume you will be working with ThermoFlex vinyl for making shirts since you are a sign maker with a good vinyl plotter and all the right software already. This will require medium to hard pressure and between 345 and 350 degrees temp. for 20 seconds.

If a dry mount press can produce that temperature accurately and evenly across it's platen, and give firm enough pressure, then you could use it I suppose. It doesn't look like the platens open up very far from the pictures I've seen, so that will make it harder to line up the garment, and also avoid getting burned, but maybe yours opens wide enough.

You would have to be able to read and adjust the temp, and you could time it with any timer I guess. Maybe there is a timer built into a dry mount press?

Is the pressure adjustable? If you place a dollar bill at all four corners of the press and cannot easily pull it out, then there is a good chance that you will have enough pressure.

I would definitely try it. Get some ThermoFlex Plus vinyl, a cotton tee and try it out. (Don't forget to cut a mirrored image.)

It would be better than an iron that's for sure, and it could get you going until you get a regular garment heat press.

You will find that weeding ThermoFlex is a lot easier than weeding 3M, Avery or Oracal, and I find that my cutter settings for ThermoFlex are the same as those I use for Oracal cast. Let us know how it turns out!
 

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Re: Makeshift Heat Press Question

Hey! Thanks for the reply. It goes up to 350 degrees. I will definately try this and let you know how it works. What about the surfaces? I read about using teflon sheets. There is a pad in the platten. Should I use the something in there? I am ordering some vinyl this weekend.

Thanks again,

Wade
 

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Re: Makeshift Heat Press Question

What type of pad is on the platen?

Teflon sheets are great for not letting the inks from ink-jet transfers get onto your upper platen and then ruin the next shirt you make. They also are good for protecting certain areas of a shirt if you are pressing more than one design or layer.

With ThermoFlex, you don't have to worry about any inks of course, but if you are doing a multiple color design you can use either a Teflon sheet or a sheet of craft paper to protect previous color layers from directly touching the top platen.

Registering your color layers can easily be done by site, since the backing on ThermoFlex is clear. Also, it is the backing that has a light adhesive to hold the design in place. Unlike sign vinyl, the thermal vinyl itself does not have any adhesive on it, and you also do not use any transfer paper.

You can layer multiple colors of ThermoFlex just like you can with sign vinyl, and sometimes that's the easiest way to do it, but it will produce a slightly heavier hand. (feel of thickness) When doing a design with only two overlapping layers it is not something to worry about. If you have three or more color layers overlapping, I usually take the time to punch the hidden layers out within the software and then go back and create a medium hairline overlap to help with registration and avoid color gaps. This keeps the hand to a minimum and will feel very much like a screen print.

By the way, is it the top platen that gets hot on a dry mount press?
That is what you will want.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Re: Makeshift Heat Press Question

I will check that out. Thanks again. Your info is priceless.

Wade
 

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Re: Makeshift Heat Press Question

Hey! Thanks for the reply. It goes up to 350 degrees. I will definately try this and let you know how it works. What about the surfaces? I read about using teflon sheets. There is a pad in the platten. Should I use the something in there? I am ordering some vinyl this weekend.

Thanks again,

Wade
This is an old discussion but I am still interested in learning if the dry mount press worked for HT. The new vinyl HT can be used with lower temperatures (under 350). There's old dry mount presses that you can get really cheap used and they are US made platen (over $1K when new). I have researched it and it says the platen heats up evenly up to 350, no problem with pressure because they can be adjusted up to 500 PSI (Medium setting on heat press is 40 psi). I saw one that swings away, so no problem placing a shirt.
 
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