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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all! I'm very new to all this and honestly am starting because I wanted to make some custom stuff for my cosplays and figured I could probably do something similar for others if I got a decent setup. I don't intend to make a full time home business out of it, but more on a small scale/by commission type thing. Then I started researching everything and my head was near exploding with ideas and possibilities (because I love mugs and dishware, as weird as that sounds). So, being the impulsive crazy person that I am, I bought a Sawgrass SG1000 and now I'm hoping I can get some feedback on the best heat press for garments and for other stuff. I was looking at this for the garments: TRANSPRO SWINGER 16x20 HEAT PRESS
And possibly a 3D vacuum heat press like this:
I like the idea of the 3D press because I can do multiple mugs or plates or phone cases in it without needing an absurd number of machines that I frankly wouldn't have enough space for.

I have read that there are some electrical concerns with the 3D ones, but I feel that if I unplug other things in the room when I plan to run it, that should be ok. Or am I grossly misunderstanding the issue? Also, I suppose I will need extra of the lining (I'm sure that's not the right word, but I can't seem to remember what it's called at the moment) as they are a consumable that breaks/pops regularly, is that right?

Another question is regarding any other consumables or accessories that I might need. I have sublimation ink and sublimation paper, I know I will need heat tape and gloves for both, and the mug and phone wraps to apply pressure to the 3D stuff, but I feel like there are other pieces I get glimpses of in tutorials but that I'm not sure what they are. Like some types of covers and silicone things are mentioned sometimes but it seems there are multiple things that all sounded/looked the same but might be different.

Sorry for the very long first post, but I truly appreciate any advice and help you can all provide!
 

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I started researching everything and my head was near exploding with ideas and possibilities (because I love mugs and dishware, as weird as that sounds).
many people like pottery and it can be a profitable hobby, or even a full scale business, if you have a little bit of talent and a little bit of confidence.
Sublimation is a "fake" pottery though, as the glaze is polyester and not ceramic.
I have read that there are some electrical concerns with the 3D ones, but I feel that if I unplug other things in the room when I plan to run it, that should be ok.
It depends on the wiring in your house. It draws 26A so it has to be on a 30A breaker.
The problem is that many houses in US only have 15A or 20A breakers.
 

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There are silicone wraps for mugs that clamp tightly around the blank and are for use with a convection type oven (as opposed to one with vacuum).

An "electrical issue" with a press that somehow relates to other household appliances, would probably just be the fact that heat presses of all types suck a good bit of power. A standard household outlet in the USA is 15 amps ... but there will be other outlets and lights and things on that same circuit, which may, or may not, be in the same room. Your place has a circuit breaker panel somewhere (often in an attached garage or utility room). Each circuit on the panel should be labeled to give you an idea of what each is for, but these are usually more of a clue than an exhaustive list of everything on a circuit. Anyway, find the one that seems to be labeled for outlets in the room you want to use. Then turn it off. Then go around checking to see what no longer works. Bring a lamp or radio or something to plug into any unused outlets you want to check. Check the refrigerator and freezer if those are not clearly labeled as being on a different circuit. (Stove and electric dryer and water heater will be separate for sure).

It is possible to buy a press that would draw too much power for an entire 15 amp circuit, but you couldn't physically plug it in because the plugs are made to be incompatible with 15 amp outlets. 15 amp 120 volt outlets have two vertical slots and the almost round 3rd hole below the two slots. A 20 amp 120 volt outlet looks just like that, except ONE of the vertical slots is shaped like a "T" lying on its side (if the second "vertical" slot is still the regular slot shape but also lying on its side, then that is a 240 volt outlet, like for a clothes dryer, or the like).

Anyway, the press should say how many watts it requires. Divide the watts by 120, that gives you how many amps it needs. So say the heat press is rated at 1500 watts. 1500/120 = 12.5 amps. That would leave very little headroom for any other use on a standard 15 amp circuit, so other than some trivial uses like LED lighting, you'd want to make sure nothing with a significant draw would kick on while using the press (electric motors, as in the fridge or freezer, have a surge in consumption when they first startup, so would be a poor playmate with a heat press).

A 16x20 swinger is a popular choice. I would probably suggest a Geo Knight over the TransPro, but for a hobby the price difference may be too large to justify. Hotronix and Hix are also good presses, but the price of repairs/parts are higher, and maybe less available (in the case of Hotronix) once your model is older. All that said, my first press was a less expensive "China" press and it was pretty well designed and built, and was great for what I used it for (curing screen prints). Well, until the controller failed after a year of light use. I rigged up a DIY fix for that, else it would be a boat anchor now. When I started playing around with sublimation, it simply was not up to the task, as it struggled to acheive and maintain the high temperatures needed for sublimation. A press with a maximum temperate of not much over 400F probably can't hit and hold 400 for use in sublimation. The max temp of my Geo Knight is 600F, and it has no problem holding sublimation-level temps like 385 or 400F. But most useful would be someone with direct experience of the press you are considering commenting about how well it performed in that regard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It depends on the wiring in your house. It draws 26A so it has to be on a 30A breaker.
The problem is that many houses in US only have 15A or 20A breakers.
That's unfortunate. I'm sure mine is on the lower end, considering I live in a condo and not a house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There are silicone wraps for mugs that clamp tightly around the blank and are for use with a convection type oven (as opposed to one with vacuum).
I did see that but I hadn't seen mention yet if there are similar things for dishware and phone cases in a convection oven. I might have to look into that a bit more.

An "electrical issue" with a press that somehow relates to other household appliances, would probably just be the fact that heat presses of all types suck a good bit of power. A standard household outlet in the USA is 15 amps ... but there will be other outlets and lights and things on that same circuit, which may, or may not, be in the same room. Your place has a circuit breaker panel somewhere (often in an attached garage or utility room). Each circuit on the panel should be labeled to give you an idea of what each is for, but these are usually more of a clue than an exhaustive list of everything on a circuit. Anyway, find the one that seems to be labeled for outlets in the room you want to use. Then turn it off. Then go around checking to see what no longer works. Bring a lamp or radio or something to plug into any unused outlets you want to check. Check the refrigerator and freezer if those are not clearly labeled as being on a different circuit. (Stove and electric dryer and water heater will be separate for sure).

It is possible to buy a press that would draw too much power for an entire 15 amp circuit, but you couldn't physically plug it in because the plugs are made to be incompatible with 15 amp outlets. 15 amp 120 volt outlets have two vertical slots and the almost round 3rd hole below the two slots. A 20 amp 120 volt outlet looks just like that, except ONE of the vertical slots is shaped like a "T" lying on its side (if the second "vertical" slot is still the regular slot shape but also lying on its side, then that is a 240 volt outlet, like for a clothes dryer, or the like).

Anyway, the press should say how many watts it requires. Divide the watts by 120, that gives you how many amps it needs. So say the heat press is rated at 1500 watts. 1500/120 = 12.5 amps. That would leave very little headroom for any other use on a standard 15 amp circuit, so other than some trivial uses like LED lighting, you'd want to make sure nothing with a significant draw would kick on while using the press (electric motors, as in the fridge or freezer, have a surge in consumption when they first startup, so would be a poor playmate with a heat press).
I would imagine that since I own a small 3 bedroom condo, it's going to be on the lower end of things but I'll be honest - I'm a little overwhelmed with all the electrical stuff. I do have a general idea of what's on each circuit because I've replaced some of the outlets that had cracked covers and I took time to write down which parts of the house each controlled but I may have missed an outlet or two in those notes. However, this would be on a circuit where the only other things are a TV with some vintage game systems (that are on a power strip that's always off when not in use) and my gaming desktop setup that's usually always on, but I suppose I could turn it off when I'm ready to use the heat press.

A 16x20 swinger is a popular choice. I would probably suggest a Geo Knight over the TransPro, but for a hobby the price difference may be too large to justify. Hotronix and Hix are also good presses, but the price of repairs/parts are higher, and maybe less available (in the case of Hotronix) once your model is older. All that said, my first press was a less expensive "China" press and it was pretty well designed and built, and was great for what I used it for (curing screen prints). Well, until the controller failed after a year of light use. I rigged up a DIY fix for that, else it would be a boat anchor now. When I started playing around with sublimation, it simply was not up to the task, as it struggled to acheive and maintain the high temperatures needed for sublimation. A press with a maximum temperate of not much over 400F probably can't hit and hold 400 for use in sublimation. The max temp of my Geo Knight is 600F, and it has no problem holding sublimation-level temps like 385 or 400F. But most useful would be someone with direct experience of the press you are considering commenting about how well it performed in that regard.
Yeah, I looked at Geo Knight but it's like 3x as expensive and I know the heat press is the most important thing but I suppose I was just hoping that the TransPro would be adequate for small scale. Since this will be primarily for sublimation, I was avoiding the Amazon stuff because I did see a bunch of people mentioning that while fine for HTV, it was not so great for sublimation. I suppose maybe I can look at slightly smaller 15x15 ones but cosplay stuff can be all over the place in size and I was hoping to get the larger one since I definitely can't afford (or find space for) the large format/industrial size stuff and it would be a bit of overkill if I did considering my needs.
 

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The TransPro you are looking at is 17 amps ... so more all by itself than a 15 amp circuit can take. The circuit breakers themselves will say what amperage each circuit is, so look at the one you want to use to see what it says.

I'm not sure if there are gizmos for use with plates, and the like, with convection ovens. I have a mug press myself, so no silicone wraps needed.
 

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Some folks are using shrink wrap to do mugs/tumblers in convection ovens.
In fact this "3d vacuum heat press" is actually just an overpriced toaster oven when doing mugs (the vacuum function is not used).
The high wattage (more energy) means it will heat up much faster than a regular 750w kitchen oven, but then you have the electricity supply issue.

A $50 oven will do the job for mugs, but much slower.
Something like 10 minutes to preheat, and another 5 to 6 minutes with the mugs in it.
The latter will depend on how many mugs you put in as well. Sublimating 10 mugs will take around 10-15 minutes depending on the oven.
The positive side is that you could run two of these side by side on a 120v 15A circuit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The TransPro you are looking at is 17 amps ... so more all by itself than a 15 amp circuit can take. The circuit breakers themselves will say what amperage each circuit is, so look at the one you want to use to see what it says.
So I was talking to my boyfriend's father and he mentioned that we might be able to upgrade the circuit to 20 amps. So that might be something to look into.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
In fact this "3d vacuum heat press" is actually just an overpriced toaster oven when doing mugs (the vacuum function is not used).
The high wattage (more energy) means it will heat up much faster than a regular 750w kitchen oven, but then you have the electricity supply issue.

A $50 oven will do the job for mugs, but much slower.
Something like 10 minutes to preheat, and another 5 to 6 minutes with the mugs in it.
The latter will depend on how many mugs you put in as well. Sublimating 10 mugs will take around 10-15 minutes depending on the oven.
The positive side is that you could run two of these side by side on a 120v 15A circuit.
That's interesting if I can do the shrink wrap with the other items as well. Is there a particular brand or model of oven that's best?
 

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Many small-scale makers are using table-top convection ovens intended for kitchen use (though you wouldn't want to use one for both sublimation and food). The main considerations besides power draw are if it is large enough to comfortably fit what you want to sublimate and is the air movement/convection good enough to avoid hot/cold areas.

No machine needed for the shrink wrap method (other than a convection oven). I've seen videos of people putting what is essentially a bag made of shrink wrap over the item and using a heat gun to shrink it to fit before putting it in the oven. Given the comparatively low cost of the equipment and materials, this might be a good way to get started.
 

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That's interesting if I can do the shrink wrap with the other items as well. Is there a particular brand or model of oven that's best?
You can do most things with shrink wrap.
Any brand or model will do but bigger is better, and air circulation and digital temperature settings are very helpful.
 

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In fact this "3d vacuum heat press" is actually just an overpriced toaster oven when doing mugs (the vacuum function is not used).
The high wattage (more energy) means it will heat up much faster than a regular 750w kitchen oven, but then you have the electricity supply issue.

A $50 oven will do the job for mugs, but much slower.
Something like 10 minutes to preheat, and another 5 to 6 minutes with the mugs in it.
The latter will depend on how many mugs you put in as well. Sublimating 10 mugs will take around 10-15 minutes depending on the oven.
The positive side is that you could run two of these side by side on a 120v 15A circuit.
12 minutes for mugs and add in another minute for each additional mug
 

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Many small-scale makers are using table-top convection ovens intended for kitchen use (though you wouldn't want to use one for both sublimation and food). The main considerations besides power draw are if it is large enough to comfortably fit what you want to sublimate and is the air movement/convection good enough to avoid hot/cold areas.

No machine needed for the shrink wrap method (other than a convection oven). I've seen videos of people putting what is essentially a bag made of shrink wrap over the item and using a heat gun to shrink it to fit before putting it in the oven. Given the comparatively low cost of the equipment and materials, this might be a good way to get started.
Many of us small crafter and shops use


Often on sale for $59

For odd shaped items the shrink wrap is used, for standardized mug sizes, these work wonderfully.

https://www.amazon.com/Sublimation-...words=sublimation+wrap&qid=1623251101&sr=8-11
 

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I did see that but I hadn't seen mention yet if there are similar things for dishware and phone cases in a convection oven. I might have to look into that a bit more.


I would imagine that since I own a small 3 bedroom condo, it's going to be on the lower end of things but I'll be honest - I'm a little overwhelmed with all the electrical stuff. I do have a general idea of what's on each circuit because I've replaced some of the outlets that had cracked covers and I took time to write down which parts of the house each controlled but I may have missed an outlet or two in those notes. However, this would be on a circuit where the only other things are a TV with some vintage game systems (that are on a power strip that's always off when not in use) and my gaming desktop setup that's usually always on, but I suppose I could turn it off when I'm ready to use the heat press.


Yeah, I looked at Geo Knight but it's like 3x as expensive and I know the heat press is the most important thing but I suppose I was just hoping that the TransPro would be adequate for small scale. Since this will be primarily for sublimation, I was avoiding the Amazon stuff because I did see a bunch of people mentioning that while fine for HTV, it was not so great for sublimation. I suppose maybe I can look at slightly smaller 15x15 ones but cosplay stuff can be all over the place in size and I was hoping to get the larger one since I definitely can't afford (or find space for) the large format/industrial size stuff and it would be a bit of overkill if I did considering my needs.
What size fabric items are you expecting.

Cheap presses often have uneven temps so you cannot reliably do large items on large cheap presses because you will get faded areas.

Heat presses also take up a lot of room to operate safely. For a 16x20 press, you will need a 3' x 3' or 2' x 4' work bench

You will also need tacky sublimation paper for fabrics, especially if you settle on a clamshell press.
 
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