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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!
You will get the most help starting up from conde.com. Equipment, directions, products. They helped me a lot. They are im Mobile AL
 

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You will also need tacky sublimation paper for fabrics, especially if you settle on a clamshell press.
I get by with just two pieces of heat tape, one placed at the middle of each long side. This keeps it in place well enough (under blowout paper), and makes it easy for me to grab a corner and whip the paper off without getting blurring. Works better with my new clamshell press that does NOT have autorelease, as I can avoid a big air-stirring jerk at open. But, yes, the tacky paper might be a good idea--better than messing about with spray.

EDIT: "with" to "without"
 

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I get by with just two pieces of heat tape, one placed at the middle of each long side. This keeps it in place well enough (under blowout paper), and makes it easy for me to grab a corner and whip the paper off with getting blurring. Works better with my new clamshell press that does NOT have autorelease, as I can avoid a big air-stirring jerk at open. But, yes, the tacky paper might be a good idea--better than messing about with spray.
I have larger 13x13 images with lots of text, text always ghosts with the (cheap amazon) clamshell. Never a problem with the HIX swinger. It might also be that I started prepressing for longer and the fabric is not shrinking under the hix
 

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What oven are you using, I would love to reduce that 12 minutes
It's a 2000w 60L oven I bought used on eBay for £40.
The brand is Muhler but that's not important... Any oven with the same specifications will do the same.
 

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It's a 2000w 60L oven I bought used on eBay for £40.
The brand is Muhler but that's not important... Any oven with the same specifications will do the same.
I am not getting how such an oven can do a mug in 1/2 the time. Mugs from Conde, JPPlus and Coastal all require 12-15 minutes in the convection oven @ 400F. Is there something else that allows you to do the mugs in 5 minutes?
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
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.
This is definitely something I can get started with! I really appreciate the advice, you guys are great!

Is there a brand of blanks you guys generally recommend?

Also, for when I do eventually get a heat press for shirts, what's the difference between:
Display squares,
Non stick sheets,
Silicone covers,
Pressing pillows,
Platen wraps,
And pads?
How many of these things are necessary?
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
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.
Perfect! I'll make sure whichever one I get had those. Thanks so much 😊
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
What size fabric items are you expecting.
Well one of the first items is a pair of leggings that I would like to do in a Harley Quinn print I designed. I know I'll have to do it in parts as is, since the full length of the leggings wouldn't fit in even the 20x20 heat presses. But the fewer sections I'd have to divide it into, the better I think.

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
Yeah, I'm trying to avoid anything cheap but that means it's gonna be quite pricey. I've had a hard time finding good used ones that sellers are willing to actually ship or that are in South Florida where I can drive to pick them up. I am planning to rearrange my office/craft room so I'll have enough space for at least the heat press. But I'm definitely sticking to a swing away so I know I'll need extra space for that.

You will also need tacky sublimation paper for fabrics, especially if you settle on a clamshell press.
Oh, I didn't even know there was a tacky sublimation paper. I received some sub paper and small assortment of sample blanks along with the printer from the ebay seller I bought it from but it doesn't seem to be tacky. I'll definitely keep that in mind. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
You will get the most help starting up from conde.com. Equipment, directions, products. They helped me a lot. They are im Mobile AL
The paper and trial blanks that came with my used printer were from them but I didn't know they had directions. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
I get by with just two pieces of heat tape, one placed at the middle of each long side. This keeps it in place well enough (under blowout paper), and makes it easy for me to grab a corner and whip the paper off without getting blurring. Works better with my new clamshell press that does NOT have autorelease, as I can avoid a big air-stirring jerk at open. But, yes, the tacky paper might be a good idea--better than messing about with spray.
What's blowout paper?
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
I have larger 13x13 images with lots of text, text always ghosts with the (cheap amazon) clamshell. Never a problem with the HIX swinger. It might also be that I started prepressing for longer and the fabric is not shrinking under the hix
So for the prepressing, do you use the same temp? How long do you prepress the fabrics?
 

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I am not getting how such an oven can do a mug in 1/2 the time. Mugs from Conde, JPPlus and Coastal all require 12-15 minutes in the convection oven @ 400F. Is there something else that allows you to do the mugs in 5 minutes?
I don't really know, but I'm guessing it's probably for those large ovens doing 30 or 40 mugs at a time.
Obviously more mugs will take more time.

Oh, what oven do you have?
Just a cheap 2000w 60L countertop oven.
 

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This is definitely something I can get started with! I really appreciate the advice, you guys are great!

Is there a brand of blanks you guys generally recommend?

Also, for when I do eventually get a heat press for shirts, what's the difference between:
Display squares,
Non stick sheets,
Silicone covers,
Pressing pillows,
Platen wraps,
And pads?
How many of these things are necessary?
I use a pad that is smaller than my press and bigger than the area I want to sublimate, but not so big I couldn't position the shirt to keep the collar and seams and such off of it. So it can keep thick parts of the garment out of the way while also keeping the edges of the heat platen from creating creases in the garment. Pillows can be used in a similar way, but again they need to be smaller than the press or the edge of the platen will create creases. Unless there are unavoidable things like buttons in the way, I think a pad gives better results. These pads are made of the same stuff as the pad already on the bottom of your press.

For sublimation you probably want to use disposable stuff like uncoated butcher paper under and above what you are pressing, as it will absorb ink vapors and then you just toss it and use a fresh piece for the next item. If you use a Teflon sheet, or the like, for this, you'd need to clean it between each item. Besides, with sublimation it is a good idea to give those extra ink gases somewhere to go, and something impermeable like Teflon doesn't allow that.
 

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So for the prepressing, do you use the same temp? How long do you prepress the fabrics?
I used to pre-press for 10 seconds. Now I do for 20 seconds twice. First time to remove any moisture or cause shrinkage and second time to make sure the all creases are gone. Yes same temps. The fabric on my pillows has a stabilizer lining and is a lot thicker than on t-shirts so maybe that is why I need more time. I am also in a very humid climate which may be a contributor.

I started placing Nomex felt underneath the pillows now to avoid pressing the seams so the prepress may be overkill now.
 
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