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UK Vapor Foam Supplier/ warped press plate

2808 Views 5 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  magpie14
Hi everybody.

It's been a while since i posted, but i had many probs to sort out with dye sub shirts. Anyway, got it running nicely now. Payback time now for some of the help I've had here.

Checked out some threads over the years about a UK vapor foam supplier and pretty much what I found - none? Yolo do some pillows but all wrong size for me.

Forget vapor foam guys, at least in the UK. Use silicone sponge instead.I read somewhere that vapor foam lasts maybe 50 presses. I've had in excess of 300 presses without any signs of failure. Cheap as well.Type into ebay Silicone Sponge (not foam) and a lot of A4 sheets will be displayed in almost any thickness you want. Look for silex silicone. Their standard grade on ebay seems to be medium density and it is ideal. I use 12mm thick.If you need A3, type 2 in quantity and ask for them to be uncut ie A3. Then, to be on the safe side, call them (contacts come up on google) and ask them to supply A3, instead of A4, just to be on safe side. They're real nice to speak to.

This comes off a roll and has a curved set on it. So, to keep it flat, what you do is, put the 10mm black mat you get with the press on TOP of the foam, and then get to work. Ok, you can't see the foam, but I scribed some guide lines onto my bottom plate for different sizes and when I line up the shirt, I know where the foam is under the mat, and I centre the shirt with a tape. Works perfectly. Less than 9 quid for an A4 sheet! They also cut any size from a roll but it looks more expensive than buying set sizes off ebay. Incidentally, I cut a say a 20mm 45degree chamfer around the edge like you would with vapor foam. Stops you getting a nice big press mark around design. Remember this when sizing your print.

But, Silex have other uses also. They sell silicone sheet rubber too. Well, I had problems with light streaks across the middle of my garments when printed. The paper was bunching up in the middle when I pressed it. I initially thought maybe it was something to do with having to condition the paper or something, but when I placed a straight edge across the bottom plate, I discovered it was warped by about 2.5mm in the middle (concave). So, I figured I needed a raised portion of rubber in the middle of the bottom plate to compensate.Trouble is, you effectively need a tapered piece of foam.You do this by building things up with foam and sheet rubber.

Mine is built up as follows and it presses perfectly now.
In the middle of the press where warp is largest, tape onto the bottom plate a piece of 2mm sheet of rubber about 150mm square.

Then tape a 2mm A4 sheet of rubber over this, centrally.
Then an A4 3mm sponge over this.
To effectively taper it, I taped a 50mm wide 'fence' around it made form 1mm rubber and then 3mm foam.

That's it. Simples. Great prints.

I have a grid scribed on my bottom plate and when I need to change from A4 to A3 or landscape to portrait, I sometimes have to turn stuff around. Takes a couple of minutes.

The 12mm foam that I use to keep the print area raised then goes on top of this. Then the black rubber mat holds it all together. If you have a different degree of warp, the you may have to play around with sizes and thicknesses. . It's a simple enough formula though - if you have light areas when you press, you need thicker and/or wider pieces, to get more pressure on that area.

It works really well. Ok, so maybe I should have bought a thousand quid press and a 15K printer and used sawgrass inks, and expensive paper, etc, etc but that would have bankrupted me and you know what, this cheapskate charlie set up produces some great vibrant t shirts which don't wash out even with the cheapest ink I could find. The bonus - and it didn't seem like it at the time is that I now have a pretty good understanding of what's going on under that shirt when I press it.
Have uploaded a pic of set up (I hope).
Hope this turns up in right forum. Can't see dye sub. The prefix says Regional.


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Hi Magpie14, very informative post!

May I ask, what pressure is your press set at? I am having awful trouble with platen marks and might give this solution a go. I have tried teflon pillows but to no avail.

Have found the sponge as you described, am very tempted to give it a go. Where you said '' I cut a say a 20mm 45degree chamfer around the edge like you would with vapor foam'', can you explain this further please? You'll have to excuse my lack of knowledge.


Basic problem is that you press the image onto shirt and it leaves a mark from edge of paper.
My set up when I want to print say A3 image is that I have Some foam UNDER the platen rubber, which is A3 minus 20mm all round This allows the garment to fall off the 'Press area'.

If you press like this, you will still get a little bit of a mark corresponding to A3 minus 20mm.
What you now do is cut a 10mm chamfer at 45 degrees all around the foam. Now when you
press, this allows a gentler pressure gradient and the paper falls over the edge with the garment. This gentler pressure gradient means no marks.
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Hi Kevin,

I have found some silicone sponge that is already showing better results in terms of platen marks (where the bottom bed is raised due to the sponge, the upper platen doesn't actually touch the garment = result!)

The chamfer, I assume, is so that the sponge itself doesn't leave any marks on the garment? My question is, how did you cut your chamfer, did you use a specific tool? I have attempted cutting one using a stanley knife but it really isn't working too well :p

Thanks again,

Spent ages cutting it with a knife and now getting no platen marks and no paper marks, a good print and didn't have to spend any money as we had some spongey stuff lying about in the end :D. Thank you for your help Kevin, much appreciated!!
I cut with a razor blade. My edges aren't straight either. It just lowers the pressure at the edge of the foam when you bring down the top platen. When you've been through this, it also helps YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE PRESS. Pleased it helped.
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