Heat Press Application Tips: The Right Pressure

by Peggy Elliott, Training

Accurate pressure is important for successful heat printing. Even, steady pressure ensures a strong bond between heat transfer vinyl adhesive and the item it is being applied to. Here are 7 things to remember about your heat press pressure so your apparel and other items have the most durable application possible.

Consistency is key

Pressure can difficult to maintain when using a manual press with several different operators. One person’s medium pressure may seem too firm to another. Using a heat press machine with a digital pressure display will ensure the best results every time.

Follow application instructions

Always follow the most up to date application instructions for the heat transfer vinyl you are applying as well as the item you are applying to.

Too much pressure can cause over-application sometimes driving adhesive out from the heat transfer vinyl so your final design is not properly adhered to the item you’ve decorated and may fall off. Not enough pressure can cause under-application, designs may not be fully adhered to the fibers of the garment and fall off.

Not just for heat transfer vinyl

Accurate, even pressure is especially important for screen printed transfers. The ink needs to adhere completely across the entire design.

  • Firm, stable lower platen is recommended.
  • Eliminate seams, or zippers use a rubber silicone (Print Perfect) pad.
  • Using soft heat printing pillows will result in a less than ideal application.


Threading a garment on your heat press allows you to drop seams, buttons, and zippers off the platen creating a smooth even surface for application with even pressure. Using a quick slip pad protector is a must have for this heat printing technique, making the process quick and easy. Threading the garment also reduces the need for extra accessories like heat printing pillows.

Platen size matters

When using a smaller platen, always re-check your pressure setting. More pressure is distributed when using an 8″x 10″ vs. a 16″x 20″ platen.

Check each new item

When moving from garment to garment, check the pressure. T-shirts aren’t as thick as fleece sweatshirt which means they will require you to increase the pressure.

Special Circumstances

Embossing is the process of stamping a design into a garment using a steel die and a heat press. This decorating method requires very high pressure, so an air automated press, like the air fusion is typically best.

Making sure your pressure is correct every time you heat apply will give you quality results you can rely on.



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2 thoughts on “Heat Press Application Tips: The Right Pressure”

  1. I have the Air fusion hot tronix which has vinyl already entered into the machine with the proper pressure showing a number. Sometimes I get a product that says to use medium pressure. How do I know what number to use?

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