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Best Heat Press for Silhouette CAMEO Crafters

Rarely a day goes by when I'm not asked which heat press I recommend or which is the best heat press machine.

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The answer isn't the same for everyone - as it really depends on why you are getting a heat press and what is most important to you.

To help you decide which heat press is best for you, I've tried to narrow down the biggest factors that come into play when buying a heat press: budget, quality, customer service, size and features.

By the way, if you're trying to decide if a heat press is even worth the money this post will help you decide.  If you're debating between a clam shell heat press vs a swing away press this side by side comparison should help you narrow it down. If you've decided that yes a press is worth the money, and you've settled on the more popular clam shell style heat you're probably wondering which heat press is best for here goes!

Best Budget Heat Press

If you're looking to get a low cost heat press, the Fancier Studio Power Press is a good starter heat press on a budget. I purchased this 15x15" basic heat press more than three years ago on Amazon and the no frills press has been reliable for me. The price now hovers around $170-$180 depending on the color and the seller. A great first press for the home crafter.

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Pros: Low Cost, Free Shipping, Large Size

Cons: Lower Quality Parts, No Extra Features, No Customer Support

Quality Heat Press With Customer Service

If a higher quality heat press that comes with a warranty and customer service and support is more important to you than low cost, you can get a better built heat press machine with a few extra perks by spending a little bit more.

The 15x15 TransPro from Pro World ($299.99), which I also have, is the other higher quality heat press I'd recommend.  This one has a higher max temperature of 500 degrees and does have a floating top platen, which means it can be used for both heat transfer vinyl and sublimation.

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Pros: Better Quality Heat Press, Warranty, Customer Support, Large Size

Cons: Higher Price Point

Quality Heat Press With Extra Features

If you're looking for a little more in your heat press you may want to consider one with a few extra options such as auto open, a pull out drawer and/or a threadable lower platen.

A press that has a pull out drawer bottom platen combines the best of both a swing away heat press and a clam shell when it comes to safety during loading and unloading. A clam shell press takes up less room, but a swing away press allows the top platen to move out of the way while loading garments or heat transfer vinyl decals. A press with a pull out drawer, such as the 15x15" HPN Signature Series, does both.

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An auto open heat press gives you the freedom to walk away from the press knowing you won't accidentally over-heat or over press the heat transfer as long as the timer's been set (and this one has an auto-set timer). It's also ideal for those who may lack the strength to manually open and close a highly pressurized heat press.

A gas shock auto-open press that also includes an emergency release allows you to override the auto-open timer which is ideal for pre-pressing or tacking multiple layers of heat transfer vinyl without having to re-set the time for every press.

A threadable heat press allows you to slide shirts through the lower platen to prevent bunching and also to prevent front/back designs from being pressed multiple times.

For all of these reasons, the AutoOpen press with pull out drawer is a top pick on quality heat presses with extra features - both safety features and ease of use!

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Pros: Better Quality Heat Press, Automatic Open, Larger Size, Pull Out Drawer to Prevent Burns, Combines Attractive Features of Clam Shell and Swing Away, Warranty, Customer Support, Threadable (15x15 only)

Cons: Higher Price Point

8-in-1 Multi Function Heat Press

The best way to save space when needing multiple types of heat presses is to get an 8 in 1 heat press. A multi function heat press combines a traditional flat press with a mug press, cap press, and plate press saving space and usually - money. 

I have the 15 x 15" Swing Away 8 in 1 heat press from Swing Design and it has quickly become my go-to press for the amount of room it saves my in craft room. It includes 4 mug press attachments, 2 plate attachments and a hat press. Using this one press has allowed to me save surface space in my craft room by combining what previously was three different presses into one. 

With an 8 in 1 press you want to get a high quality press as there are a lot of different electrical parts. The attachments have a heating coil that attaches to the main control panel on the 15" swing away press which supplies heat and the time and temperature controls. 

The top platen of the 15" press is removed when the plate press is being used. Both the top and bottom platens are removed when the hat press is being used. The mug press attaches directly into the control panel and the platens do not need to be swapped out.   

I only wish the heating coil for the mug press was longer as you have to have use it really close to the main press in order for the mug press to reach and get heat. 

Pros: Multi function, Saves Space, Better Quality Heat Press,  15 x 15" Size, Swing Away to Prevent Burns, Warranty, Customer Support, Pretty colors, heats up quickly

Cons: Higher Price Point, Manual start timer

Heat Press Recommendations for Small Spaces or Portable Heat Press

If you don't have a lot of room for a heat press a 9x12" clam shell is a good option especially if you do mostly smaller items such as kids items. The 9x12" presses have a smaller foot print, are more compact, and don't weigh as much so they're easier to move. The 9x12" swing away has the same base size, but requires more side to side clearance because of the way the top platen swings out.

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My recommendation on a 9x12" clam shell is the HPN Black Series High Pressure press. Even though it's smaller in size it still includes a lot of the attractive features the larger higher quality heat presses include easy-open/close, even pressure across the entire 9x12" heating area, customer service and support, and a warranty.

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If you don't have room at all for a heat press - for instance you craft in your dining room or in a camper - but are looking for something that will provide a better press than an iron, the Circut EasyPress is a great heat press alternative. Given the price point, I would only recommend the EasyPress if you do not have room for a full size heat press or you truly need one you can travel with (think custom pressing at craft fairs) You can read my full review of the Cricut EasyPress here.

Pros: Small Size, Compact, More Portable

Cons: Small size platen may require multiple presses on certain items, Not always at a lower price point

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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  1. I think this Cricut easy press is perfect for small like mine. I dont6have room for a bi heat press.I like that idea it can be put away. Good luck everyone

    1. Me too Tracy! Currently my space is very limited and my husband gave me the Cricut Heat press for an anniversary gift. So far I am pleased! Thanks Melissa for the comparisons as this will help when I'm ready to upgrade.

  2. What is the name of the small, curved one in your picture? Looks like it is just for caps or other round objects? (:

  3. Thanks for the wonderful information! Have you ever tried a multi-purpose unit that can be used for flat items, hats, bottles, etc.?

  4. I've been debating about heat presses for a little while now. Unfortunately, its the cost and customer support I have concerns about yet as I am not near a big city or craft store to get assistance. Your Pros and Cons were informative so at this time I'm leaning more towards the cricut heat press as it is compact. My daughter in law and I have cut out vinyl and applied them with a standard iron unfortunately the garments didn't with stand the wash and dryer to what you can buy in the store or online. It's been a large investment with the supplies so far just to get started. An opportunity to win this unit would be great. I can see this being very useful to commute between both daughter in laws and making things for the grand kids. Again, thank you for your tutorials, tips, tricks and cricut for the give away!

  5. Thanks for the comparison Melissa. Always wanted a heat press but didn't know what feautures to look out for. Would luv the cricutas i to no longer have a dedicated area to create in; and it looks oh so sassy!

  6. Love my Silhouette but must admit, the Cricut EASY PRESS is the best. Compact, works perfectly and a lot less money.

  7. Thank you for your professional analysis about the hot press. This is very helpful for me to choose a hot press.

  8. I've been looking online at these and on a few sites it says you need the cricut air to use it. I have a cameo and was wondering if it really mattered what cutting machine you have. ( As far as I'm aware it doesn't connect to the cutting unit anyway, right?) It is a stand alone unit, under the cricut brand? So maybe that was just their way of getting you to buy the cricut through a link on their site?. Just a thought.

    1. Definitely not :) You can use whatever cutter you want with any of the heat presses.

  9. Do you know when they will get more of the 8 in 1 STARCRAFT Heat presses in?

    1. Hi there! I'm sorry, I don't, but definitely sign up for the email notifications!

  10. Hi Melissa. Thanks for this post, very helpful. Looking at Swing Design website I could not find any difference between their Starcraft 8 in 1 vs their Pro 8 in 1. Same goes for their regular 15x15 Starcraft vs PRO. Would you happen to know?

  11. I am looking for a good but inexpensive heat press for tshirts for our school. Which would you recommend? I am on a fixed income so cost is very important. Thanks!!

    1. Hey there, the budget heat press above is going to be a very solid bet!

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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