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Heat Press Pressure Test: The Paper or Dollar Bill Test

You've probably noticed that heat transfer vinyl manufactures give recommendations on the amount of pressure to use when heat pressing heat transfer vinyl.

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Question is - how do know you what pressure you're actually pressing on? That's where the heat press pressure test comes in.

You may have heard rumblings of the dollar bill test - but the printer paper test is actually better to calibrate or get a baseline pressure on your heat press machine.

I'm going to show you how to do this by using my 15x15" HPN Signature Series from Heat Press Nation. I love this press because of the auto open and slide out drawer. But just know this heat press pressure test works on different styles and brands of heat presses as well. 

To test the pressure on your heat press grab a sheet of printer paper paper.  Place it so about 2" of the paper is on the machine and the rest is hanging off of the bottom platen.  Close and lock down the lid of the heat press.

If you're using an auto-open press like me, you'll have to turn the press on and set the timer to get the top plate to lock down for the test.  (There's no need to wait for it to warm up though.) You'll also want to make sure the bottom platen is not pulled out. 

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With two hands firmly pull on the paper. (If the paper slips at all, unlock the press and tighten the pressure knob by turning it to the right. Repeat the test.)

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Once the pressure is such that the paper does not move at all when tugged on, the pressure is correctly set.

Open the top platen and move the paper so it's hanging out one side.

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Close the top, lock the handle, and repeat the pull test.

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Repeat on the other side.

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When the paper has not slipped at all on all three sides - you have found what's considered medium-to-heavy pressure and your heat press machine is considered calibrated.

Use this baseline to adjust for other pressure requirements by turning the knob to the left (loose) for light pressure or further to the right for heavy pressure.

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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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