Checkout Secure
Free Shipping in the USA

Have a Question? Call Us


Mon-Fri 9am-6pm CST

Heat Press Buyer's Guide: Clamshell Heat Press VS Swing Away Heat Press

With so many heat press options for your business and hobby needs, it can be overwhelming to figure out what best fits your needs. In this guide series we will break down the things you need to consider, so you can figure out which heat press is best for you.  

There are a couple of considerations you need make before picking out a heatpress: 

  1. Size: How big a heat press should you buy? 
  2. Style: Should you get a Clamshell or Swing Away Heat Press?
  3. Materials: What are you planning to Heat Press (fabric, mugs, caps, etc) 
  4. Function: How the heat press releases. Manual, Auto Open, or Air Operated
  5. Volume: How many things are you planning to make with your heat press? 

In this article we will be breaking down all you need to know about the two most common heat press styles. We are going to break down the positive and negatives of the clamshell and swing aways heat press to see what best fits your needs and Heat Press set up. 

Clamshell Heat Press 

The Clamshell heat press style is named after clams because it opens and closes like a clam shell. The clam shell heat press have hinge between the upper and lower platen. This is one of the most common designs, the least expensive for heat presses, and a great entry level heat press. 


GeoKnight DK20 Clam Shell Heat Press 

HIX  Clamshell Auto Open Heat Press 

 Pros for Clamshell Heat Press

 Cons for Clamshell Heat Press

  • Great for beginners 
  • More portable 
  • Takes up less work table space. 
  • Least number of steps to operate
  • Cheaper to Swing-away counterpart of the same size 
  • Has less moving parts 
  • Limited layout area, harder than the swingaway to layout your work
  • Your hands work directly under the heat press to lay out your pressed item. So if you aren't paying attention, you risk getting burned.  

 Learn more, check out our Clam Shell Heat Press Collection. 

Clamshell Heat Press is for you if: 

  • You are a beginner or hobbyist looking into getting into Heat Press. Clamshells are cheaper and has less moving parts.  
  • Have very limited space to dedicate to your heat press station 
  • Need something more portable, for conventions or on the go heat press work.  
  • Planning to do mainly T-Shirts. 

1. Best Clamshell Heat Press for Beginners

Geo Knight DK16 14" x 16" Clamshell Heat Press 

The Geo Knight DK16 is easy to use unit that comes at an affordable price. The model is very compact, saving you space on your workstation or crafting area.  It is a portable heat press weighing in a 83 lbs, which is great for taking to events and expos. 
The DK16 is also a great starter unit with room for potential upgrade. You can add a twin station upgrade as well as a automatic release up grade for semi-automatic garment production. The size is perfect for users looking to get started into T Shirts and other apparel.  

With its solid steel frame work, Supercoil-Microwinding heater technology and high temperature read out accuracy and with a lifetime heat platen warranty, the GeoKnight DK16 is perfect heat press to help start your business and hobby into heat pressing. 

2. Best Clamshell Heat Press for  Hobbyist and Small Businesses

Geo Knight DK20 16" x 20" Clamshell Heat Press

The largest size clamshell, the DK20 is opened for full access to the lower bottom table. The frame support on this unit allows you to slide shirts over to the table with the complete drape space in the loading area. 
At 103 lbs, this unit is still quite portable to take to events and shows.
An upgrade to a larger bed will help you heat press smaller items and give the ability to heat press the full range of items that you would want. 
The Geo Knight DK20 is made with high quality SuperCoil-Microwinding heater technology that has a full digital temperature control of 32 - 600 F range. 
The DK20 is a great investment for a new small business specializing in apparel. 

3. Best Clamshell heat press for Business 

Hix N-880 16" x 20" Clamshell Heat Press

The HIX N-880 is the perfect unit for a higher volume shop. N-880 has a 16"x20" bed with an automatic air operated heat press that provide you with an efficient, consistent, and productive machine for your heat press needs. With an automatic air operated heat press machine, you can increase your output and stream line your heatpress operation. 
HIX N-880 is even on items up to 0.75" thick. This unit will give you the flexibility to heat press a wide range of items and also make it faster than a typical heat press, which makes it perfect for a larger business operation.   

Swing Away Heat Press 

The swing away heat press has a lower platen that pulls towards the user, so the user can lay out the work without reaching under the hot upper platen. Also known as the swing arm, the swing away is designed with three purposes in mind: 

  1. Made so the heating elements comes evenly and flat against the object/garment that is being imprinting, no matter the thickness.
  2. Easy to lay out lower work area to put your garment or objects that you want to heat press. 
  3. Made to get heating platen away from the user's hands when doing lay outs, thus eliminating the dangers of burns.  


Geo Knight Swinger DK20S Heat Press

HIX SwingMan Heat Press 

Pros for Swing Away Heat Press

 Cons for Swing Away Heat Press

  • Access to load materials and layout transfers. You have full view of the layout area. 
  • Heat free work space. Avoids touching heat platen.  
  • Even and Level Pressure 
  • Accommodates thicker materials 
  • Easier to use with trickier garments 
  • More steps to complete an applications 
  • More space required to accommodate swinging action
  • Heavier than the clamshell, therefore less portable 

Learn more, check out our Swing Away Heat Press Collection 

Swing-Away Heat Press is for you if: 

  • You want to work with thicker materials and thicker embellishments. If you plan to use your heat press beyond T-Shirts. 
  • You want high quality sublimation heat press jobs (where majority of the shirt is printed on). Since swing aways heat presses give you even and level pressure, it will give you a better print for items with large surface areas. 

1. Best Swing Away Heat Press for Beginners

Hix HobbyLite 9"x12" Swing Away Heat Press 

The HobbyLite is the perfect unit for anyone who is looking for a heatpress at a value price. The Hix HobbyLite is one the of lightest units we have at 19 pounds. It's is great for hobbyists, artists, schools and social organizations that are looking for a solid entry level heat press. 

The HobbyLite is great for beginners because your hands will not operate near the heat platen. A stop keeps the head from going to far when the platen is swung back to the left. 

With control over pressure and temperature, the HobbyLite is an easy to use unit that is perfect for beginners. 

2. Best Swing Away Heat Press for  Hobbyist and Starter Businesses

Geo Knight 16" x 20" Swinger DK20S Swing Away Heat Press

The DK20S is table top swing away heat transfer press.  The HIX DK20S provides a production-oriented heat press and fully digital temperature and time control. This heat press is a solid casting design with an affordable heat press price. 
The Geo Knight DK20SP gives you accurate and easy to use electronics and give you the best possible features and hardware needed for various types of heat press applications. 
The Geo Knight DK20SP heat press is one of the top and robust heat press machines. With 70 programmable presets, this swinger press accommodates materials up to 2" thick.

3. Best Swing Away Heat Press for Businesses 

HIX SwingMan 25 Twin Swing Away 20"x25" Heat Press

Looking to quickly product high quality large garments? Well, the HIX SwingMan 25 is perfect for you. This swing away heat press has two lower platens and is perfect for business because you can set up your next heat press while another one is pressing. This unit does twice the amount  the work in half the space of a regular swingaway press. 
One person can press a job and set another new job into place, so you can easily minimize the downtime of having to wait for the heat press to finish. At 20" x 25" this is the largest platen size! This size will allow you heat press clothing up to 4XXL. 

To check out specific models we highly recommend checking out the following two pages: 

Newer Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

How to Choose a Heat Press

Choosing a Heat Press

Watch How Easy Sublimation Wraps Work!

Sublimation Wraps

Don't Take Our Word For it! Here's What Our Customers Think:

Added to cart!
Get Free Shipping in the USA Everyday! Free shipping when you order over XX You Have Qualified for Free Shipping Spend $x to Unlock Free Shipping You Have Achieved Free Shipping Free Shipping For Over $x to Free Shipping in the USA You Have Achieved Free Shipping Free shipping when you order over XX ou Have Qualified for Free Shipping