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Heat Press Guide Manual, Auto, and Air Operated Heat Press Machine

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 blog post we will be breaking down some of the different types of release functions for heat press. 

Manual Heat Press Machine

Manual heat presses are the most common type of heat press. A manual heat press requires the user to physically open and close the heat press when the timer goes off. There is no great difference in the results if you brought an automatic. But for the manual you would have to set up the variables appropriate temperatures, pressure, and time for the materials and medium you are pressing. 

The manual heat press is great for beginners. It familiarizes the user with heat and pressure setting for materials. Not only that manual heat presses generally tend to be cheaper easier when it come to long term maintence. 


Geo Knight 16" x 20"

Swinger DK20S

Heat Press

Geo Knight JP15

Jetpress 12" x 14"

Swinger Heat Press

HIX SwingMan 15

Swing Away

15" x 15" Heat Press


HIX SwingMan 20 Swingaway Heat Press



  • Great for starting out 
  • Gives practice of setting up, great for learning about pressures and heat settings you need. 
  • Lower initial set up cost and lower maintenance 
  • Manuals usually don't have a pressure gauge for you to take readings 
  • Dependent on user to keep track of heat time
  • Lower Volume Work

Automatic/Semi Automatic Heat Press Machine

Opens automatically, you set your timer for X seconds, you can start prepping your next shirt. When the timer goes off, the heat press releases. Automatic heat presses are great for doing large productions of t-shirts and great for people who want to do other things while their shirt is heat pressing.

If you are in a small or have other things to attend to the automatic can give you the peace of mind that you don't burn your heat pressed items, while attending to customers or family. 

Because of the auto release feature, you can increase the rate of production because you don't need to wait by the press to open it. So, users can be away from the press without worrying the garment or item will be scorched."

There are fully automatic and semi-automatic machines. A fully automatic heat press will close and open with a push of a button. Semi-Automatic machines requires you to close the press, but then it will automatically release upon opening. Semi-automatic machines usually don't require an air compressor. 



Insta Graphic 158

15" x 20"


Clamshell Heat Press

HIX S-450

15" x 15"


Heat Press

Geo Knight DK16A

14" x 16"

Auto Clamshell

Heat Press

Geo Knight DK16A Clamshell Heat Press HIX N-880 Clamshell Heat Press



  • Avoids scorching shirts and etc.  
  • Lower manual labor of the user, easier on your body  
  • Higher production yields
  • More expensive
  • Majority of them come in Clamshell, which limits your style options 


Air operated Heat Press Machine 

The air operated machines give the most pressure, meaning that it results in an even and higher quality application. Air operated machines are automatic. For most air operated machines you have to get an air compressor, which does add cost to your heat press set up. These machine also work well for high volume heat pressing. 

On the air operated machines you can set specific pressures. 

Geo Knight 16" x 20" 

Air Operated 

Swinger DK20SP

Heat Press

HIX N-880

16" x 20"


Heat Press

HIX N-680 

15" x 15" 


Heat Press


Geo Knight Air DK20SP Heat Press



  • Works with press of a button
  • Applies more pressure than a standard heat press. The more force, the higher the quality transfer. 
  • Work well for those doing high volume of pressing
  • Can set specific pressures and machine will adjust to the thickness  
  • More expensive
  • Does not include its own air compressor. 
  • Such units can be loud if you don't invest in a higher end air compressor.  


 If you are interested narrowing down your options check out our Heat Press collection pages: 

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