Does Hotronix Make the Best Heat Press Machines?
When it comes to heat press machines, Hotronix is one the best names in the business. For many professionals producing large orders of customized t shirts and other products, they wouldn’t trust any other brand. But do Hotronix products live up to the hype? In this article, we’ll examine why this company has acquired their reputation for quality, compare different products, and give you the information you need to pick the Hotronix heat press that is right for your needs.
An offshoot of the Stahl’s company, the Hotronix brand dates back to the 1980s, when the company set out to solve a series of problems common with heat press machines available at the time. Earlier designs had problems with maintaining consistent high temperatures. Problems with cold spots and uneven pressure on the press, as well as imprecise timers where widespread in the industry.
The Stahl company hired Ron Anderson, a heat press industry veteran, to design a machine that could solve all these problems, but still be offered at a reasonable price. The result of their research and development was the birth of the Hotronix brand; an affordable heat press machine that consistently produced high-quality prints, and was simple and easy enough for anyone to use with minimal training.
Designed and manufactured in the US (Carmichaels, Pennsylvania), these superb machines have acquired a well-earned reputation over the decades for superior quality, durability and reliability. Hotronix remains the leading heat press manufacturer in the world, with over a BILLION t-shirts printed with their products every year.
Impressive? Sure. But what, specifically, makes them stand out, when there are so many brands and models of heat presses to choose from?
What makes Hotronix Different
Decades of expertise. Stahl, the parent company of Hotronix, more or less invented the modern heat press industry. In the 1930s, team sports were as popular as ever, and there was growing demand— even in the midst of the Great Depression— for special shirts with professional athletes’ names and numbers on them. In 1932, A.C. Stahl and Ethel Stahl (a husband and wife) launched a family business out of their garage in Detroit, MI, specializing in lettering, chenille and decorating for textiles. They would go onto become one of the world’s leading providers of precut clothing, logos and custom apparel— a tradition they continued when Hotronix opened its doors in 1986.
Hotronix has been (and still is) at the forefront of innovation in the heat press industry. They have been responsible for developing many industry-first features found in modern heat presses, such as:
- Cast-in tubular heating elements to ensure that heat is evenly distributed throughout the heat platen and prevent cold spots
- Digital pressure, time and temperature displays
- Touch screens
- Auto-Swing and Auto-Opening designs
- Multiple time settings & Programmability
- Over-the-Center pressure adjustment (to ensure that the pressure is consistent across the whole platen) and auto-adjust pressure features
- Threadability™ design that allows the user to print on both sides of a garment without re-dressing the platen. This innovation has been found to lower production time by as much as 40%!
As it stands right now, Hotronix holds 44 patent and and patents pending. These innovations, allow users to produce a high volume of products without having to sacrifice high quality.
What else makes Hotronix stand out?
Superior design. Each Hotronix heat press is manufactured in the United States with world-class laser-cutters, CNC turning centers, and a staff of expert technicians and machinists who make sure that each product the comes out of the factory meets the standards this brand has become known for. Each heat press is also UL, CE, RoHS and ULC-certified to be compliant with global safety standards.
Same-day shipping. When you order, it leaves their warehouse the same day. The company also has a global network of distribution centers to makes sure their products to their destination in a timely manner.
Variety. There are many different Hotronix heat press models to choose from. From simple clamshells to more sophisticated swing models with larger platens, there is something to fit all needs and budgets.
Customer support. There’s one another major perk that Hotronix offers to their customers: lifetime tech support— for free. If you’re running a business and something goes wrong with one of your Hotronix heat presses, you can call up their tech support line and they’ll help you find a solution, even if you purchased the press years ago.
Which is the Right Hotronix Heat Press for You?
It really depends on what your goals are and how many products you need to produce. Let’s take a look at the features and benefits of some of the most popular Hotronix products.
Hotronix 11’’ X 15” Auto-Open Heat Press
This basic heat press from Hotronix is an excellent choice for beginners or experienced users with simple projects. When the time runs out and the heating is complete, it simply pops back open automatically— hence the name. This model can be used with items up to 1-inch thick, and includes a timer that automatically resets when the device is opened, as well as an optimized lower platen design for quick and easy changes. If you just want a reliable, stress-free experience using a heat press, you cannot go wrong with this one. You can check out our detailed review of the Hotronix 11”x 15” model here.
Hotronix 16” x 24” Auto-Open Clam
This larger 16”x24” model features Hotronix’ exclusive “Lightening Latch” design which allows you to change the lower platen in as little as 15 seconds. The clamshell design is simple and easy to use, and it comes with the same great quality and warranty as their other products. The Auto-Open Clam series also comes in 16” x 16” and 6” x 6” sizes, and all models are available in either 110v or 220v.
Hotronix Fusion Heat Press
This might just be the best heat press on the market today. It’s called the “fusion” because of its unique design which combines the swing-away style with a draw press. If you have a lot of open space, you can swing it to the side for an unobstructed view and access to the shirt. If you prefer a draw-style, you can just pull it forward.
It’s threadability feature allows you to thread thicker garments around the plate, avoiding obstruction from buttons, zippers and seams (see video below). You can quickly swap out different sized lower platens, and rotate the platen once it is in place. Its superior versatility makes it perfect for not only handling t-shirts, but thicker garments like hoodies and jackets as well.
Its programmable features allow you to put it in “sleep” mode, even for days at a time, saving you money on electricity. You can also program it to “wake up” a certain time of day, so it’s ready to go when you resume working hours (for example, put it to sleep on Friday afternoon and program it to wake back up at 9 AM on Monday morning).
Simply put, the Fusion is smarter, more versatile and better designed than practically any other heat press you can buy. Check out out full review here
Hotronix Air Fusion
The Hotronix Air Fusion includes many of the features that make the Fusion so great, but with a slightly different twist. Rather than utilizing a traditional countertop design, it is mounted up on legs. It also does not have the pull-out drawer of the standard Hotronix Fusion. The Air Fusion is a swing-away design operated by a foot pedal, and the actual pressing process is automated. You simply program in the commands, and the press does its thing, making it slightly faster than the standard Fusion with its conventional, manually-operated lever design.
The Hotronix Air Fusion includes many of the same benefits as the Fusion, but its different design may make it a good alternative depending on your space requirements and preference for automation. Read our full review of the Air Fusion here.
Hotronix VS Other Brands of Heat Presses
We’ve established that Hotronix heat presses have a reputation for quality. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only game in town. How do they stand up against the competition?
The two other major American brands of heat presses are GeoKnight and Hix. These two companies (based out of Massachusetts and Kansas, respectively) design and manufacture their products in the United States as well, and over the years have also gained a reputation for quality.
There are also foreign brands and used heat presses which can be cheaper. If your budget is tight and it’s all you can afford, then maybe a foreign or second hand heat press is enough. But if you intend to make a lot of shirts, or you’re doing this for business, don’t cheat yourself. It pays to invest more in a better product upfront and get it right the first time.
Based on our testing and research, Hotronix consistently comes out at the head of the pack in almost every category. The bottom line is that Hotronix makes some of the best, if not THE best heat presses in the business. The pros who are making real money selling customized apparel and other goods are all using Hotronix.