Key points of sublimation heat press

Sublimation is a chemical process that depends on molecular bonding. It requires precise heat-press settings for three aspects: time, temperature and pressure. A small variance in one of these parameters can affect image quality.
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Thus, you must choose a high-quality sublimation heat press that can deliver and maintain the necessary settings for every job, every time. The good news is they are available in different sizes, configurations and degrees of quality.
A heat press may look like an unsophisticated piece of equipment, but what you don’t see makes a difference when it comes to reliability and results.
All heat presses include programmable timers. Most automatically activate when the press is closed and a buzzer sounds when the time has expired so the operator knows to open it.
Some heat presses open automatically when time has elapsed. This may cause the transfer paper to slightly shift on the substrate and result in image “ghosting,” which can ruin the item being sublimated. If using such a heat press, consider disabling the auto-open feature. If you keep it enabled, ensure the transfer is properly secured to the substrate.
Most sublimation products require a constant temperature of 400°F for one minute. A variation of just a few degrees may affect the final image’s colors and details.
Heat presses consist of upper and lower platens. The former contains heating elements, whereas the latter supports the substrate during pressing. (Note: On some presses, both upper and lower platens are heated.) Quality heat presses have reliable heating elements that deliver accurate temperature with minor fluctuations (drifting).
In addition, the heating elements ensure the upper-platen temperature is consistent across the entire surface, thereby preventing “cold spots,” which can cause uneven color in a sublimated image.
Some heat presses use lower-quality elements that are spaced farther apart in order to lower costs. The price tag — and output quality — for these units can be significantly lower. For other applications, such as heat transfers, this may be suitable, but not for sublimation.
In addition to delivering heat, the upper platen also produces pressure on the substrate. It’s critical that the platen is flat, even and constructed of quality materials so that it doesn’t “give” during the pressing process.

Inconsistent or uneven pressure will affect sublimation quality, leading to color imbalance, imperfect details and possible ghosting.
Lower-quality heat presses tend to be made with less-substantial materials to save on cost. For most other applications, pressure is not a major factor, so an uneven platen will have little, if any, effect. But it is a critical aspect of high-quality sublimation.
When choosing a heat press for sublimation, focus on the size, shape and thickness of what you want to produce. Size obviously is a major factor, since the heat press must be large enough to completely cover the area being decorated. Curved items, such as mugs, require a different pressing methodology than flat items, and thick substrates require different solutions than thin ones. 
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