Clamshell and Swing-away Heat Presses Review: Which one is better?

Differences between Clamshell and Swing Away Heat PressesDifferences between Clamshell and Swing Away Heat Presses

Clamshell and Swing-away Heat Presses Review: Which one is better?

Businesses that manufacture custom products like mugs, mouse pads, apparel, and other items rely on a heat press. Different models and styles for different products can make or break your projects. So, do you buy a clamshell or a swing-away style heat press? It depends on how it’s used that determines the best heat press for your office. 
In this article we will cover:

  • Clamshell heat press
  • Swing-away heat press
  • Comparisons of heat press models
  • Size and weight of heat presses
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Clamshell Heat Press

The clamshell heat press is made for applying heat-applied chemicals, such as ink or vinyl, to various surfaces, including cloth, ceramic tiles, and more. The most popular form of heat press is called a clamshell heat press because of the hinged top platen, which lowers down to the bottom platen to press the item, much like a clamshell does when it opens and shuts.

Companies that must mass-produce many products rapidly often choose clamshell heat presses because of their speed and efficiency. They are also an excellent option for companies with small spaces because they take up less room than other heat presses and are simple to store when not in use.

Swing-away Heat Press

Swing-away heat presses transfer inks, vinyls, and other heat-applied materials onto different substrates like cloth, ceramic tile, and more. The top platen of swing-away heat presses moves to the side, away from the bottom platen, making it simpler to access the pressing area.

Companies that need to press objects with unusual shapes, deep curves, or fissures may choose swing-away heat presses because they simplify reaching the full pressing area. Due to the swing-away design's increased space between the top and bottom platens, they are also a viable option for companies who need to press thick or large goods.

Heat Press Model Comparison

While clamshell and swing-away heat presses have various distinctions, their design is the most evident. An upper portion of a clamshell heat press opens and closes like a clamshell or a jaw.

In contrast, a swing-away heat press features a rotating pressing element lifted vertically and above the machine's bottom platen, then rotated to the side.

Footprint and weight

Clamshell and swing-away heat presses differ in that they take up different amounts of space. Due to the clearance required to swing the arm, swing-away heat press machines require a lot of room. A swing-away might work well for you if you have adequate room. 

A clamshell heat press may be a better option if your space is limited. It is small and doesn't take up a lot of room. There is no side movement since the heat press opens and shuts vertically. This makes it ideal for busy counter areas or point-of-sale positions. 

A clamshell press weighs less than a swing-away press.


With any heat press, safety must always come first. You will work with the heat between 200- and 400 degrees F°, using a clamshell or a swing-away heat press. However, the swing-away heat press is safer and more convenient because you don't risk scorching your knuckles. Because it is difficult to view the entire lower platen in clamshell machines, the hot upper platen might burn you. Therefore, if using a clamshell machine, always wear gloves.ear gloves.

Ease of Use

The exact alignment provided by swing-away heat press machines makes them more convenient. This is still possible using a clamshell, but this sole distinction is that swing-away presses are preferable when you need to combine more than two colors. They are, therefore, ideal for printing several outfits and jerseys. Make sure the clamshell you select is broad enough between 40 and 65 degrees.


The best heat press to use will rely significantly on its intended function. A swing-away press gives you greater flexibility if you want to work on various embellishments like heavier clothing, plaques, tiling, patches, and embroidery. High-end swing-away presses contain replaceable platens that let you press various items, including hats, totes, footwear, and gym bags.


Since they are more expensive to produce, swing-away presses are more expensive than clamshells. They may be costly initially, but they will endure for a decade or more and are well worth it. Clamshells are less expensive and still useful. They may possibly last you more than ten years if you maintain them properly. 


Have questions? Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions. Can't seem to find what you need? Feel free to get in touch with us! You can email us or call 1-800-944-4573.

What is the lifespan of a heat press machine?

10-20 years or a lifetime of use with minimal problems is possible with a heat press machine.

Can I change the temperature on a heat press?

The heat presses sometimes come with an LCD panel that effectively maintains temperature control.

How do I choose the best heat press?

The size of your workshop and the fabrics or materials you want to deal with should be considered when determining the heat press style. The pricing, adaptability, safety, and convenience of use should all be considered.

Which is the Best Heat Press?

Your tastes will determine whether you purchase a clamshell or swing-away heat press. Choosing the features and advantages that will best suit you will be simpler once you have compared the two computers. It should be simpler for you to choose the appropriate style now that you have a better knowledge of the distinctions between the two heat presses.

Have questions, or would you like a demonstration? Contact us at any time by calling 1-800-944-4573 or sending us an email