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If you are into a heat printing business, the lifeline of your business is your heat press machine. It’s the one unit that you use to create various products. As machines don’t last forever, even if they’re of the best brands, it’s important that you keep your heat press machine well cared for. To upkeep the reliability of your device, you’ll need to maintain it, which means you’ll have to do some cleaning regularly.
At times, you may also run into situations where your device needs cleaned immediately because some adhesive or ink may have stuck to your machine’s upper platen. You may have accidentally placed a printed transfer paper upside-down and now have a huge mess of ink on the top platen, or you may have tried to heat print a polypropylene bag at an excessive temperature resulting in a total mess from the melted plastic, or your machine is coated with dirt due to lack of maintenance. No matter whatever the situation is, there is always a way to clean your machine and keep it clean of debris, dirt, adhesive and ink.
Here are some tips that you can follow for cleaning your device after a heat press mistake, the platen looks dirty and old, and some preventive measures that you can take to protect your platens.
Cleaning the Heat Press
As the platens of your machine may be either coated with Teflon or non-coated, here is a step by step way to clean both types of platens.
Teflon Coated Heat Press
If your press has a coating on its upper platen or it’s Teflon-coated, follow the following steps:
- First, you must unplug the heat press from the electrical outlet. Then give the machine enough time to cool down.
- Mix a non-abrasive cleaner such as liquid hand wash or liquid dish soap with some warm water in a small bucket. Don’t use anything with grit as it may damage the coating.
- Now dip a clean rag or any other soft cloth into the mixture and wipe down your press platens with the rag.
- Take another piece of soft cloth and dip it in a bucket of clean cold water and use it to wipe away the soap residue on the platens.
- Finally, dry the heat press with a towel, and it’s all set for your next task.
Non-Coated Heat Press
If your heat press model doesn’t come with a coating, you should follow the steps outlined below:
- Unplug the heat press machine from the electric socket and allow it to cool down.
- You can use a cleaner that has some grit in it, such as light sandpaper, to help remove the residue from the platens effectively.
- You can also use some cleaning product and scrub it away onto your press platen vigorously using a cloth dipped in soapy water.
- Now plug the heat press back and let it heat up. With heat-resistant gloves on, scrub the remaining residue from the press. This way you will be able to eliminate anything that was not removed properly when your machine was unplugged.
- Now again turn off the press and allow it to cool down.
- Dip a rag in cold water and wipe the platen with it to remove the soap residue.
- Never panic. There is always a way to clean the mess, but managing the time is important. You would want to clean up the mess as soon as possible. The longer the ink or residue is on there, the longer it will cook and the harder it will be to get rid of.
- Turn off your machine immediately. This will prevent the heat platen from continuing to cook the residue and causing it to stick.
- Remember to wipe down the other parts of your heat press to eliminate dirt or fingerprints.
You should always think ahead and strive to prevent any accident from happening. If a mistake occurs, a lot of materials are wasted, so here are some useful tips to help you prevent wasting anything.
After cleaning up a mess, always do a test press with your machine before pressing the next project. This way you can make sure that no residual ink will be transferred over that could damage your final project.
Deep scratches on the Teflon coating result in patches of uneven pressure and heat on the press platen, which can cause uneven transfer of the image or design on the substrate. To keep the top platen scratch-free, avoid placing buckles, zippers, buttons or anything sharp on it. If necessary, use interchangeable lower platen to allow such objects to drape off of the machine when placing the transfer.
Use Teflon Sheet
If the upper platen of your heat press is not coated, you can use a Teflon cover or sheet to protect the top platen. The Teflon cover will protect your heat press platen from ink or dirt buildup and, if the cover gets dirty, it can be either cleaned or replaced at a very low cost.
However, if you use a Teflon cover over the top platen, you’ll be adding a layer between the transfer and the heat platen, so the Teflon will absorb some of the heat that was supposed to be delivered to the transfer. I decided to use a Teflon cover, keep in mind that you may need to set the temperature of your heat press a few degrees higher to compensate for the heat being absorbed by the Teflon cover.
Use a Lower Platen Cover
A lower platen cover is useful for keeping the silicon pad of the bottom platen clean and helps prevent the silicon pad from tearing down at the edges due to repeated loading and unloading of substrates.
- While using screen printed transfers avoid using thick non-stick covers or quick slip top covers. These sheets may work great for other transfers, but with screen printed transfers, the heat may not be sufficient if a layer is added between the heat and the transfer. If you really need to, then use a very thin paper cover sheet, specially designed for the purpose.
- Strictly follow the instructions mentioned on the transfer paper. Applying a temperature higher than the one recommended for a particular transfer could cause a big mess. Avoid this mistake by following the temperature instructions.
- Most of the mistakes causing a messy platen happen due to a distracted heat press operator. Always pay close attention while you are placing the transfer.
Sometimes your heat press just needs a regular cleaning to keep it looking and performing its best. With keeping it clean, you must also regularly apply grease to its pivot points to avoid unnecessary stress and follow the maintenance instructions so that your machine can give its best.