Frequently Asked Questions
At HIX, we have been producing heat transfer machines, screen printers, ovens, and dryers for over 50 years. During that time, we have received many questions from customers who need advice. In most cases, we probably have answered your question. Please scroll through this offering of FAQs, and you quite possibly can find the answer to your question. If not, please feel free to contact us through the form on our Contact Us tab.
Thanks for choosing HIX.
DRYER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What type of dryer do I need?
This depends on the types of ink/substrate combinations that your shop produces, available floor space, required output during peak demand, available electrical installation, geographic location and elevation, price of electricity versus gas, availability of natural gas or LPG, etc.
If I decide on infrared only, what should I look for?
Avoid dryers with quartz tubes. They create intense heat (because of short I.R. wavelength) and thus are sensitive to substrate and ink colors. Fabric can come out scorched although the ink is still wet. Look for dryers that have elements which generate long infrared wavelength in the 3-5 micron range.
What if I use solvent/water based and /or discharge inks?
An infra-air dryer would then be necessary. All evaporates must be removed before a successful cure or discharge can occur. In these cases, a good ventilation system is a requirement.
What about a convection dryer?
The best way to cure textiles would be jets of hot air. This form of heat is completely color-blind, meaning that within the same time-span, it would cure dark and light colors equally well. It would not likely scorch even the most delicate substrates. Convection dryers are unfortunately very expensive to purchase and operate. Moving air over heat rod or finned heating elements is not the most efficient mean of heat transfer and is therefore reserved for environments where infrared panels would not be adequate. Infra-air (a combination of infrared panels and forced-air circulation) is a more affordable and economical compromise.
How can I determine dryer efficiency?
Place your hand on top, or better yet, over the exhaust. If you can’t leave it there, the dryer if poorly designed and badly insulated. The best check is a digital thermometer. Set the probe under a shirt. Does the temperature climb steadily and plateau? If the temperature fluctuates while passing through the heat chamber, this indicates cold spots. Cold spots mean more dwell time, more energy consumed to achieve a proper cure, and more money spent!
How can I be sure that I have achieved a total cure on plastisol inks?
A reliable test can be done by placing temperature strips on the shirt. Temperature strips are designed to indicate the maximum temperature reached by gradually discoloring on a value-scale.
Consult HIX to supply the correct temperature strips, and consult you ink supplier for the correct temperature the ink requires in order to cure.
HIX offers both back and side clamps. Side clamps create a much stronger platform by holding the screen away from the back. The screen corners are the weakest point on a screen, and back clamps do not support the corners. If there is a small amount of movement or flex (particularly in wood frames), the corners tend to give. This also affects the registration. Additionally, during the course of printing a job, simply stopping the rotating screens too abruptly can knock a back clamped screen out of registration.
Why are aluminum shirt platens better?
Aluminum is a very stable and durable material for manufacturing a part of the printer that is exposed daily to extreme conditions, such as flash cure temperatures of up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, spray adhesives, and cleaning solvents. Aluminum will maintain a flat and uniform printing surface, even after continuous exposure to these extremes. Other materials (such as wood laminates used in shortboard construction), can warp, scorch, and delaminate rapidly after exposure to flash cure and the daily wear and tear of production. Ask about upgrading your HIX printer with aluminum shirt platens. Different sizes and applications are available.
Why gas springs and not metal springs for screen lifting devices?
Metal springs are inexpensive return devices. Due to the high tension of metal springs, the operator must wait until the screens have returned fully to the “up” position before letting go and rotating the screen to the next color. Early release of a metal spring lifted screen can launch the squeegee and ink across the room. In addition, the jarring motion of the sudden stop can throw the screen out of registration. Metal tension springs require the operator to wait on the machine, unlike the gas spring screen lifting system. Gas springs allow for controlled and expedited lifting of all screens from the print surface. At the end of a print stroke, the operator simply begins the lift of the screen and lets go of the screen while simultaneously rotating. As the color-heads rotate, the last color printed will continue to automatically lift out of the way. This feature saves 1 to 3 seconds per print per color.
Why is micro registration standard on HIX presses?
Micro registration devices are inexpensive and easy to use. It is now a standard feature on all HIX printers. It is offered as a selling tool and an aide to register improperly burned screens.
Always refer to the transfer or transfer paper manufacturer’s recommendations. Light, medium and heavy pressure can be adjusted by turning the pressure adjustment knob on the back of the machine. The digital pressure readout is a number from 1 to 9 (9 being the highest pressure).
Tip: You can use the dollar bill test or use an old T-shirt and one transfer cut into strips to test various pressure settings to determine which pressure setting works best for your transfer application. Place a dollar bill partly on the lower platen, close the press, and try to pull away the bill. If it can be removed easily, the pressure setting is low. If it is impossible to remove, the setting is high. Progressive resistance refers to increasing pressure.
Why does the lower platen move/pivot?
These machines come with what’s referred to as “floating lower platens.” The purpose of the floating lower platen is to adjust to different thicknesses of substrates by perfectly aligning the upper and lower platen and create even pressure across the surface of the substrate.
How many transfers can I do in an hour?
It will vary, depending on the operator, the substrate, and the dwell time recommended by the heat transfer/paper manufacturer.
Example: 10 seconds load time + 10 seconds dwell time + 10 second unload time = 30 seconds [or 2 cycles/min] x 60 [minutes in hour] = 120 transfers per hour.
How much pressure will they make?
There is lot of confusion in the industry over the concept of pressure needed to successfully complete a transfer. Transfer manufacturers may call for “high pressure,” “medium pressure,” “60psi,” etc. Most of these requirements (but not all) refer to pressure on the working surface (the lower platen). This is different from pressure needed to close the transfer machine (manual operator pressure or pneumatic pressure provided by an air compressor). It is also different from the press’ total clamping pressure (the manual operator force or pneumatic force leveraged by the clamping construction of the press).
For the 400/450/600 and 650 models, average operator clamping pressure can be estimated at about 20 lbs of locking pressure. Because of the machine’s constructional leverage mechanism, this translates into a total platen clamping force of 600 lbs. Corrected for the number of square inches of the lower platen (225 for the 400/450, 320 for the 600/650), this translates into a working-surface pressure of 1.9 pounds per square inch (psi) for the 600 & 650 models and 2.7 psi for the 400 & 450 models. This is sufficient for most if not all commercial transfers on the market.
Can I damage my press?
Yes, common ways the machines are damaged are by not performing proper maintenance (see owner’s manual), applying too much pressure, or misusing the machine. Each machine is built for an intended use and a related production level. Exceeding that suggested level of usage will reduce the expected lifetime of the press and accelerate the mechanical wear-and-tear.
How thick of a substrate can I do?
The HT-400 and S-450 will accommodate substrates up to 1 inch thick. The HT-600 and S-650 will accommodate substrates up to 1/2 inch thick.
How much time can I set it for?
The digital timer can be set up to 99 minutes, 59 seconds. The preset function on the touch-screen timer allows for preset times of multiple jobs, allowing the operator to simply toggle between preset jobs, each with a linked time and temperature setting. The touch-screen controller also has a dual-time setting where a 2-step job can be programmed, each with a different time setting (e.g. vinyl transfers or pre-press jobs wher, in a first step, the substrate is pressed for just one or two seconds, then in a second step get properly transferred).
Can it do ceramic type plates?
Yes, to transfer onto plates you will need to have a “plate puck” (a high temp silicone pad cut to shape of plate transfer area). We can make these in 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2”. We will need a template from the customer before we can provide a quote. You will need to make sure the thickness of the plate (highest area on plate, usually the lip) fits within the maximum thickness of the machine (HT-400 and S-450 max 1 inch, HT-600 S-650 max 1/2 inch thick). The plate puck fits inside the curve of the plate over the transfer. The plate puck should be slightly thicker than the recess of the plate. You may need two pucks in some cases.
Note: For these type of non-textile jobs, always use a pad protector to protect the machine’s silicone pad as well as a PTFE transfer sheet to protect the upper heat casting during transfer.
This is called the water trap also called the ¼” NPT Air Filter Bowl.
Do I need a water trap? Why?
Definitely. When compressed, the air also compresses humidity into moisture droplets. Compressed air may also contain dirt particles from the compressor components. When the moisture and dirt are kept out of the internal components (vales and gauges), the machine will last longer.
Is a gas spring in the machine?
No. The N-680 and N-880 have an air cylinder to provide the automatic lift, which lasts longer and is recommended for high volume users.
How thick is the substrate this machine can transfer on?
On air-operated machines, we recommend substrates no more than ¾- inch.
Note: Air automatic machines can be retrofitted with a Shuttle Attachment (see accessories). When using a Shuttle Attachment on the N-680 or N-880, the attachment reduces this substrate allowance to just ¼” and should therefore be considered only for textile applications.
Why would I need an air-automatic heat press?
The N-680 and N-880 air-automatic machines have an easy one-step pressure setting. Dial in the pressure setting on the gauge once and for all, then never touch the settings again during the entire job. It will adjust itself to whatever thickness of the substrate. Manual machines need to have the pressure adjusted for each substrate with a different thickness. Air-automatic transfer machines are also great in high volume shops because they reduce operator fatigue by closing easily and opening automatically, even when the operator is not present.
What type and size of air compressor do I need?
At a minimum, you will need a 1 Hp Air Compressor with a 3-gallon tank capacity providing about 100-125 psi of clean air (void of water and oil) at 1 ½ to 2 CFM. Hook it up to the ¼” NPT air inlet on the machine.
Note: If you undersize your air compressor, it will run continuously and burn out.
Where do I get air fittings?
Air fittings can be found at your local auto parts or hardware store or can be ordered directly from Hix Corporation.
How many presses can I run off one compressor?
Using the recommended 1 Hp/3 gallon tank, you can operate a maximum of two machines. Each machine requires at least 100 psi to work properly.
How long/big should my air line be?
The air line should be 3/8” in diameter and no more than 25 feet long.
How fast is the clamping pressure reached?
The N-680 and N-880 reach their clamping pressure in about 3 seconds.
Can one person operate two machines?
Yes. While one machine is transferring, the operator can be loading/unloading the other machine.
Tip: This works best for transfers which require dwell times of 10 seconds or more.
What is Fully Automatic vs. Air- Automatic?
Fully Automatic – the operator loads the lower platen with the substrate, pushes start buttons and the press cycles automatically to the pressure step – when the process is complete the head rises automatically and the operator peels the transfer, unloads and starts the process again.
Air-Automatic – the compression and opening part of the cycle is simply aided by compressed air. Part of the cycle (such as initiating the cycle) have to be done manually.
Which machine should I buy?
The N-680 and N-880 are best suited in a high-production environment. It is also used in places with less experienced personnel, as well as for people looking for easy-to-operate equipment. The N-880 is built both in a 120V and a 220V version. The 220V version is used for high-production units where quick heat recovery between cycles is key.
What is the pre-press button on the N-680/880 machines for?
The pre-press button is to pre-heat the substrate, to warm the pad on the lower platen, to press wrinkles from substrates being transferred, and to stop the machine in mid cycle without having to turn off the machine completely.
For shirts/garments that are flat and flexible (mouse pads), clamshell presses are best. They require less counter space, less manpower movement (straight down, straight up), and are therefore the fastest of the manual presses. SwingAways can be used in more applications beyond these listed above. They can handle thicker, rigid substrates like tiles, plastic, metal, glass, and plaques, allowing the customer to press down vertically onto the work surface. SwingAways are not as well suited for high production garment because they take 10 – 15% longer to swing the head away and back.
I’ve heard SwingAways are best for lettering and numbers.
The SwingAway press swings totally away from the lower platen, allowing for precise layout of letters/numbers appliques, rhinestones, and more as they allow the operator to press down vertically onto the work surface.
Why are SwingAways better for rigid substrates?
Normally, SwingAway presses close vertically whereas Clamshell presses close with a pinching movement, hitting the back of the lower platen before touching the front. HIX has overcome this disadvantage by creating the “floating lower” platen. With a floating (or self-adjusting) lower, the platen adjusts itself by pivoting the lower platen to align evenly with the upper platen.
Can I gang tiles?
Absolutely. Tile designs can be laid out up to one inch of the platen size of the press. Our 20” x 25” models will take a 3 wide x 4 deep 6”x6” tile and press all at once.
What is the reason for a SwingAway Twin press?
Our 16×20 and 20×25 SwingAway presses come in “TWIN” Models. These presses speed up production by allowing the operator to layout the design on one side while the other side is pressing. When done, the operator opens the press and swings the heated platen over the second lower to press a design while preparing a design on the now available lower platen.
Yes – the front of the 5 Panel Cap has no seam running down the middle; therefore, you can easily transfer onto the cap front.
Tip: Keep all transfers 3/8” away from seams.
Can I transfer onto a 6 Panel Cap?
Yes – but because of the seam running down center of front of cap, you will need to separate your transfer or flock design to avoid trying to transfer into the seam. Remember – separation must be 3/8” away from seam (both sides of seam).
Are the lower platens interchangeable?
Yes, there are three different sizes available – Youth Cap, Golf Cap, and Ball Cap. The Youth Cap platen measures 2 ¾” x 5 ¼”; the Golf Cap platen measures 3” x 5 ½”, and the Ball Cap platen measures 3 ¾” x 5 7/8”. The B-250 transfer machine comes standard with the Golf platen, which can be replaced with any of the other two sizes at the time of purchase.
What is the PTFE Blanket used for?
It helps prevent movement of your transfer while lowering the heat head. It also helps prevent scorching of the nylon and poly fibers and sticking of the transfer to the platen. If applying adhesive-backed patches, it keeps the adhesive from oozing out and onto the heat head. It also helps keep the edges from curling up after the heat head is raised and the adhesive is cooling.
How do you adjust the pressure? Where is the pressure adjustment located?
A small “thumb” type adjustment control is located on the back of the cap stem. Turning the wheel lowers and raises the cap (decreasing and increasing pressure).
How much pressure do I need?
Time, temperature, and pressure for transfers vary, depending on the transfer you are using. Please follow the directions provided by your heat transfer/heat transfer paper manufacturer for specific instructions.
Tip: Always experiment when using a new supply of caps or transfers to get the best results.
How do I load a hat in my press?
Place the back of the cap under the spring-tensioned hold down, pull the inside liner (also known as the linger or sweat band) out against the bill of the hat, slide the cap over the lower platen, and pull to snug on the platen.
Tip: Make sure the bill of the cap and cord is clear of the platens.
Can you do sleeves and pockets using the Cap Press? What else?
Although the Cap Press is designed primarily for caps, it can do sleeves and pockets, as well as visors, socks and under garments. The FH-3000, which is a 3-3/4” x 6” flat press, is perfect for the other small items beyond hats. Both presses are also good for the application of care labels, small logo’s on pockets or neck.
The Shuttle Attachment attaches to existing drilled holes in the frame of the N-680D & N-880D machines. The Shuttle allows operator to lay out the next substrate while the current layout is being pressed. When the first substrate is done, the user slides the shuttle and begins the transferring process for the prepared substrate. This process is continued until the user is ready to stop! A side benefit is the operator can work outside of heat area, thereby remaining cool.
How do I increase my production?
The Shuttle Attachment is one way to increase your production. It offers two workstations using one machine. (The Shuttle Attachment can be used on only the N-680/880 Machines.)
What is the PTFE Sheet and Pad Protector used for?
The PTFE sheet is used as a barrier between the garment and heat platen. The PTFE sheet helps protect your garment from scorching and protects your heat platen from inks and residues that can transfer to your garment later if the sheet is not used. The Pad Protector is used to protect the pad on the lower platen from transfer bleed-through, oils, dust, and dirt. It also aids in sliding garments on and off the lower platen easily.