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TrackHawk707

Heat foam for hat press

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Hey guys so my hotronix hat press came in and I was extremely happy up until I pressed my first hat. It was a foam hat and I did exactly what I was reading. (This was for sublimation) I placed my print lined it up and threw heat tape on it with no Teflon (which another bad idea) I don’t know why they tell you not to use it  but some ink got on my heat platen and you’ll see it on my white hat below. Craft paper should probably have been used. but anyway so now the press completes and it has markings from the heat tape and a box around the print from the paper. I figured I needed more of a firm base so I didn’t get bent out of shape I ordered Teflon pillows and still getting creases in the hats I tried different pressures but did stay around the area pressure you should be at when applying subs and or vinyl.

If anyone has any feedback I’d appreciate the help. I will attach some photos and maybe just let me know what you think. The red hat creased in the middle and the gray and white foam hats I’m sure you’ll see the marks. (Gray hat done with no pillow) everything else had the pillow. I looked for a firm heat safe foam but can’t seem to find anything safe for heat up to 400 degrees. One hat came out perfect and I think cause it’s a different style hat. 

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For the sublimation work I would make the print so that there was enough open area on each side and probably above the crown that the edges of the paper won't create a crease and the tape can be applied so it isn't even under the heat. Just a longer strip if that makes sense. It will waste a little sublimation paper but in that scenario that is what I would do. I never tried to sublimate a hat but other than the problem you are finding the sub job looks awesome. 

One thing I do on most of my hats is as soon as I put a pre-press to it for a few seconds I then lift the heat and work the hat to stretch it a little and make it conform to the platen a little better so it doesn't get the creases. I have never pressed on a foamy so they may not conform but most regular structured hats will. 

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always, always use butcher paper or similar protective paper over the project.  You are correct that the ink in gas form attached to your platen and causing that red ghosting.  cheap roll of butcher paper (uncoated) from sams, costco etc last a LONG time and saves your press

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funny you say that goose. I legit cut it to size so that it was easier to line up perfectly. lol welp your idea is a home run much rather do that then have markings. even if it takes a little longer to center. thank you on the compliments the foam hats are super comfortable and the prints are nice and bright! the pre-press your talking about I do but I never thought to try and move it and confine it after the small press. I feel like i need to get more platens this one leaves a big gap in the center so unfortunately i don't think it will work but I'm def going to try. 

& Dakota yes I think I saw something on paper but figured if teflon was no good to use don't cover it but now I'm little mad at myself for getting this on my platen. I have some ez off think it could work? I never had to use it before so not really sure how to tackle that.

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I am not sure what takes the sublimation ink off a platen - you can try the easy off or even some rubbing alcohol first - if hotronix the platen is probably covered in a coating anyways but this is how we learn, there has to be a couple of missteps in the process.  we all do it and continue to make mistakes even years later.   forgetting to mirror htv will be the one that returns for years

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11 hours ago, Dakotagrafx said:

I am not sure what takes the sublimation ink off a platen - you can try the easy off or even some rubbing alcohol first - if hotronix the platen is probably covered in a coating anyways but this is how we learn, there has to be a couple of missteps in the process.  we all do it and continue to make mistakes even years later.   forgetting to mirror htv will be the one that returns for years

Lmao yes the mirroring method! I done it so many times in the past that I think I finally got it down now. Appreciate the help I’m going to try tomorrow. The hotronix is coated from what my directions / info says so that’s good to know. Do you guys know of any firmer pillows or foam or do you guys just not use them at all? The pillows are better then nothing but still gets under my skin I can’t get these hats super smooth for a nice perfect press even after pre press and pulling it more. 

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I defer all hat questions to goose or those that do lots more than I ever did - I sold my hat press years ago.  Juice wasn't worth the squeezing in my area

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14 hours ago, TrackHawk707 said:

Lmao yes the mirroring method! I done it so many times in the past that I think I finally got it down now. Appreciate the help I’m going to try tomorrow. The hotronix is coated from what my directions / info says so that’s good to know. Do you guys know of any firmer pillows or foam or do you guys just not use them at all? The pillows are better then nothing but still gets under my skin I can’t get these hats super smooth for a nice perfect press even after pre press and pulling it more. 

Hats are fickle. I mostly use my "kids" platen as I have stated before which is called the Allstar now. It's only 2-3/4" tall so the designs have to be no more than about 2-1/2" and I try to maintain more like 2" to 2-1/4" just for easier placement. The foam hats look like they have room for taller platen. The standard platen is 3-1/2" and that seems to be just a little too tall to allow the crown to settle down on most of the hats I sell or at least the smaller one is a LOT easier to get them to lay flat. The extra platens are pretty pricey and I think you have to go directly to the stahls website to get them. AND they aren't cheap. 

For me the secret is the smaller designs and choosing hats that fit my press better (and steering my customers to those styles of hat). Never tried a pillow on there and I don't see how it would be very productive to try and get it all stuffed in there and settled down. I just pre press them and then vigorously stretch the hat so it lays as flat as I can get it to the lower platen. Some edges tend to roll off and as long as your design doesn't lay over the edges that won't hurt anything. Having the print loaded hold down is really nice and I would hate to try and get a consistent job without it. 

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5 hours ago, Wildgoose said:

Hats are fickle. I mostly use my "kids" platen as I have stated before which is called the Allstar now. It's only 2-3/4" tall so the designs have to be no more than about 2-1/2" and I try to maintain more like 2" to 2-1/4" just for easier placement. The foam hats look like they have room for taller platen. The standard platen is 3-1/2" and that seems to be just a little too tall to allow the crown to settle down on most of the hats I sell or at least the smaller one is a LOT easier to get them to lay flat. The extra platens are pretty pricey and I think you have to go directly to the stahls website to get them. AND they aren't cheap. 

For me the secret is the smaller designs and choosing hats that fit my press better (and steering my customers to those styles of hat). Never tried a pillow on there and I don't see how it would be very productive to try and get it all stuffed in there and settled down. I just pre press them and then vigorously stretch the hat so it lays as flat as I can get it to the lower platen. Some edges tend to roll off and as long as your design doesn't lay over the edges that won't hurt anything. Having the print loaded hold down is really nice and I would hate to try and get a consistent job without it. 

Thanks goose and yes you definitely did mention the all star platen I just realized that. Sorry.  I’m probably going to invest in that honestly if it makes things easier then the time alone is a big benefit. The pillows did work decently but like you said it can be a pain to stuff in there keep it lined up doing so and all that. 

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