November 5th, 2018 • Contributor: Cricut Blog Team
We often get the question: “I am trying to decide what to buy, a Cricut EasyPress 2 or a traditional heat press. What is the difference?” Read on … or if you want to skip to the punchline, we have an easy comparison chart at the end.
Making flawless iron-on projects requires first and foremost your creativity! That’s a given, but in terms of tools, top on the list is a machine that applies even heat across the design. Next is a hard and stable surface, and finally, some pressure. The myth of super-pressure arises because for optimal outcome you need a flat, stable surface, and not all projects are completely flat. T-shirts have seams, make-up bags have zippers, baby bibs have piping, and on and on. Typical heat press machines have no way to work around these features. In order to work correctly, they use high amounts of pressure to push the feature into padding which helps to create a flatter pressing surface. More on this below.
Let’s start with similarities.
How are EasyPress 2 and a typical Heat Press similar?
If you love working with iron-on (also known as Heat Transfer Vinyl or HTV), or if your next must-have for your craft room is some kind of press, both EasyPress 2 and heat presses deliver professional results. Here’s how:
- Both heat up to at least 400-degrees Fahrenheit, making it possible to work on a wide range of iron-on applications
- Both have edge-to-edge even heating across their respective heat plates
- Both are steam free (there are no holes in the heat plate; crucial for iron-on success)
- Both have exact temperature controls and timers, so you know how long to press
That’s where the similarities end.
Let’s start with size, weight and portability differences.
- Questions to ask: Is my craft table stable and large enough for a heat press? Will I be able to lift a heat press if necessary? Do I want a portable machine I can take from room-to-room or to a friend’s house: think crafternoons, baby or wedding showers, birthday parties?
- EasyPress 2: Fits easily in most craft rooms and spaces, can be stored on a shelf or in a cabinet, and comes with a convenient canvas travel tote. EasyPress 2 12” x 10” (our largest) weighs-in at only 8.6lbs. And, despite being really light, you do not need to press hard to get flawless iron-on. You only need the pressure of one or sometimes both hands, depending on your project, for optimal results. (See here for an overview on how to determine the right pressure for your projects and here for all weights and dimensions of all three sizes of EasyPress 2.)
- Heat Press: Most heat presses weigh 45 lbs – or more – and take up considerable space on your craft table. A heat press is typically a permanent fixture; once it is placed in your workspace, you will likely not want to move it again.
Next, size of the heat plates
- Questions to ask: The key questions is, “what size will work best for my typical projects?” Do you make small things for baby, t-shirts for tweens, teens or teams, or larger tote bags, towels or blankets? Ideally, the heat plate dimensions should be large enough to cover the area of your iron-on project, without seams, zippers or trim interfering in a successful outcome.
- EasyPress 2: EasyPress 2 comes in three sizes so that you can select the right size for your projects. For example, the 6” x 7” EasyPress 2 is perfect for a small surface when making it flat is challenging, like on baby t-shirts or bodysuits. Seams create an uneven surface and can disrupt the successful application of iron-on – bummer. To learn more about the advantages of each size, see our blog: Which one is right for you?
- Heat Press: Most heat press plates are 15” x 15” or larger (mostly for commercial purposes). The large surface area provides coverage for most iron-on projects that you can fit between the plates. They use a lot of pressure to compensate for squishing seams, collars or anything else that could get in the way of transferring your design onto a completely flat surface.
Types of projects possible with each press
- Questions to ask: What types of projects will I be making? Do I want versatility to apply iron-on to rounded items like hats, household décor or dimensional projects like the wooden stool pictured above.
- EasyPress 2: EasyPress 2 works on all types of materials, thicknesses, and dimensional projects, (like a hat, stool or sign). See the kid’s wooden stool project in Design Space as an example of applying iron-on to a larger object. Imagine trying to fit a wooden stool into a heat press … talk about a craft fail!
- Heat Press: With a clamshell or swing arm design, projects need to lie flat so they can be pressed between two plates. Some machines come with add-ons that will help with applying iron-on to smaller rounder objects like hats.
- Questions to ask: Do I have surge protection available or dedicated 20-amp circuit? Does my workspace need to be kid-friendly?
- EasyPress 2: EasyPress 2 comes with streamlined safety base, a safe-touch plastic shell, has an auto shut-off feature and does not require a dedicated power outlet.
- Heat Press: Built for commercial purposes primarily, heat presses require dedicated power outlets to avoid tripping circuits. These machines generate a lot of heat and to operate them you are putting the item – not to mention your hands – between plates. You’ll also want to keep kids a safe distance away. Heat presses do not have an auto-off feature.
Time to complete projects
- Questions to ask: How many iron-on projects will I most likely plan to make at one time? And, will I be producing repeat projects using the same design over-and-over (more than 10 at a time)?
- EasyPress 2: In approximately three minutes, the 12” x 10” will heat up to 315 degrees Fahrenheit (the smaller sizes in the EasyPress 2 family take only a minute or two). It will beep to let you know it’s ready to go. Thirty to 45 seconds later, your iron-on project will be done!*
- Heat Press: It can take up to 8 minutes or more for heat press to warm up to 315 degrees Fahrenheit. In the time it takes a heat press to warm up, it is possible to have applied iron-on to five t-shirts using an EasyPress 2. To be fair, once the heat press has reached the desired temperature, it is typically faster making the same project over-and-over as long as you are using the same design, iron-on material, and base: 10 or more t-shirts, for example.
*Cricut provides an interactive quick reference guide so you know the correct time and temperature settings and peel recommendations for your specific iron‑on project.
If you have a small crafting business with plenty of space and want to produce the same projects over-and-over (over 10 times, for example), you might prefer a heat press. If you are a crafter who wants professional results using a lightweight, mobile, versatile and safety-first option, the EasyPress 2 is the clear choice.
Here is a handy comparison chart for easy reference:
If you are still not sure and have questions about Easy Press 2, please see our informative FAQ page or watch EasyPress 2 education videos. And, no matter which machine you own (or end up purchasing), be sure to consider high-quality Cricut Iron-on.
If you already have one or the other, please leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you.