If you do a lot of iron-on vinyl projects, you KNOW how important having a good heat source is – but what is the best option for you. In this post, we go over at Cricut Heat Press – the EasyPress 2 – in comparison to a traditional heat press and an everyday iron. Let us help YOU decide what is best for your crafting situation in this heat press comparison post.
As I’ve said before, I LOVE doing projects using heat-transfer materials.
In the beginning, I just used my iron. I don’t make a ton of projects at a time, and I just couldn’t justify the cost of heat press – thought it quickly got put on my wish list.
When the Cricut heat press – the EasyPress – was released, I just as excited about it as I was about the release of the Cricut Maker.
It seemed like a lot more viable option for me than a traditional heat press. It was smaller, easier to store, and it just looked simpler to use.
I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my iron – my iron-on never seemed easily pressed, I would often pull up the plastic covering halfway to find something in the middle of the design hadn’t been pressed on all the way, and my iron on just didn’t seem to survive washes very well.
Plus it always took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to create anything, and I felt like I got a workout every time I did any project.
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I was on the verge of purchasing a clamshell heat press when the EasyPress was announced…so I decided it was worth waiting a couple of months for.
Over the past few years, I have come to love my EasyPress 2 – I have them in every size from the mini to the 10×12.
We are always getting questions on this topic – can I just use an iron? What are the advantages of an EasyPress? Should I just get a traditional heat press?
These are all great questions! In this post, I will go over all the different options, and I hope that it can help you feel more confident in your decision.
Table of contents
Heat Press Comparison Video
If you are more the watching type, here is a video that shares pretty much the same information that can be found in this post:
Do I Need a Heat Press with my Cricut?
First off – do you even NEED a heat press (or iron) with your Cricut?
Honestly, I primarily do iron on projects, so it’s a necessity for me. However, what you need will depend on your usage!
If you aren’t sure if you will be doing very many iron-on projects, don’t invest a lot of money yet.
Iron for Vinyl Projects
Let’s start with a traditional iron. This is definitely the simplest and least expensive option for applying iron-on vinyl. If you are just getting started with iron-on projects and aren’t sure how often you will be doing this, an iron is a good place to start.
- Generally inexpensive
- Easy to store
- You likely already have one
- It gets the job done
- Not ideal if you are doing several different projects at once
- Requires a lot of pressure
- Doesn’t always give the evenest pressure – it wasn’t uncommon for my projects to be done in one spot, and then halfway through pulling it up, it didn’t adhere at all
- They don’t cover a very large area.
I think an iron is best for someone who doesn’t do iron-on projects very often – or who isn’t sure if they will.
Cricut Heat Press – The EasyPress 2
The Original EasyPress
Next – the EasyPress! This is the original heat press that was released, but it actually isn’t currently available on Cricut.com anymore – however, you may be able to get one second-hand. They have the power of a heat press with the convenience of an iron.
A lot of people have wondered if it’s comparable to a traditional heat press, and from everything I’ve read and seen – yes! They are. They are just A LOT more user-friendly.
The first EasyPress comes in the 9×9 size. It heats to 360 degrees. Today it took about five minutes to heat to 310 degrees.
It heats pretty evenly, though I have found it doesn’t always get everything perfectly even. They aren’t very heavy. You do have to apply pressure when you are using it.
I also found that the temperature didn’t always hold steady. It would often drop 5-15 degrees while it was on, and it was kind of annoying to keep having to wait for it to get to the right temperature.
It retails at $159, though I often see it on sale. It comes in the sky blue color.
I’ll admit when they announced the EasyPress 2 was coming out, I felt a little bit skeptical. Could it really be that much better?
I’m here to tell you – it is. I have noticed a HUGE difference in the quality of my iron on projects, and they are just easier to use.
My favorite feature? The fact that it remembers the last setting. When you turn it back on, it goes back automatically to that setting. I honestly didn’t know how much I would love that feature, but I really do.
What does a Cricut Heat Press do?
- It heats up to 400 degrees – as opposed to the 360 like the original
- It heats up much more quickly; it can be around one minute, though to 2-3 for higher temperatures
- The heating plate is thicker, therefore, it provides a more even press
- The temperature is more accurate (+/- 3 degrees) than the original EasyPress
- It comes in three different sizes
- Easy to store and transport
- While you do need to use pressure still, I have found it to be less than with the original.
- Auto shut off after 10 minutes
- 6×7 ( ideal onesies, bibs, cosmetic pouches) – $139
- 9×9 (original size – ideal for shirts and tote bags) – 189
- 10×12 (ideal for blankets, larger shirts, banners) – 249
They are both good machines, but I do think the EasyPress 2 is superior.
One downside is that if you want all three sizes, it’s going to cost a lot of money. I would recommend going with the one that will work best with the types of projects you do. If you do projects of various sizes, you will definitely want to get the 10×12. I find myself using that and the 6×7 the most.
They are pricey though – even costing similar to higher-end traditional heat press machines (specifically the 10×12). However, I think they offer a lot of very attractive features that make them a very competitive buy.
One helpful tool that Cricut has is their Interactive Heating Guide online. You can select the material you are pressing on to, the material you are using (foil, vinyl, etc), and it will give you detailed and custom instructions.
Cricut also has some great EasyPress mats that I recommend using for the best finish. Otherwise, you will need a towel underneath.
Cricut EasyPress Reference Guide
Cricut has an easy-to-use and interactive guide to help you figure out exactly what settings to use for your project when you are using an EasyPress 2.
However, if you want a great printable guide, be sure to purchase our Cricut Printables, which includes this among other great resources.
Heat Press for Vinyl Projects
Finally, we have a traditional heat press. Until the EasyPress was released, this was the main alternative to an iron.
Cricut sent us one to help us do this comparison – and let me tell ya, it was a doozy. The instructions were on a tiny piece of paper, and they provided very few details.
And after two tries of doing this project, we just ended up with a big mess. The first time, it literally burned through the shirt. The second time, it almost did it again, but I pulled it up after five seconds when I started seeing smoke. The plastic stuck to the heat press, and it singed the gold color into the shirt:
I honestly don’t know what the deal was. We will be watching a bunch more YouTube videos in the future to figure this out. However, it did solidify my belief that the EasyPress is MUCH more user-friendly. From my brief searching tonight, it was possibly due to burn off from a new machine? But it seems kind of crazy that it would burn this much:
With that said, I know that heat presses are used all over the world by many people who aren’t almost burning their houses down, so I have to look past my initial experience to give a comparison…because I DO think this is a good option for some people.
If you are creating iron-on projects professionally, then yes, do your research, find a good one, and get it. But for a consumer? I do think the EasyPress is the best option.
I’m not sure if it was just the heat press we got, and it’s lack of instructions, but it was not a good experience. Here is the heat press we used.
I know it might seem like I sabotaged this or something to make the EasyPress look better since this post is done in partnership with Cricut – but I honestly wanted it to work so I could give a good comparison.
I’m really disappointed that I won’t be including it in my little experiment (yet!), because I want people to be able to make the most informed decision possible.
I really wanted to be able to give a good comparison to a heat press in this post, and as we figure out how to best use this one, I will be posting an update. So stay tuned!
With that said, here are some pros and cons of using a traditional heat press. I recommend reading the reviews thoroughly before purchasing one.
- A heat press can apply iron-on materials very quickly and offers a very professional finish. If you are a professional who is creating products for customers – especially in large quantities. It may be your best option
- A HeatPress can typically go up to a higher temperature of around 500 degrees
- They can be versatile – this one has attachments for mugs, plates, and hats. I haven’t had much luck applying vinyl to hats using the EasyPress in the past, though the smallest size may be a winner. Forrest and I really think it would be cool to try out these attachments. The mugs really intrigued me!
- They are big – which makes them hard to move and store
- They get REALLY hot – I felt a little nervous myself using this. With the EasyPress, it’s mainly just the hot plate that gets hot…but these get hot all over. I would not feel comfortable having my kiddos around while I use one of these
- The base plate for this one really wasn’t that large. It didn’t fit my entire shirt, so I had to put the iron-on vinyl at an angle to try and get it to work. While the workspace isn’t tiny, it does make it a little trickier to press anything larger.
This model is $179 on Amazon.
Heat Comparison Test
Now I will apply vinyl with all of the above. This will show the process and how long it takes. We plan to wash this with every load for the next month or so and will give an update then!
Sadly, we won’t be able to compare the heat press and how it holds up quite yet – once we get our grips on our heat press, we will do another test. That will be shared here as soon as we can!
It has been a long time since I did this post – and I got pregnant and moved to a new house shortly after. Needless to say, this kind of got pushed to the wayside.
We did wash the shirt for about a month, and I was shocked – the iron held up the best! I will try and take a picture here soon.
So, Which Ones Should I Get?
Well, hopefully, this post will have helped you decide what is the best option for you. Maybe you are going to stick with an iron for now – perhaps one of the EasyPress machines caught your eye…or maybe (despite my disastrous attempt at using one), you’ve decided a traditional heat press is the best option for you.
There’s no right answer for everything, but I hope that you will have a clearer view of what would be best for you right now. Be sure to leave any comments with questions you may have!