When it comes to a personalized gift, there are many options. Tee shirts, pins, and stickers all come to mind. Mugs are another popular gift. But traditionally, in order to get a custom mug, you’ve needed to have one made. In the old days, this meant going to a shop in person, and you usually had to order dozens at minimum. That’s not exactly “personalized.”
Since then, the internet has brought us services that will create one-off mugs, shirts, and other accessories. Unfortunately, the price for a custom mug can be a bit steep.
You’re not just paying for the mug and ink; you’re also paying for the labor. On top of that, there’s the cost of shipping, and the printer needs to earn a profit.
But what if you could make your own custom mug in the comfort of your own home? As a matter of fact, you can. With a heat press machine and the right transfer paper, you can.
Then, you can buy inexpensive blank mugs, and create your own custom printouts. These kinds of mugs make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and more.
We’re about to review three of the best mug and tumbler heat presses we could find. These are all designed to apply high-quality prints on a variety of materials. But which one is the best choice for you?
To find out, we’ll have to look a lot closer at all of their features. We’ll need to look at the physical design, and how they’re constructed. We’ll have to talk about their capacity, and what size mugs they’re capable of printing.
In addition, we’ll need to consider the controls, and how easy they are to use. After that, we’ll have a more complete picture, and we can deliver a fair verdict. Let’s get started!
VEVOR Mug Press Machine
The VEVOR Mug Press Machine has a white ABS plastic housing with an attractive, high-gloss finish. It has an oval footprint, with straight vertical sides. It measures 11 inches wide and 6.3 inches deep, with a height of 6.3 inches. Furthermore, it weighs only 6 pounds, so it’s easy to move around. If you want to store it in a closet and only take it out every now and then, you can. Branding is also minimal, with only a black VEVOR imprint on the front.
Use code 12ARTS13ZD for a 12% discount when you purchase the VEVIR Mug Press Machine on Amazon
Your mug sits in a cylindrical depression, which has a vertical slot in the side for your handle. The inner liner is made from soft silicone, with a non-stick Teflon finish. It’s easy to get your mug in and out, and you don’t have to worry about it getting scratched.
All the controls are performed with a single teal button in the left part of the top of the housing. The button is slightly depressed, and has five LED indicator lights above it. There’s an additional rectangular LED, located directly in the middle of the button.
The same button is used to adjust both the temperature and the timer setting. To adjust the temperature, first press and hold the button for six seconds. At that point, the LED in the middle will light up orange. Then you can press the button to cycle through the five temperature settings.
Leave the button alone for five seconds, and the setting will be saved. The timer is adjusted the same way, only you press and hold the button for ten seconds. The light in the center will turn blue, and you’ll be ready to set the timer.
The VEVOR heat press has a temperature range of 0 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, you can’t set the temperature to a precise number. However, you have enough range of settings to work with most types of material. Similarly, the five time settings give you enough flexibility for most jobs. You can run the press for 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100 seconds per cycle.
In terms of mug material, this press is rated for ceramic, steel, or glass. In terms of size, the heating element will fit mugs between 2.9 and 3.3 inches in diameter. That includes most 11- to 15-ounce mugs.
Operation is simple. Once you’ve entered your settings and the unit is powered on, set a mug in the heating chamber. A built-in weight sensor will automatically activate the clamp, which will close tight over your mug. When the job is finished, the clamp will open automatically, and you can retrieve your mug. It’s easy to create many mugs at a time; all you have to do is insert them and remove them.
There’s also a safety and power saving feature. If the machine is left unused for 30 minutes, it will automatically power off. In addition, you can press the power button at any time to stop the heating cycle and open the clamp.
BetterSub Mug Heat Press
The BetterSub Mug Heat Press has a beefy metal frame that’s somewhat L-shaped. The heating element is at the front left, with a large handle behind it. To the right of the handle is the power inverter and control panel.
The overall size of the housing is 12.2 inches wide, 10.63 inches deep, and 13.78 inches high. A lot of this height includes the handle, which is sturdy aluminum with a rubberized coating. The whole thing is a bit hefty, at 11.28 pounds. However, a set of rubber feet keep the bottom from scratching your working surface.
The heating element in this press is horizontally-oriented, with the slot at the top. You slide your mug in from one end, and the handle sticks out the top. The inner silicone padding provides good protection against scratches and nicks. It’s also very heat-resistant, with the ability to withstand temperatures of 700 degrees.
There’s a bright red power switch on the right side of the housing, but the main controls are on the front. Here, you’ll see a three-digit display. Depending on what you’re adjusting, this will show either the temperature or the timer setting.
Changing your settings is easy. Press the “OK” button, and the display will read “P-1.” Use the arrow keys to adjust the temperature, and press the OK button again when you’re finished. The display will then read “P-2.” Now you can adjust the time setting, once again using the arrow keys. Press and hold the OK button for three seconds, and the settings will be saved.
The temperature on the BetterSub heat press can be adjusted between 0 and 430 degrees. The timer, meanwhile, can be adjusted between 0 and 240 seconds. The nice thing about the digital display is that you can lock in very precise settings. If you want to run the press at 353 degrees for 49 seconds, you can.
Operation is pretty straightforward. First, you insert your mug, then press the “Enter” button to start a heating cycle. When the temperature has come all the way up to full heat, press back on the handle to close the clamp. At the same time, press the OK button to start the timer. When the buzzer sounds, open the clamp and remove your mug. Press the Enter button to stop the buzzer, and you’re ready to print another mug.
This press is designed to fit mugs between 3.1 and 3.9 inches in diameter. That’s an appropriate size for most 6- to 17-ounce mugs. There’s also an adjustable tension screw at the base of the handle assembly. You can use this screw to fine-tune the clamp’s tension, and get the ideal tension level for your particular mugs.
We started out by talking about the fact that mugs make great gifts and party favors. But if you’re going to throw a party, maybe you want more than party favors. Maybe you also want a custom cake. In that case, check out our list of the best edible ink printers. They’re a great way to turn an ordinary cake into an unforgettable memory.
PYD Life Mug & Tumbler Heat Press Machine
The PYD Life Mug & Tumbler Heat Press Machine has a wide metal frame. The bottom and sides are black, with fat rubber feet on the base to prevent scratching or slipping. In-between the two sides is the central press housing, which is made of a blued metal.
The handle sticks up behind it and is almost as wide as the entire machine. It’s comfortable and easy to grip, with a soft foam cover. Including the handle, the machine is 11.7 inches tall, with a width of 17.5 inches and a depth of 18.4. At 20.5 pounds, it’s a bit heavy, and harder to move and store. Then again, it has a lot to offer, even with the large footprint.
There’s a control panel on the front of the housing, with a colorful LCD display. The temperature is displayed at the top in large white numbers. Underneath, you’ll see the timer setting, in big red numbers. There’s also a heating indicator, a timer indicator, and a counter for the number of cycles.
Adjusting your settings is simple. You press the set button to adjust the temperature. Then use the up and down arrows, and press the set button again. Setting the timer is similar, but you press and hold the set button for five seconds. Pressing the “Clear” button will reset the cycle counter.
The mug housing itself is horizontal, like the one on the BetterSub. The handle slot runs crossways across the center of the press, and you insert your mug from the side.
The PYD Life mug press is exceptionally versatile. You can adjust the timer setting anywhere from 0 to 999 seconds. You’d never need that much time in reality, but it’s always good to have options. As for the temperature, it can be adjusted between 0 and 482 degrees. Not only that, but you can even use it for stainless steel mugs and tumblers, not just ceramic.
Using the press is simple. You insert your mug, then pull down on the handle until the clamp is secure. Then you press the button to activate it. When the cycle is done, you lift up on the handle to release your mug. Like the previous heat press, there’s also a tension screw. You can adjust this as needed to get the precise fit you need for your mug.
In all, this heat press has a pretty wide size range. It will support a 2.6 to 3.4-inch diameter mug, which includes most blank mugs you would purchase. Better yet, it can be used for tumblers up to 10.6 inches tall. If you’re doing a 360-degree print on a tumbler, keep in mind that there’s a gap for a mug handle. You’ll want to stop halfway through and rotate the tumbler for even heating.
So, which one of these mug and tumbler heat press machines is the right choice for you? A lot depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s recap what we’ve discussed.
The VEVOR Mug Press Machine is a great choice if you want a compact, storable machine. It’s very beginner-friendly, with an automatic closure and vertical heating chamber. The temperature won’t go as high as the other options, and you don’t get nearly as much precision. But for most beginners, those things will be outweighed by the sheer convenience.
Use code 12ARTS13ZD for a 12% discount when you purchase the VEVIR Mug Press Machine on Amazon
The BetterSub Mug Heat Press is a bigger, beefier machine that’s a bit harder to store. However, it’s more versatile. You can control your time and temperature down to the degree or the second. Additionally, the tension screw makes it easy to adjust to almost any mug. For the more experienced user, these are great features.
The PYD Life Mug & Tumbler Heat Press Machine is the most versatile of the bunch. It has the widest time and temperature ranges, along with precise settings. It also supports printing tumblers up to 10.6 inches high, in addition to mugs. That’s a lot of added value if you want to print a variety of containers.