Heat Presses... There are sooo many to choose from, so which is the best for 'me'?

Size Swing arm or Clam shell Combination, Multi Presses Budget / Costs These are the only considerations, but then we come into brand names and distributors. Heat Presses are basically a commercial Iron, but don't think you'll manage or achieve the same with a $10 Iron. They are a business expense, and will never be priced at $100 However as with everything, there are equivalents that are provided cheaper and raises the question "What is different on this one to the others?" Service, lack of parts, higher maintenance or inferior products such as inaccurate digital counter or higher tolerance on the heat element??
Size:- 15 inch is by far the most popular, but would suggest bigger the better.of course bigger does cost more, and getting a 9 or 12 inch on price would just be a waste if your can't complete or progress through your business plan. So always with every business decision refer to your plan and what it is that you plan to do with this press. Is it your plan to advance to offering more products to your customers, or is your only plan to offer this one additional item range? ie start offering clothing/shirts or just badges or or just hats. If just badges then the smaller 6 inch or 8 inch would be great for you, but if planning on a progression then you will very quickly out grow this based on customer growth. If doing shows only / on site work then perhaps a 9 or 12 inch, these a lighter and easier to move but can still be used for for shirts etc.
Swing or Clam:- What process are you going to use? HTV or sublimation. Either will work for any process, however only the swing is preferred with sublimation. Clam is the cheaper choice, but has a limited clearance between the plattern which is indeed a big concern with sublimation. The clam will be just fine with fabrics, and patches etc Swing offers a better even heat distribution when used with the thicker items offered by sublimation. When the clam is used for sublimation, the press will clam down on the item from the back which means uneven press / heat distribution on the thicker items. the clam does have a small foot print than the swing, since the extra space a the side of the press is not used with the clam.
Multi-Presses:- These are so called by offering the ability to press a wider variety of items and not just clothing. you can, with these also do mugs, plates and hats. this are only useful for small volume of specific items. If you are having requests to do 20 mugs, then one shirt, then 2 hats you will find it awkward to keep production flowing due to the need to change the press over and allowing to then heat up to temp. These are great to get into a new market, but as mentioned earlier, you may find yourself quickly out-growing this and may find the need for separate presses on each application.
Budget;- Of course we all have a set amount in mind when starting a new product, however if you have done your planning and marketing correctly you will clearly see when a good time is to order the right equipment. it could end up costing alot more if you was to start too early and going with a variation from the original plan. The advice would be to wait until you have to money to get the correct equipment, this may also provide the extra time to complete the research on your plans.
Brand Names:- We all like to have the BMW vehicle, BMW means quality, a style of living... but a mini van is still capable of driving the same route and distance. So then it now become a matter of pride, and wanting want others may have instead of what your business needs.
The mini van, may need maintenance however parts and labour are cheaper. The BMW wont break down as often and when it does, will cost more, and has also cost more to start with than the mini van.Names equivalent in heat presses are Stahls, Geo knight, Rincons, Ricoma and Hix.
Distributors:- These are not the same as shopping by brand name, since many distributors are offering Stahls to Ricoma presses, and so here becomes important as to who is providing the better service with their equipment offered. Heat presses are all priced in the same area according to the name and differences in prices become the only variation based on service offered with this press. Only some are available when YOU need them to be, Only some will have the spare parts available, Only some will have the technical knowledge/experience to fix your issue instead of guessing, or sending the wrong part.