The FreeSub 2015 Pneumatic Mug Press for sublimation sold on Amazon by Yescom is an affordable, convenient and easy-to-use press. It is designed to fit standard 11oz mugs and will press sublimation transfers up to 4” high (maximum press wrap is 8.5”x 4”).
What to Expect
Mug presses often come without any instructions, however, the controls for this one are pretty easy to figure out. This press offers a simple LCD panel with a 5 button controls:
- Timing: This button controls the press time (in units of seconds) and allows you to start the counting process manually. If the press functions properly, you may never need to use this button.
- Mode: This is the main button to set the press settings (temperature and time). Press “Mode” once and then use the Plus and Minus buttons to set the temperature in Celsius. Press “Mode” twice, and it will allow you to set the press time in units of seconds. You can also long press “Mode” for about five seconds to set the pre-heating temperature, if you want it to differ from the pressing temperature. NOTE: The default setting is 170 Celsius, and will not exceed 200 degrees, again in Celsius.
- Plus and Minus: Use these with other settings to increase or decrease numbers. Pressing (+ / -) at the same time may allow you to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit. However, this function has been known not to work properly and may be absent completely from some of the models of this press.
- Stop: This button overrides the automatic clamping mechanism and allows you to release or clamp the mug. It is advised to use this button only sparingly, as frequent use may actually damage the machine. Use it only in an emergency.
Another great thing about this press is that it will remember your settings the next time you turn it on. This saves times, especially when pressing large orders frequently.
Recommended press settings of time and temperature may differ, depending on the type of substrate you’re using. However, it is recommended to do some test runs to determine the best time and temperature for your machine. It has been reported that the sensor may actually be off by a few degrees.
When you first turn on the machine, the inflating pump will activate and the element will begin heating up immediately. Wait for the press to beep that it is ready before placing a mug inside the clamps. Once the mug touches the approach switch located, on the bottom inside the heating pads, the press will very abruptly turn on the air compressor to automatically apply pressure and clamp down on the mug.
The temperature will also suddenly go down, as it now accounts for the presence of the cool mug. The countdown for the pressing will automatically begin once the set temperature is reached, which is standard with most mug presses. At the end of the countdown, a loud and persistent beep lets you know that the mug. The air will decompress the mug at this time, as well.
Located on the back of the machine is a small glass container, referred to as “air filter,” which, with frequent use, will collect water waste. Periodically, you may need to release the pressure and dump water from the air filter, if present. This is part of the minimal maintenance associated with this press.
To conduct the maintenance, make sure the machine is turned off. Dump the water by unscrewing the bottom of the air filter. If no water waste is present it is recommended to periodically partially unscrew the bottom of the air filter to release the pressure. Personally, I never had the air filter fill with water waste.
One of the main advantages of this press is that it’s not manual, like most you see on the market for sublimation. It is pneumatic, using a computer calibrated air compressor to provide the pressure around the mug. This means all you have to do is set the time and temperature on the mug press, and you’ll get great presses without having to test different pressure settings.
Another advantage is the very low price point. It is a good point-of-entry for those new to sublimation and who want to work with mugs. However, this press’ low price is also a disadvantage and proves that you get what you pay for.
Several customer reviews, as well as my own experience with this press, show that this press has its technical issues. My first press lasted about a year until the temperature sensor gave out. Prior to that, it would throw errors that required it to be cooled down if pressing more than half a dozen mugs at a time.
My second press was a lemon out of the box. The mechanism that clamps around the mug did not function. I was able to get that exchanged, and my third press seems to be doing fine so far.
I should note that the largest number of mugs I have ever pressed at once was 18, and with my current press, I have pressed maybe 60 thus far in total. Reviewers on Amazon seem to be reporting the same kind of issues I have experienced, mostly centered around the temperature sensor.
I love the convenience of the pneumatic mug press, and I do think it is a great little press. However, I would only recommend it to a casual sublimator. Someone who is sublimating mugs in bulk or on a daily basis would do better with a more heavy-duty press.
This is a review I can get behind. I bought this press when I first got started sublimating mugs. It worked well for 3 months. Then the temperature sensor went out. Before that the countdown stopped working correctly, and I had to experiment to find the sweet spot for time again. I got it replaced under warranty. The second press never really worked well. It didn’t heat evenly. Now matter how I changed time and temperature, it would not ruin every 4th mug. I bought a different brand and style and now get consistent results. While I miss the pneumatic part a little, I don’t miss the problems.
Based on Alex’s experiences, I think you’re right on with your assessment. She likes her press, but knows its limitations. I think I would roll the dice on one if my mug press dies.