Decorate ANY HAT with the Captain Platen Kit for Heat Press!


In the apparel decorating industry, it is no secret that hats are an ever-popular favorite for clients of all kinds. However, there are so many styles of hats that it is also quite common to run into problems regarding the best ways to decorate them. With DTG and Screen Printing, getting the hat to lay flat enough for successful printing, while still maintaining optimal production speeds to ensure the order is done within a reasonable amount of time, can prove quite difficult. And with a standard Heat Press, the shape or structure of the hat may also pose an issue when pressing the hat as well. So, how can this resolved? You want a solution that can provide high-quality products for your clients, without jeopardizing your productivity or ability to take the order in the first place. Case en pointe: the Captain Platen Kit for Heat Press.

The Captain Platen Kit for Heat Press is a catch-all solution for "Can I decorate this hat?" Its unique design holds the front hat panels down flat, and the heat-resistant Top Plate and Heat Press Adaptor make the compatible with your Hotronix Heat Presses. Therefore, you now have the ability to decorate virtually any hat, including blended fabrics, unknown fiber content, hats with special finishes (as long as they are heat-resistant!) and so much more! Whether you are decorating with heat transfer vinyl, DTG transfers, DTF transfers, Screen Print Transfers, or iron-ons, as long as the hat can withstand the heat, your Captain Platen Kit for Heat Press can do it!


For this project, we are decorating a nylon/polyester five-panel hat with a reflective coating, using a Halloween-inspired design made for heat transfer vinyl and the Captain Platen Kit for Heat Press! And if you would like to follow along and try this project with your Kit, you can get the download for this design here!

Printing the Design on Heat Transfer Vinyl

  1. Prepare your artwork by mirror reflecting the entire design in your digital artwork design program. If you are using the design provided above, it is already print-ready. 
  2. Open your artwork in your vinyl cutter's printing program and load your choice of vinyl into the cutter. We are using the GCC Expert II Vinyl Cutter Plotter to print our design.
  3. Set your vinyl cutter according to the suggested pressure and speed settings according to the vinyl you are using and print/cut the design. Our settings are:
    • Pressure: 120
    • Speed: 60
  4. After the artwork is done cutting, carefully weed the design using a weeding tool, tweezers, or any tool that feels comfortable for use. 

Loading the Hat

  1. Place your Captain Platen for Heat Press on your Setup Station with the Top Plate closest to you and the locking bar pushed up and away from you and lock the platen in place by pushing the platen's side knobs inward.
  2. Remove the standard base from your heat press and replace it with the Heat Press Adaptor.
  3. Undo the back straps of the hat and slide the hat brim under the front bar.
  4. Tuck the sweatband, any tags, and all inner layers underneath the Top Plate and pull the hat toward you until it is laying flat, ensure the top of the hat brim is aligned with the top of the platen and the sides of the brim are aligned with the sides of the platen.
  5. Pull the hat's front panels taut and engage the locking bar by pulling it back toward you and locking it in place under the Top Plate. 
  6. Tug at the sides of the front panels to get the surface as flat as possible.
    KEY TIP: If you are having trouble getting difficult puckers in the hat's material to sit flat due to a flaw in how it was sewn, you can get it out by heat pressing the before setting the vinyl transfer in place.

Applying the Vinyl Transfer to the Hat

  1. After loading the hat, remove the Captain Platen from the Setup Station by unlocking the platen's side knobs and place it on the Heat Press Adaptor, then re-engage the locking side knobs. 
  2. Place your vinyl transfer in the intended placement on the front panels of the hat. Optionally, you may tape down the vinyl transfer using heat tape before pressing.
  3. Heat press the vinyl transfer on to the hat according to your vinyl and heat press's suggested settings. We are pressing ours at 300F for 30 seconds. 
  4. After heat pressing and before peeling off the vinyl's film backing, remove the Captain Platen from the Heat Press Adaptor and replace it on to the Setup Station. 
    KEY TIP: You will know that you have pressed the vinyl transfer long enough when you can start to see the film backing peeling up on its own. We have found that letting the vinyl cool down for a few seconds prior to peeling ensures a cleaner application.
  5. Peel off the vinyl's film backing in one fluid motion and unload the hat.


And that's it! You have now successfully decorated a hat using your heat press and heat transfer vinyl! You can now decorate virtually any hat, and accept any hat order that comes your way!

Products Used In This Project:

Captain Platen Kit for Heat Press

Heat Press Adaptor

Captain Platen HP

The Heat Press capabilities don't stop there! Check out our series on Direct to Film with DTG transfers to learn all you can do with your Heat Press Kits!

Want to See More of These Products in Action? Schedule a Demo Session with Us!

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