Everyone knows that mistakes happen. The paper gets knocked off center and a graphic is skewed. A cup that is too hot is dunked in water that is too cold and shatters. A printer isn’t cleaned for a while and a nozzle jams on a day when a lot of work needs to be done. 25 shirts with a quote including the word nuts are printed, except instead of nuts, the word stun is used. Sometimes, as much as we all try to avoid it, we’re not the windshield, we’re the bug, and there’s nothing that can be done about it except to scrape yourself up and try to avoid the same mistakes next time.
If you’re on a quest to avoid mishaps and mistakes, here are a few things you can do to minimize the potential for issues. Some of these sound pretty simple, but you’d be amazed how often neglecting the simplest things can lead to problems.
Item 1: Follow instructions – Sawgrass Ink and most of the sublimation blank companies offer suggested press times and temperature settings. While it is true that every press and printer may require a bit of trial and error, it’s also true that it is best to start off with the recommended settings. This gives you a baseline from which to work. Once you have established the proper settings for your equipment, make a note of them and keep them close to your workspace. That way anyone who works for you will have the proper instructions for the job, which will save a lot of time and wasted materials.
Item 2: Use good artwork for good results – When you’re in a hurry the temptation to try and squeak something through with a piece of artwork that isn’t the best can be overwhelming. The problem is that “good enough” often is not even close to good enough. If you want the best results, you need to use the best artwork available. It may take a little more time to get or create the artwork you need, but the end results will be worth the effort.
Item 3: Have a regular maintenance schedule – As I said in last Friday’s post proper maintenance of your printer is important. I know that sometimes the temptation to skip the maintenance routine, particularly if you’re short on time and extremely busy, but taking a few minutes to run a proper nozzle check and do a cleaning can save you a lot of wasted time later in your work day. Keeping your equipment in good working order will always save you time and money in the long run.
Item 4: Print small, before you print big – Garments and sublimation blanks can be costly items, and you don’t want to waste one if you don’t have too. Often times it will pay to press your transfer on a piece of practice fabric before you move to creating your final product. The reason that EnMart often includes a small bundle of sample fabric in with sublimation orders is to allow our customers to do test prints of this type. Doing a test print will allow you to detect any color or orientation issues before you create your final product.
Item 5: Ask for help – There are any number of resources out there dedicated to helping people sublimate and use ChromaBlast properly. There is this blog. There are both the T-shirt Forums and the Apparel Decorators Forum. Sawgrass Ink has an extensive website with a lot of tips and videos. The resources and information are available all you have to do is take advantage of them. Never be reluctant to ask for assistance.