Deciding which sublimation or ChromaBlast system to purchase can be difficult. There are a lot of issues to consider if you are going to purchase the system that is right for you. If you’re in the process of purchasing your first system, or are thinking or upgrading to a larger system, here, courtesy of our sublimation expert, Tom Chambers, are some questions to ask that will help you ensure you get the system you both want and need.
1. What is your expected volume?
The answer to this question helps determine whether you should avoid considering an Epson printer based system at all. If you anticipate that your system may sit unused for a day or more at a time, you should probably go with a Ricoh based system. If you don’t already have a heat press, your estimated volume can also help determine whether an inexpensive light duty or all in one press will work, or if you need a heavy duty commercial grade press.
2. What is the largest size image you will probably need to print?
This is perhaps the single MOST IMPORTANT, and most overlooked question, because it
determines what printers, blanks, and heat presses are available for you to choose from. 90% of the
available blank goods will work just fine with 8.5” x 14” prints, or when printed in 2 sheets and taped.
But if you need to print larger items, maybe using 11” x 17” prints, you’ll need a heat press with a 16” x
20” platen as well as a printer capable of printing that size sheet.
3. Will you be producing only flat goods, or will you do mugs too?
If you plan on only doing shirts and mousepads, and other flat items, you can save some money
and go with a light duty press, a commercial grade clamshell heat press, or use your current heat press
if you already have one. If you plan on doing mugs, drinkware, plates, or other items, you may need to
consider a combo press, oven wraps, or perhaps even a dedicated mug press.
4. What is your target market?
This may well be the hardest question to answer, and present the greatest unknowns. But if you
have an idea already, you will be ahead of the game, and it will assist you in answering the other
questions. For assistance with determining your target market check out our post on deciding on your target market, and our post on some potential target markets for the goods you create.
5. What graphics software will you use?
You can use whatever graphics program you are comfortable with to design your artwork for
sublimating or ChromaBlast. The two most common ones are CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator.
However, you can use anything from Open Office Draw to Microsoft Word or Front Page – anything that
will let you design and print what you want. But you will need to use something.
6. Last but not least, what’s your budget?
Ok, now you’ve figured out what system you need, what blanks you are going to print, and what
kind of heat press you require, so how much does it all cost, and does it fit within your budget? The
good news is that sublimation and ChromaBlast are probably two of the least expensive businesses that
exist to start up, and no matter what budget level system you choose, with a little effort, forethought, and planning, you will be successful.