I post on a couple of decoration forums and on one of them, the ADF, we’ve been having a discussion about sublimation. Now, if you search sublimation on a decoration forum, you’ll find lots that’s positive, as there are many people out there who are doing very well with sublimation and having thriving businesses built around sublimating clothing or other goods. You will also, however, find people who don’t like the printers, don’t like the ink and don’t think sublimation works well at all. Everyone is, of course, entitled to their own opinion, and certainly an individual’s own experiences will form that opinion, but I have to wonder if part of the disillusion when it comes to sublimation is because of poor information at the start. Since I figure that might be the case, at least in part, I thought today might be a good day to post a sublimation reality check and discuss a few things that everyone should know before they start sublimating.
Reality Check #1: Learning Curve – The learning curve for sublimation may be smaller than for other decorating techniques, but there is a learning curve. You need to expect to make some mistakes and ruin some blanks. You need to plan on spending some time watching videos or reading blogs to learn how to sublimate correctly. Compared to some other decoration techniques, sublimation is fairly simple, but it still takes time to learn how to sublimate properly.
Reality Check #2: Printers and Ink – Yes, sublimation ink is different from regular printer ink. Yes, printers used with sublimation ink, regardless of brand, can have clogs and sometimes do. No, this does not mean that sublimation ink is terrible and the printers are crap. It means you have to learn how to use your system properly, and you have to pay attention to the conditions around your printer and stay on a regular printing schedule to avoid problems. It also means sometimes you can do everything you know to do and clogs happen. The law of averages says some printers will have problems, but that doesn’t mean every printer and every cartridge of ink is flawed.
Reality Check #3: Sublimation is a money pit/ gold mine – It costs money to get started in sublimation, although start up costs are lower than with some other decoration disciplines. It’s also possible to make a good living with sublimation, although that takes work and some selling. Customers won’t drop into your lap, but they are out there, and sublimation also makes a nice compliment to other decoration disciplines, like embroidery.
The main thing to remember is that building a sublimation business is like building any type of business – it takes time and dedication and a certain amount of making mistakes before you reach success. If you are dedicated to buying a good sublimation system, willing to spend the time to learn how to use it properly, and realistic enough to understand that there will be bumps in the road, you will most likely be able to develop a profitable and satisfying sublimation business.