Category: Sublimation

The Intangible Extras

Ordering a sublimation system means that you’re going to get basically the same thing – a printer,  some ink,  some paper,  maybe some practice fabric,  maybe some blanks,  but the essentials won’t vary all that much.   Prices may vary some,  depending on where and when you’re buying,  but they most likely won’t be all that different from place to place.   Really,  when you’re purchasing a sublimation system,  it’s about the intangible extras,   the things you can’t really see or touch,  but which can make your shopping experience, and your subsequent sublimation experience, good or bad.   Since some of you reading this may not be entirely familiar with Enmart,  I thought I’d take a minute to point out the extras that EnMart can offer to those buying a sublimation system.

Knowledge – EnMart has been involved in inkjet sublimation practically since inkjet sublimation has existed.    Our parent company,  Ensign Emblem,  worked to bring inkjet sublimation to industrial laundries.   Ensign Emblem also does production sublimation,  primarily patches,  for customers of both Ensign and EnMart.   We understand sublimation.   We’ve done it for years,  and all the knowledge and expertise we’ve gained is now available to our EnMart customers.   If you have questions about sublimation,  and want answers from people who’ve actually sublimated goods in a production setting,  you want to talk to us.

Support – The same techs that support our in-house sublimation would be the ones who would support your sublimation efforts if you purchased a system from EnMart.   Our techs are experienced at keeping sublimation systems running on a continual basis.   Our support is available during East Coast business hours,  but our techs also often answer questions submitted via e-mail in the hours when the company is closed.   We do our best to make sure our customers get a rapid response when they have issues.

Speed – When you’re on a deadline,  getting goods quickly is vital.   At EnMart,  most orders for in stock goods will ship same day if ordered by 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.    We are also a one or two day ground shipment away for almost half the country.   Don’t wait days for your order to ship – order from EnMart and get your items when you need them.

Minimums – Other than a $25 minimum order requirement,  which can be met with a combination of any items in the store,  EnMart doesn’t have minimum requirements.   Want to order one mugcutting board or ink cartridge?  Go right ahead.   As long as you meet the $25 minimum order requirement,   you can purchase one of everything we have in stock if that’s what you want to do.

Customer Service – A friendly voice on the other end of the phone when you have a problem or question can be invaluable.   EnMart’s customer service staff is dedicated to providing fast,  efficient service,   while also being friendly and approachable.   We make an effort to get to know our customers and remember their preferences.    A supply company and a customer service rep that knows your company can be a valuable source of support and advice.

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What’s the Best Printing Method?

question-markYou have a shirt – or a tote bag – or a mug or mouse pad – and you want to put a design on it.  You also have,  since this my scenario,  access to several methods by which you can print these items – a direct to garment printer,  a screen printing press and inks and a sublimation printer and inks.   The question many people would ask at this point is the question in the title;  which of these options is the best printing method?   The answer we’d give you?

That depends.

There are several factors which will determine what printing method works best,  and there is no single method that will always be the best option in every situation.  Determining the print method that should be used requires knowing things about the substrate your going to print as well as understanding the properties of the machines and inks you’ll be using to make the print.   If you understand both the substrate and the process you’ll be using to print it,  you’ll make the best choice and produce the best print – both for the substrate in question and for your customers.

So,  that said,  what should you look at when deciding which method to use?

First,  look at fabric type.   Fabric type can make a difference because certain fabrics won’t work well with certain printing disciplines.   Sublimation,  for instance,  only works on polyester.   It can be done on polyester blends,  but only if a distressed look is the end result.    On the other hand,  screen printing on polyester can be problematic because of dye migration,  which means the ink bleeds into the fabric.    Some of this can be avoided by using an underbase,  but it should be considered.    If the fabric is cotton,  sublimation is out,  as it won’t work on cotton.   Screen printing or direct to garment printing would work,  it just depends on the sort of finished look the customer desires.

Second, color is another issue.   Sublimation does not offer a white ink option – so it only works on light colors.    If the goal is to sublimate a dark shirt,  about the only option would be to sublimate a lighter piece of poly fabric and attach it to the shirt.  Direct to garment printing and screen printing both allow for the printing of a light colored underbase,  over which a colored print can be laid,  so they’re often better options for dark colored garments.

Third,  hard goods have different rules.  If the substrate to be printed is not a garment,  the printing choices become somewhat more limited.   Should the item in question be blank that is coated for sublimation, then sublimation would clearly be an option.   In some cases,  posters for instance,  screen printing might be an option.  Screen printing can also be done on things like can coozies and certain types of water bottles.    Direct to garment printing,  as the name implies, is generally confined to wearables.

Obviously,  this is a basic overview,  but it offers a bit of insight into printing methods and how to determine which one will work in a given situation.   The main thing to remember is that each printing method will have strengths and limitations,  and knowing those strengths and limitations will ensure that you offer the best option to your customer when the time comes to print.

 

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Sublimation and Multimedia Decorating

puzzle-piecesMultimedia decorating,  which is essentially decorating a garment or wearable by combining two or more decoration techniques,  is a popular way to add a lot of visual interest to a garment.  When people talk about multimedia decorating,  however,  they tend to talk about adding rhinestones to embroidery,  or combining vinyl with screen print.   Sublimation is often left out of the conversation,  which is sad,  because sublimation can combine quite well with a number of other decoration techniques to create a one of a kind garment for your customer.

Let’s start with embroidery.    One of the fun parts of machine embroidery is that it can be done with polyester thread.   Polyester is the material that can be dyed by sublimation inks.   So,  it is possible to embroider a design using white polyester thread,  and then to sublimate another design in color on top of the thread.    This also has the advantage of giving the design a bit of a 3-D effect,  since the embroidery will be slightly raised.   Another option is to sublimate the garment first and then embroider over portions of the sublimated design.   Either way,  combining sublimation and embroidery will add visual interest and definition to the finished design.

Next up is vinyl.   There are many heat transfer vinyls that will also work for sublimation.   Get some glitter vinyl and make a sublimated design that sparkles!   Another advantage to using vinyl is that a vinyl transfer can often be applied to fabric types other than nylon.   If you want to put a sublimated design on a cotton shirt,  put the design on vinyl and it can be added to the shirt without a problem and without loss of color.  Sublimating on vinyl,  particularly glitter vinyl,  could prove very popular with cheer and dance teams and certainly could add some sparkle to fashion designs.

Another option for a multimedia design using sublimation and another decoration technique is rhinestones.    Anyone who likes bling will already be aware of rhinestones and how they can be used to add sparkle and shine to garments.   Combining rhinestones with sublimation allows for full color prints embellished by rhinestones,  which give the design flash and a bit of height.   Rhinestones can be incorporated into the design by hand,  or through the use of a rhinestone template.

When considering which decoration techniques to combine with sublimation,  there are a few things to keep in mind.   One is that sublimation requires heat,  and relatively high heat at that.  Some inks or vinyls might not react well to the temperatures that sublimation requires,  so keep that in mind.   Another thing to remember is that the decoration technique chosen must compliment sublimation and work with the sublimated design.   The best multimedia pieces are the ones where both decoration techniques combine to make a design that is fresh and interesting.

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T’was the Night Before Christmas – Sublimation Version

christmas2010wallpapers16Note: I first wrote this parody of The Night Before Christmas in 2011. It amused me, and some other people, so I thought it was worth making it a Christmas tradition.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the shop
All the printers were printing and going non-stop
The pressers were pressing with all of their might
For presents, for Christmas, were needed that night

The t-shirts were folded up neatly and boxed
And dreaming of sublimation transfers that rocked
And mamma in her apron and I in the same
Were printing sports jerseys with numbers and names

When out front of the shop there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my work to see what was the matter
Away to the entrance I stumbled pell-mell
Threw open the door and screamed out “What the … bell?”

I clung to the doorframe, exhausted and drawn
Wondering where all the daylight had gone
A miniature sleigh, and Santa, plus eight
Reminded me quickly that orders were late.

The little old driver, that lively St. Nick
Cried, “Bring me those orders, and move them out quick!”
Bring mousepads, bring mugs and t-shirts galore
Bring bookmarks and puzzles and tote bags and more!

Now Printer, you know this, stop looking so ill
There’s children, world over, with stockings to fill
Bring jerseys; bring car flags, and maybe a plaque
But hurry, please hurry and fill up my sack!

I’d never made claim to being an elf,
But found, by St. Nick, I could not help myself
The printers sprayed color, the heat presses pressed
And presents were finished for Santa’s great quest

The last transfer was printed, the last item dyed
When I turned to find Santa smiling by my side
“Printer you’ve done it!” he said with a grin
And his sack started bulging as the last gift went in

Whether mugs for a latte, plain coffee or tea
A puzzle, a clipboard, a box for jewelry
A key chain or shirt with a logo so bright
There’ll be happy children with gifts made this night

How Santa’s eyes twinkled, his belly it shook
As he gave me the kindest and nicest of looks
His laughter was merry, his praise much desired
My gifts had passed muster and were much admired

As I stood in my shop, all the gifts finally made
The stress of the holidays started to fade
Personalized gifts, sublimated, jolly and fun
Would delight gift recipients, every last one

With a wink and a nod Santa sprang to his sleigh
Gave a flip of the reins and was flying away
His bag bulging with presents, his sleigh loaded down
He set off to being joy to every city and town

I laughed as I saw him, that jolly old elf
Flying off with gifts made by my very own self
With his bag full of pet tags and beer mugs and all
I waved as he flew off and then heard him call

Hey Printer, keep working, there’s always next year
And I’ll be returning now never you fear
Until then, keep printing, with colors so bright
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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2017 Sublimation Trends to Watch

child clothesline with socks, isolated on white background

One of the fun things about sublimation is how the craft is always evolving.   As new products and new techniques are developed,   the horizons of what sublimation can do,  and what can be sublimated expand.   Sublimation isn’t just for mugs and mousepads,  although those can be profitable items.    In 2016,  new items have become available for sublimation,  and new techniques and uses as well.   Building on what’s happened in 2016,  these are some of things we predict will be the trends in sublimation for 2017.

Socks – Colorful, decorated socks have been a trend for a while now.   Some people,  especially men, have taken to wearing colorful socks to express their individuality and deal with the conformity that business wear requires.   Socks that can be sublimated are now available from companies like Vapor Apparel.    Capture this trend by offering sublimated socks to your customers.   They’d be great sellers for high school sports teams,  bands or cheer squads.    Decorated socks could also make fun souvenirs for gift shops.

Multimedia – Many decorators are discovering that sublimation goes well with other decoration disciplines.  Whether it’s adding bling to a sublimated design with rhinestones,  or adding texture with embroidery or vinyl,  sublimation plays well with others,  and the resulting designs are definitely fun to view and to wear.   The trick to combining sublimation with another discipline is to find a design that recognizes and uses the separate strong points of each decoration technique,  and combines them to create a design that is greater than the sum of its parts. Multimedia designs can be great sellers for dance and cheer clubs,  or for a group or company that wants corporate logowear that offers a little extra flash.

Bandanas, beanies and bibs – Sublimation is not just for shirts anymore.  When it comes to wearable sublimated garments,  new options,  like bandanas and beanies,  are popping up regularly.   Sublimatable wearable accessories also extend to bracelets and necklaces,  headbands and hand warmers.   Baby is even getting into the act with sublimatable bibs and onesies.   It is now possible to make an entire business out of sublimating small wearables and accessories.

Patches – Many fashion magazines have been proclaiming 2016 as the year that the decorated patch made a comeback.     Patches as decorative accents,  not simply to provide identification or to cover a hole in a garment,  are seeing a resurgence.   Sublimated patches are a great way to capitalize on this trend.    Whether you buy blank patches and sublimate them yourself,   or purchase patches that have already been sublimated,   selling patches can be a lucrative profit center.

 

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New Sublimation Blanks = Great Holiday Gifts

beltbuckle1_lThe holidays are coming,  and one thing that is always true about the holidays is that people love personalized gifts.   EnMart has added some great new sublimation blanks to our offerings this year.  We’re sure one of these new items will make the perfect gift for someone on your gift list!

Belt Buckles – Our belt buckles can be easily personalized with sublimation.   The sublimation insert is large enough that the image can be clearly seen,  but not so large that it looks like the gift recipient is wearing a championship belt of some kind.   All buckles are made of brass and accompanied by a sublimatable insert.

State Ornaments – While we don’t yet carry every state,  our stock of state ornaments is growing.   Celebrate the sun with an ornament in the shape of Alabama or California or Florida.    Show your midwest roots and display an ornament in the shape of Illinois or Michigan.    Create ornaments to celebrate a favorite vacation spot or to commemorate a hometown that may now be far away.    Keep in mind,  this item can also be used as a luggage tag or a souvenir.

Pendants  – A personalized necklace is something anyone who wears necklaces would be sure to love.    Available as both a square and a round,  these pendants have patterned embossed back and are recessed to accept an aluminum sublimation insert.    Sublimate a family picture,   a favorite saying,  or simply an intriguing design to create a one of a kind piece that is sure to be treasured.

Pet Tags – Don’t forget Fido or Fifi when handing out the gift wrapped packages this year.     Sublimatable pet tags are a great way to identify your pet and give them a bit of style.   Our pet tags are aluminum and can be printed on both sides.    These tags are also great options for key fobs,  luggage tags,  zipper pulls or necklaces.

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Sublimation Section Update

sublimation blanksIf you haven’t been to the sublimation section of our website lately,  you may want to pop in and take a look.   We’ve added some new things and rearranged things a bit to make it easier to find the items you want to purchase.     Today I thought I’d give you a brief tour.

First let’s start with the sublimation blanks section,  as that has probably had the biggest overhaul.    We added some new items,  like blank fabric and Christmas stockings and also now include Vapor Apparel in the sublimation blanks section.    If you’re looking for mugs,  mousepads,  t-shirts or ornaments,  this is the section to visit.

In the sublimation ink section,   you can find all the ink you would need for your Ricoh or Virtuoso sublimation printers.   Inks are sorted by the printer for which they are intended.   If you have an Epson printer,  or don’t see the ink for your Ricoh printer on our list,  please contact us and ask about it.  We sell all currently available Sawgrass inks, and can obtain and stock anything that isn’t in our current inventory on request.

We are proud to say we still offer Mpres Paper,  the only paper we carry and exclusive to EnMart.    The paper is still getting rave reviews on our Facebook page.   It’s a great paper and one we not only sell,  but use as well.   If you’re interested in a sample,  send your request with address information to mpres@myenmart.com.    We’ll be happy to send you a sample via USPS.

Finally,  we should talk about the sublimation accessories category,  which has also had some new arrivals.  We’ve added individual PFTE pressing pillows as well as a pressing pillow kit.  We also have waste ink collectors,  heat tape and mug and bowl wraps.  If you need items to make your sublimation go more smoothly,  this is the category to visit.

 

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Custom Sublimated Patches

sublimated patchesSublimated patches can be a great way to present artwork that may have traits that would not allow it to render well in another decoration discipline.   Gradients and fades don’t work well with embroidery.   Tiny details may not show up as well on a screen printed emblem.   Sublimation offers photographic detail and the ability to play with color,  all at a price that is easily within most shops’ budgets.

Many shops will elect to create sublimate patches themselves.  For those that have a sublimation system and access to blank patches,  this may seem like the easiest route to take,  but that isn’t always the case.   EnMart can create custom blank patches at very reasonable prices,  relieving a shop’s burden of production and freeing up time for other revenue generating activities.

If you’ve never ordered a sublimated patch from EnMart,  it’s really quite easy to do.

  1. Go to the sublimated patch section.
  2. Select the shape for your patch.
  3. Select the size.
  4. Select your merrow color (this should harmonize with the colors in the artwork) and the number of patches you wish to order (minimum order is 25).
  5. Complete the order.
  6. E-mail artwork to design@myenmart.com.   Make sure to include your order number in the subject line.

It’s that simple.   Creating sublimated patches will take a few days at most,  depending on the size of the order.    If your shop sells patches,  but doesn’t have the ability to sublimate them,  or if your shop sublimates patches in house,  but could use the time to do other things,  order your sublimated patches from EnMart.   You’ll save time and money,  and your clients will get a quality product they can wear proudly.

 

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Sublimation Package Offer

system pictureEnMart’s sublimation packages have always been a great value,  we designed them to provide everything (except a heat press, accessories and blanks) needed for sublimation at an affordable price.  This June, however,  we’ve upped the ante,  and the value,  and put together a special that is truly unprecedented.

We know sublimation can be a great profit center for a decoration business,  we have customers that are making that happen every day.   We also know that sometimes taking the step required to purchase a system can be tough.   Any business that puts out money for equipment has to be reasonably sure of a return on their investment.  They also want to be sure they’re getting the most value for every dollar spent.

If you’re thinking of investing in a sublimation system,  and want the most flexibility in the size and type of products you can sublimate,  a Virtuoso SG800 system is your best bet.   It offers the most flexibility in paper sizes, and offers larger paper sizes than the SG400.    From now until June 30,  EnMart is making all of our SG800 packages available with the following FREE extras:

You must call us at 866-516-1300 (select option 3)  to place your order.  Offer is valid until midnight,  June 30, 2016.

 

Sublimation: Garments vs. Hard Goods

sublimation blanks. jpgOne of the questions we frequently get when discussing sublimation is a fairly simple one “What can you sublimate?”.   The answer,  the basic one,  is fairly simple too,  anything made of polyester fabric or with a poly coating.    Where it becomes complicated is when the question morphs from simply “what can I sublimate” to “what kind of garments can I sublimate” or “what sells better sublimated hard goods or sublimated garments?” or the ever popular “I’m adding sublimation to my shop,  what sublimated goods should I offer?”.

One way to answer these questions is to consider the market to which you will be selling.    Some markets love hard goods,  personalized puzzles,   water bottles for fun runs,   plaques for sporting competitions,  souvenirs for local tourist attractions,  all that stuff can be snapped up quickly.    Other markets,  on the other hand,   are all about garments.    Sweatshirts,  polos,  hats,  socks,  you name it,  they want it decorated.    In this market,  hardgoods would not have as much appeal.     So,  a lot depends on the make-up and preferences of your particular market.   You have to know that before deciding what sublimated items to offer.

Another way to answer the question is to look at the possibilities.   Sublimation can be a great method for decorating garments,  but it does have some limitations.   The items to be decorated must be polyester only.   Because sublimation dyes the fabric,  anything but a white garment will interact with and effect the color of the finished design.    Sublimation also has no option for white ink,  so it doesn’t work well on very dark colors.   All over sublimation is very popular,  but it works best on fabric which is sublimated and then sewn into a garment.     On the other side of the coin, however,  sublimation dyes the fabric,  so designs have no hand.  Because designs are dyed into the garment,  the design is also pretty much guaranteed to last as long as the garment does.   There have also been great advances in the look and wearability of polyester garments,  so they are now much more attractive to consumers.

When it comes to hardgoods,  the first thing to mention is that anything that is to be sublimated must have a polyester coating.   There are a number of distributors,  EnMart among them,  who sell sublimatible blanks,   so finding a source for hardgoods to sublimate shouldn’t be too difficult.    The problem here may be that a decorator would be spoiled for choice,  faced with such an array of blanks from which to choose.   It should also be noted that mastering the technique necessary for sublimating some hardgoods may take time and practice.    Sublimating hardgoods may also require special jigs or platens for a heat press,  so that should be considered as well.

In the final analysis,   the items you sublimate will most likely be determined partly by what the market wants,  partly by what you enjoy doing,  and partly by what items you put in the effort to sell.    There is no hard and fast rule about what sublimated good will work for every situation.   It’s up to you to do the research and to know your market well enough to make educated choices about what sublimated goods to stock.