Tag: Sawgrass Ink

Reasons NOT To Try Sublimation (2017 Edition)

A few months short of seven years ago,  I wrote a tongue in cheek post listing 5 reasons not to buy a sublimation system.   While I wrote that post with a light hearted slant,  the intent behind it was to make people think about what sublimation could offer and why a decorator might want to try sublimation.  Roughly seven years later,  we still think that sublimation is a good way to create a profit center for your business and we still advise and encourage those who want to get started with sublimation to give it a try.

Still,  as the post from 2010 says,  there were reasons then not to buy a system and there are still reasons today not to get involved with sublimation.   Here are a few that have cropped up since the original post was written.

Reason 1:  Creative Studio makes design too easy – One of the obstacles to starting with sublimation, for some people anyway,  was the fact that you really needed to know how to use some sort of graphic design program.   Since the release of Sawgrass Ink’s Creative Studio,  a lack of graphic design expertise is no longer an issue.   Creative Studio is designed to be easy to use and doesn’t require an incessant watching of tutorials or reading of manuals.   Using this software,  you can learn to create print ready designs in a matter of minutes.   Best of all, Creative Studio comes free with any Virtuoso Printing System.

Reason 2:  Virtuoso Printing Systems are adapted for sublimation – Nozzle checks take time.  Clogged printheads lead to uneven prints.  One of the issues with sublimation, historically, has been that printers that weren’t designed for sublimation were being used to print transfers.   It made the whole process challenging.   Now,  some of that challenge has been eliminated.  The Virtuoso SG400 and SG800 are the first printers designed specifically with sublimation in mind.   Sawgrass Ink partnered with Ricoh to develop these printers on the Ricoh platform,  taking into account the special requirements of printing sublimation transfers.  The result is a printer that prints fast and with dazzling color.

Reason 3:  So many blanks,  so hard to choose – As sublimation has gotten more popular,  the number of blanks that are available to be sublimated has steadily increased.   Whether it’s a greater array of garments that can be sublimated,   or a larger spectrum of hard goods,  it will take time to decide which blanks you want to offer.     You can even decide to specialize in a particular kind of mug,  or coaster or cutting board,  and make a living doing so.   The possibilities are endless,  and who needs to spend brain power narrowing them down?

Reason 4:  So many places to sell,  so little time – The markets for sublimation have exploded in the last few years.   People are selling on their own sites,  or on sites like CafePress or Zazzle or Etsy.    Some are setting up their own websites.   Other people load a printer and a press and take their business on the road,  printing at sporting events or trade shows.    There’s money to be made in so many places,  no one has the time to get to them all.

Obviously,  like the last post,  this one is intended to be a funny way to make you think about getting started with sublimation.    If you are interested in learning more about sublimation and adding it to your business,  contact us.    We’ll be happy to give give you some advice on and assistance in getting started.

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PowerDriver Version 4 Now Available

PD4-IconThose of you who sublimate are most likely familiar with the Sawgrass PowerDriver print and color management solution.   Sawgrass has now announced that a new version of the software,  Version 4,  is now available.    The new software is now available for both the Ricoh SG 3110DN and Ricoh SG 7100DN inkjet printers.

Version 4 of the software was developed after input from resellers and end users.   The new version is designed to improve the end user experience  and offers a higher level of performance.   The goal was to provide a product that supplied desired options and functions while still being easy to use.

PowerDrive Version 4 offers a variety of new functions that will be helpful to the end user.   These include:

 

  • Faster and easier installation
  • A simpler user interface
  • Advanced color controls
  • Pre-sets for common products
  • Pre-sets that can be customized by individual users
  • RGB color palettes for spot color matching
  • Multi-language versions and support

This new version of the software also contains a Resources Tab,  which provides link to helpful portions of the Sawagrass Ink website.   Through this tab you can access Technical Support,  Sawgrass Education,   and the Sawgrass website itself.

Adding Sublimation to an Embroidery Business

As many of you may already know,  EnMart presented a webinar yesterday in association with Sawgrass Ink.   I want to say thank you to all of you who attended the webinar.   I hope it was informative and helpful.

For those of you who were not able to attend the webinar yesterday,  we have uploaded the entire webinar to EnMart’s YouTube page.   I am also making it available here on the blog for those who are interested.

If you were not previously aware of this webinar,  it deals with the following topic:

Adding Sublimation To An Embroidery Business

Sublimation is an ideal fit for any embroidery business as it allows you to expand your market reach with a wide range of new products, such as full-color t-shirts. However, the processes are quite different when it comes to implementation. From art to setup to production to pricing, digital decoration lives in a unique world all of its own.  Spend some time with Embroidery Professionals who will show you everything you need to know to add sublimation to your embroidery business.

EnMart is considering doing some more webinars with Sawgrass Ink in the future.  If you have any suggestions for topics we ought to cover,  please do share them with us.

EnMart is Having A Webinar and You’re Invited

learnAlmost anyone who sublimates is probably familiar with the webinars offered by Sawgrass Ink.     These webinars are great little education sessions, offered online and each deals with a specific topic that is of interest and help to people working with sublimation.

EnMart has always been dedicated to helping our customers get the most from their sublimation equipment and supplies,  and part of doing that is providing information and opportunities for education.   We are proud to announce that we will be offering a webinar,  in cooperation with Sawgrass Ink, on June 25.  It is scheduled for 4pm EDT / 3pm CDT.

Because a great many of our customers are embroiderers,  it made sense that our first webinar would deal with adding sublimation to an existing embroidery business.    We’ve talked several times on this blog and in other places about how well sublimation and embroidery mesh,  and how the options for a business expand when both decorating disciplines are available.   Now,  through this webinar,  you can learn from embroidery professionals who already do sublimation,  and get tips and information on how to successfully add sublimation to your business and increase your profits.

The webinar content is as follows:

Adding Sublimation To An Embroidery Business

Sublimation is an ideal fit for any embroidery business as it allows you to expand your market reach with a wide range of new products, such as full-color t-shirts. However, the processes are quite different when it comes to implementation. From art to setup to production to pricing, digital decoration lives in a unique world all of its own.  Spend some time with Embroidery Professionals who will show you everything you need to know to add sublimation to your embroidery business.

You may register for the webinar here:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/249395930

 UPDATE:  THIS WEBINAR HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO TUESDAY, JULY 9.   THE TIMES REMAIN THE SAME.

Six Tips for Successfully Sublimating Several Substrates*

six tipsOne of the beauties of sublimation is that it isn’t limited to one type of item.  You don’t have to just embellish garments,  or just work with fabric,  or just work with hard goods and never work with fabric.  Sublimation allows you to decorate a wide variety of items,  some fabric,  some hard goods and some in the spectrum in between.  While each specific item will have its own unique characteristics,  there are some things that are fairly universal.   Here are six tips that can help you in sublimating almost any substrate,  from poly t-shirts to puzzles and mousepads to mugs.

Tip 1:  Each item is different, read the instructions and then test – It’s easy to think that a ceramic tile is a ceramic tile or a polyester shirt is the same regardless of manufacturer,  but that isn’t always the case.   Make sure you read the instructions specific to the item you are pressing and then do a test run before you start your production run.  Each heat press, batch of ink and substrate will react a little differently.  Purchasing one extra item to test can save you a ton of money in ruined items down the line.

Tip 2:  Too much moisture is a bad thing – If the room where you’re sublimating is too humid,  it can cause problems with your paper and with the items you’re sublimating.   Make sure your sublimation paper is stored in a cool dry place.   If you suspect your paper is too moist put it on your press for several seconds to to evaporate the moisture.  You can also press garments for 10 seconds if they’re retaining more moisture than they should.  It may also be a good idea to use an absorbent cloth or a non textured paper towel behind your transfer to absorb excess moisture.

Tip 3:  Don’t leave the transfer on too long – This tip may be especially relevant when it comes to ceramics, like tiles or mugs.   Removing the transfer quickly helps prevent ghosting of the image and prevents the paper from sticking.  Once the paper has been removed,  cooling the ceramic in a bucket of water is recommended.

Tip 4:  Make sure your pressing time is just right –  Press your item for too few seconds and you won’t get a good print,  in the case of garments,  you may even get a print that washes out too quickly,  as the ink hasn’t had time to dye the fibers.   Press the item for too long and you could get image fade on fabric,  or ghosting on ceramic items.   Check the instructions for the item you’re pressing to be sure you’re sublimating at the right time and temperature.

Tip 5:  You will make a mistake.  Deal with it –  In my opinion, one of the biggest problems novice sublimators have is the fear that they’ll make a mistake and ruin an expensive blank.   I hate to be the bearer of bad news,  but that will happen.  Plan for it to happen,  deal with it when it does happen and move on.   Don’t let fear of making a mistake stop you from ever trying at all.

Tip 6:  Information is your friend –  The more you know,  the better you can sublimate.   Sawgrass has a whole host of videos and webinars that can help you learn to sublimate specific items.   Blogs like this one will give you tips and provide advice and encouragement.   Forums like T-shirt Forums or the ADF Forum have whole sections devoted to sublimation.    Google and read and study and learn and then practice,  that’s the best way to get better at sublimation.

 

*Yes,  I like a bit of alliteration on occasion.   Why do you ask?

5 Steps to Sublimation Success in 2013

stepsEnMart’s parent company,  Ensign Emblem, has been working with inkjet sublimation practically as long as inkjet sublimation has existed.   We know the benefits of adding sublimation to a business because we’ve helped a great many businesses  do just that.    If you’re looking for a new profit center in 2013,  or searching for a relatively inexpensive way to start a business of your own,  sublimation may be just the thing for which you’ve been looking.    Make 2013 your most profitable year ever by following EnMart’s 5 steps to sublimation success.

Step 1:  Buy your equipment and supplies from a dealer who knows sublimation –  I know many of you probably thought I’d say that step one should be buy from EnMart,  and I do think you should buy from us,  but I won’t say we’re the only company out there who sells sublimation supplies knowledgeably and at a reasonable price.   Take your time,  do your research and ask questions of the companies from which you are thinking of buying.  Go with the one that suits you best and provides the information and experience you require.   Personally,  I think if you talk to us,  the company you choose will be EnMart.

Step 2:  Take your purchases out of their boxes – I can’t tell you how many times someone has called me and said they bought a sublimation system at a show months ago and never took it out of the box.   A system that isn’t used can’t generate revenue.  Don’t let your sublimation system gather dust in a corner.  Take it out,  set it up and turn it on.

Step 3:  Make mistakes, lots of them  – Let’s get this out of the way now,  you will screw up.   You’ll sublimate a design upside down.   You’ll leave something on the heat press too long or not long enough.   Learning the graphics software you choose will be more difficult than you anticipated.   You will waste money and time,  completely unintentionally,  but it will happen.  Make peace with that fact and don’t let fear of screwing up keep you from even trying.

Step 4:  Learn –  Sawgrass has a wide variety of videos and webinars which can help you learn various aspects of the sublimation business.    Attending a trade show is always a great way to learn more.    Reading blogs, like this one,  can give you lots of hints and tips.     Download the Dye Sublimation Guide from our website.    Read and watch and ask questions  all with the goal of getting better at sublimation today than you were yesterday.

Step 5:  Sell – Once you’ve got your sublimation system up and running,  it’s time to let people know what you can do and start soliciting orders.   Post pictures of your work on your company Facebook page.   Set up a table at a local market.   Create an intriguing display in a corner of your shop.  Contact your current customers and let them know about your new capabilities.  Network with future customers to find out what sublimated goods they might wish to buy.

Decoration Intimidation

The first title for this post was sublimation intimidation,  but I soon realized that the problem doesn’t just lie with sublimation,  it could involve a heat press, or an embroidery machine or a direct to garment printer or almost any piece of equipment that can be used for decoration.    The issue I want to discuss today is the fact that new equipment and new decorating practices can often seem intimidating and that taking the first step and just getting started is often the most difficult part of the whole process.    I think almost all of us have experienced this form of intimidation at one time or another.  The question we need to answer is how to get past the intimidation factor and move on to successfully using your equipment.

The first thing to remember is that your equipment is tougher than you think.   Yes,  it is possible to break a machine or a printer,  but that probably isn’t going to happen if you push a button or send a print job.   Most manufacturers or suppliers will also send printed instructions or direct you to a website which can help you with set up.    There is also always a tech support option if you get really confused.   Before you do anything else,  you have to take the machines out of their boxes or crates and get them running.   A machine you’ve spent good money on that never gets used certainly isn’t going to be a good return on your investment.

The second thing to remember is that you will screw up.   You’ll print something backwards.  You’ll put something on the heat press the wrong way around and get ink on the platen.  You’ll sublimate something for too long or for not long enough and end up ruining a blank.    Mistakes will happen,  but they aren’t the end of the world.   EnMart sends practice fabric with our sublimation systems precisely because errors happen, and it’s always best to  build a mistake fund into your budget,  that way you can make mistakes without impacting your bottom line.  It is also a good idea to not take any rush jobs until you’re familiar with and secure in your ability to operate your equipment.  Nothing screws up a learning curve like deadline pressures.

Third,  remember that there are resources out there to help you learn how to use your equipment and be successful at whatever decorating discipline you choose.   There are blogs like this one.   For sublimation and ChromaBlast system owners,  Sawgrass has a variety of education and technical support information on their website.  Many suppliers will offer videos or instructional downloads for the machines or supplies they sell.   There are also forums and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter which provide a place to ask questions and find help.

What it comes down to in the end is being willing to work past the intimidation to give something new a try.   You did the research,  you decided what decoration discipline you wanted to add to your business,  you purchased the necessary equipment and supplies,  and now you’re too intimidated to take the stuff out of the box.   You’ve already made a monetary investment,  now make an investment in courage and in time.   After all, equipment that’s left in a box only generates revenue for the person who sold it.

PowerDriver Color Management Software

If you’re wondering about color management for your sublimation projects,  EnMart wants you to know that we include a CD containing Sawgrass Ink’s PowerDriver color management software in each sublimation combo package we sell.  The PowerDriver software was developed specifically for SubliJet desktop sublimation and offers advanced color output and a higher level of functionality.   Using this software will help you achieve accurate, brilliant color, whether you’re on your printing transfer number five or transfer number five hundred.

The PowerDriver software contains the ColorSure palette,  which includes 170 colors.    Using the palette,  you can control how the colors in your image will look when they are transferred.   The palette must be loaded into your graphic design software.  Once it is loaded, you should have one step color matching,  allowing you to duplicate custom colors for particular orders.

Please note,  PowerDriver software will not run on a Macintosh computer.   The software was written specifically for a Windows platform.   If you use a Mac,  you can either sublimate using ArTainium ink,  which does offer a set up that is compatible with the Mac platform.   It is not recommended that a generic color driver be used with sublimation inks,  as the results may not be the quality required.

Sublimation Start Up

We recently did some crunching of the numbers for 2011 and discovered that one of the most popular items that we sell at trade shows is our QuickStartR package.   That’s really no surprise,  the package is a great offer and reasonably priced.  What was a surprise, however,  is the number of people we spoke with on follow up calls who, even months after the show was long over,  had not yet set their system up or weren’t printing with it on a regular basis.

Very few people, obviously,  purchase a product for their business with the intention of letting it sit in a corner and gather dust.    The goal behind the purchase is to create a new profit center,  which can’t be done if the system never comes out of the box or is barely used after it’s set up.   If you have a system and haven’t yet done much of anything with it,  here are some places you can look for help in getting started.

One place to turn to for help is the Sawgrass Ink website.   They have how to videos,  webinars,  videos on how to set up your printer and a terrific technical support staff.   Sawgrass also has a blog called How to Sublimate.   The Sawgrass site provides a lot of resources,  so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Another option would be to download the Dye Sublimation Guide from the EnMart website.   This guide was created by Sawgrass and contains a lot of information about how to get started with sublimation.  The guide also contains step by step instructions for sublimating some common items.   The entire guide is 62 pages long,  so it could easily be printed.

EnMart also has a YouTube channel where you can see videos about sublimation and about Knight heat presses.  We’ve put together some videos of our own and also favorited some videos from our suppliers which should be helpful.   Sometimes a picture, or a video is worth a thousand words.

Finally, you can get help here on this blog.  We have an entire category of blog posts devoted to getting started with sublimation.    You can always leave a comment on a post with questions.   You can also visit us on our Twitter feed or Facebook page and ask questions there.

Four Sublimation Resolutions

Since it’s the week before Christmas and New Years,  I thought it would be a good time to write about some of the sublimation resolutions that people who own sublimation systems could make for 2012.    If you currently own a sublimation system,  you might consider adding one of these resolutions to your list.

Resolution 1:  I will take the system out of the box –  I know,  for some people,  the whole sublimation process can be intimidating.   Trying something new is always a little alarming,  but the reality is that there isn’t a lot of harm you can do here.  At worst,  you’ll waste a little ink and some supplies,  which isn’t the end of the world.    The only way to get better at something is to accept that you might screw up a little at first.   The only way to get better at sublimation is to give it a try, ask lots of questions and accept that a few things will end up on the reject shelf.   The only way you’re sure to never get better at sublimation is if you leave the printer in the box.

Resolution 2:  I will sublimate something new – Many people buy their sublimation system with a specific product in mind.  Maybe it’s mousepads or t-shirts or mugs,  but that one product is the product on which they focus.  There is certainly nothing wrong with specializing and becoming expert at sublimating one thing,  but don’t forget that there are a wide variety of products out there that can be sublimated.  In 2012,  try sublimating something new.  You may discover another product line which can be added to your inventory.

Resolution 3:  I will publicize my sublimation services – Shops that do more than one thing,  embroidery and sublimation or silk screen and sublimation for instance,  may tend to publicize one thing more than the other.  Since sublimation can often be the add on service,  it may not get publicized as much, and that’s a shame,  because sublimation can be a real revenue generator.    If you’ve been considering sublimation as an add-on,  take a moment to consider all the products that can be sublimated, and how they could bring additional profit to your shop.   In 2012, make sure your customers know what you can sublimate and how inexpensive sublimated goods can be.

Resolution 4:  I will learn more about some aspect of sublimation and increase my skill level –  With all the resources available,  there is absolutely no reason not to learn more about sublimation.   Sawgrass Ink has an entire education section on their website.   Most of the larger trade shows feature seminars about sublimation.    Blogs like this one offer tips and tricks.   Even if you consider yourself a sublimation superstar,  there’s always something new to be learned.    Take advantage of the knowledge that’s available.

Whatever resolution you decide to make about sublimation,  or if you decide to make no resolution at all,  you can always be sure that EnMart will be here to help with your sublimation needs.  If you have any questions or need supplies,  just contact us,  we’ll be happy to help.