Tag: sublimation blanks

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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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 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.

 

Dye Sublimation for the Holidays

christmas_snow_trees-wideIt’s the holiday season and a great many decorators are currently hip deep in one of kind gifts they’re creating for holiday giving.   For those who offer sublimation,  the holiday season is a perfect time to offer current and new customers some great sublimated gift suggestions that are sure to wow any recipient.   If you’re out of ideas for what to suggest,  we can help.   Here are some of our favorite sublimated holiday gifts.

Ornaments – A personalized ornament is a keep sake that the recipient will treasure for years.   Whether you’re commemorating baby’s first Christmas,  or simply creating an ornament with a favorite family photo,  personalized ornaments are a great way to add special memories to the family tree.  Sublimated ceramic ornaments are also durable and full color.

Pet Products – When I was a kid,  and still today,  now that I think about it,  any pets in the family get a present at Christmas.   Usually it’s a chewy bone or a new toy,  but there’s no law that says that the family pet also couldn’t get a new pet tag,  or a personalized bowl.   Pets are generally like small children,  they’re more interested in ripping the paper on the package than they are in what’s inside.

Jewelry/Keepsake Boxes – What kid wouldn’t love a personalized keepsake box,  particularly if it was filled with items like baseball cards or hair accessories.    A personalized jewelry box is also a great way to gift a special piece of jewelry to that special someone.   The box,  along with the jewelry preserves the memory of the special occasion.

Kitchen Accessories – From cutting boards to coasters to drinkware of all types,  accessories for the kitchen or entertaining are always popular gifts.  Create a set of personalized coffee mugs.   Make cuttings boards featuring popular local scenes.   Create a set of coasters for the family room.  The ideas for sublimated kitchen accessories are limitless.

Puzzles – Puzzles have been providing hours of fun for families for years.   A sublimated puzzle is a way to take a treasured family photo and turn it into something that is not only a memory,  but entertainment.

4 Reasons to Add Sublimation to Your Shop

four_previewPeople who are not currently sublimating often ask why they need to add dye sublimation (often just referred to as sublimation for brevity’s sake)  to the decoration processes their shop offers.   Now,  let me say up front,  no one needs to add sublimation to their shop.    If you choose not to offer sublimation services,  the world will not spin off its axis,  a meteor will not hit your shop,  and things will go along as they normally do without any horrific consequences.   The only bad thing that will happen is that someone else in your market will be making a profit on sublimated goods and your shop will not.   So, really the question is not why do you need to add sublimation to the decoration techniques your shop offers,  but why you should want to add sublimation.     Here are a few reasons why we think most shops would want to add sublimation.

1.  It’s a new profit center –  In order to stay profitable,  shops need to diversify.   While there are shops out there that do only one thing and make a living that way,  most decorators have learned to offer a variety of decoration techniques.   Sublimation is simply another decoration technique to have in your arsenal.

2.  Sublimation opens up new products – If you’ve primarily decorated clothes,  adding sublimation to your shop allows you to add hard goods,  mugs,  plaques and the like.  There are a wide variety of sublimation blanks available for decoration and an equal variety of markets to which those goods can be sold.   Adding sublimation gives your shop the ability to offer additional categories of goods,  and to capture additional dollars when a client places a clothing order.

3. Financial barriers to entry are comparatively low – We’re not saying that sublimation is inexpensive,  larger printer packages can be in the $1500 to $2000 range,  and a quality heat press can add another few thousand dollars to that total,   plus the price of blanks.   Still,  when comparing that cost to the cost of a new DTG printer or screen printing press,  sublimation is a relatively economical way to get started in a new business.

4. The learning curve is fairly low – Yes,  sublimation is a decoration discipline and, as such,  it has its own quirks and tricks that need to be learned and understood.    That said,  if you can use graphics software,  know how to print to an inkjet printer and understand how to use a heat press,  you can sublimate.   There are a number of resources out there to help you get started,  and learning to produce a usable print should not be that difficult.

What Can I Sublimate?

Woman with question marks on a blackboardOne of the most common questions about sublimation that we get asked is “what can I sublimate?”.   It’s a common question because people either assume you can sublimate anything  or they assume you can only sublimate items that are in some super secret special category to which not everyone has access.    The truth is somewhere in the middle.   Not every item is suitable for sublimation, as with most decoration disciplines,   there are items that cannot be sublimated because of how they’re made,  what they’re made of,  or because they won’t fit properly into the  heat presses or other heating methods available.     On the other side of the coin,  items suitable for sublimation are not some magically coated items that only a select few can use or buy.   In reality,  sublimation is really a fairly easy decoration discipline to enter and master.  If you are thinking of starting a sublimation business or wondering what you can and can’t sublimate,  here are a few pieces of information that should help you understand what you can sublimate and what may not be an ideal choice when it comes to sublimating a product.

The first thing you need to know is that hard goods suitable for sublimation need to be poly coated.   This means,  as I said in my last post,   that you can’t go to the dollar store and buy a mug and sublimate it.   Yes,  there are sprays that can be used to coat items for sublimation,  and going that route may be a viable choice for some people.   For most people, however,   the easiest route is to buy sublimation blanks already coated.  This will ensure that you get a quality blank with a smooth coating that is designed to stand up to the temperatures needed to get a good sublimated print.

When it comes to sublimating fabric,   100% polyester fabric will always give you the best result.   There are several t-shirt brands,  among them Vapor Apparel,  that make 100% polyester shirts that are comfortable to wear and have a nice feel.  These shirts are designed especially for sublimation and come in an array of colors that are suitable for this decoration discipline.

People often ask if it is possible to sublimate a polyester blend,  and the answer to that question is yes,  with a qualification.   Yes,  you an sublimate a poly blend but,  because it is a blend,   the sublimation ink will only dye the poly fibers.   This results in a more distressed look for your print.   Some people find this sort of look attractive and desirable.   Others do not.   If you want a full color print,  your best bet is to start with a garment that is 100% polyester.   This will always produce your best and most colorful result.

Sublimation is actually fairly simple when you get right down to it.   You need sublimation ink and sublimation paper and a blank suitable for sublimation.     You need a heat source that can reach 400 degrees,  either a heat press that can accommodate the blank you want to sublimate,  or  a wrap that can hold your transfer in place while the item is in an oven.  Finally you need a blank that is suitable for sublimation and some graphic software to create the graphic you want to print.   If you have all those things,  you’re ready to sublimate.

Five Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

heartsIt’s already the middle of January and, before you know it,  Valentine’s Day will be staring you in the face.    Roses are traditional,  candy is dandy,   and jewelry or a heartfelt card may do the job,   but a special Valentine’s gift is something more personal.   Something,  if you choose, sublimated with a favorite photo or saying.   Something that’s clearly meant only for the recipient,  not mass produced in a factory.   Something, perhaps,  like the items below.

Call upon your Valentine’s individuality – Phones are the new place to display a little style and individuality,  and a sublimated iPhone case will let your Valentine do just that.   Instructions for personalizing the iPhone cases we sell are included on our website.

Keep memories and valuables close –  If you do plan to give jewelry this Valentine’s Day,  what better way to present it than in a personalized jewelry box?   You should also keep in mind that the boxes don’t have to contain jewelry.   Use a bigger keepsake box and collect favorite photos or mementos of special times together for a unique and special Valentine’s gift.

Give your Valentine the business – Maybe I’m the only one who thinks this,  but I’ve always thought business card holders were kind of classy.   For those with Valentine’s who are starting a new job or a first job,  a personalized business card holder would be a thoughtful gift.

Cook up some romance – Sometime the best Valentine’s gift is one that is both useful and attractive.   Now,  I’m not recommending a vacuum cleaner or something like that,   but a personalized cutting board or a set of plates sublimated with a special design might help turn up the heat a bit.

 Book some time for love – As a lifelong reader and book lover,  I always enjoy gifts that center around my love of reading.   I have a few personalized bookmarks that I use frequently.    I’m always on the lookout for that perfect bag to carry to used bookstores.  If you have a bookworm in your life,  a gift that celebrates their love of the written word may be just the thing.

Don’t forget,  Valentine’s Day can be profitable for sublimation businesses as well.   Keep this list of Valentine’s Day gift ideas handy, and share it with customers when they contact you.    Most people will pay well for a unique, personalized gift,  so don’t be afraid to suggest something unique for your customers’ Valentine’s Day celebrations.

 

Don’t Limit Your Sublimation Success

sublimation blanks. jpgWhen most of us think of sublimation – we probably think of coffee mugs or t-shirts,  which are great items and which can bring in a nice profit,  but which are kind of limiting if that’s all that you do.   The fun thing about sublimation is that there are a number of products that can be sublimated,  some of which can be made into unique gifts or souvenirs.  If you’ve been stuck in a coffee mug or corporate polo shirt rut,  make 2014 the year that you investigate some additional things you can sublimate.   Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Many people put time and effort into creating the perfect kitchen,  and accent pieces can be the ideal way to complete a decorating scheme.    Sublimated cutting boards offer the option of monograms or scenic views,  as well as protection for counters and other surfaces.     Use sublimated tiles to create a backsplash behind a sink or a border along the edge of a counter.    You could also offer unique sublimated place mats that compliment the decor of the room,  are easy to clean off, and which protect fragile table linens.    These placemats can also double as message boards, so that grocery list is easy to write.

Pets are another area where sublimated items can be big sellers.   All pet owners want their pet identified in case of loss,  so sublimated pet tags can be a great seller.     Personalized pet bowls are also a fun idea,   and can help separate Fido’s food bowl from Fluffy’s.    Another big area of animal related products is patches and decals for service dogs and search and rescue animals.  Blank patches which you sublimate can allow you entry into that market.

You should also remember not to neglect the gift and souvenir market.  Jewelry boxes with scenes from well known landmarks in your area can make great keepsake boxes.    Collaborate with local vendors to create boxes that showcase local food items or crafts for a one of a kind souvenir.    Puzzles are another great option when it comes to preserving a scenic view.  Personalized puzzles are even more fun,  offer to put a favorite vacation photo on a puzzle and preserve a memory forever.

The main thing to remember is that there are a number of items out there which can be sublimated,  your job is to find them and figure out how to sell them to your target market.   Money is out there waiting to be made.  Why shouldn’t it end up in your bank account?

Selling Art with Sublimation

sublimated artMost of the time,  when we talk about sublimation here on this site,  we talk about it in terms of what you can make and what you can sell.  Gift shops need mugs,  people like t-shirts,  who doesn’t love a vanity license plate designed to their exact specifications?  Dye sublimation greatly expands the number of products that can be decorated,  and it can be strictly utilitarian,  take photo A and place it on product B and you have something that invokes a favorite event or memory and which is durable enough to last a long time.

What many people don’t think about,  or don’t know,  is the fact that sublimation isn’t just for utilitarian items,  it can also be used to create and sell art.    If you are a photographer or painter,  or know someone who is,  sublimation offers a variety of ways to sell artwork beyond a simple canvas or print, although those presentations can be created as well.

One artistic endeavor that works very well with sublimation is photography.   Working with photographers can create an entirely new market for your business.    This can work one of two ways.   The first way would be creating pieces that could be framed or hung for display.   Many restaurants and coffee shops sell the work of local artists.  Local companies also like to hang work by local artists as well.   Sublimation offers some creative ways to present that work beyond simply framing a print.

The second way sublimation and photography work together would be to create gifts and souvenirs that could be sold using a particular photographer’s work.  These could either be as limited edition collectibles,  with only a certain number being made and sold,  or it could be as something that is offered to people being photographed along with their photo package.   People having portraits taken may like to have their photo on a coffee cup or a keepsake box or a puzzle.    Sublimating photo gifts allows the photographer to add an extra dimension to what’s being offered.

Sublimation also is a perfect fit for painted or printed artwork.   Much like with photography,  sublimation can be used to create a limited number of an item which can be sold for a premium price.   If a painter has created a popular print, it can be sublimated on coasters or ornaments.   Such items would be a great addition to a gallery sale or to an artist’s own website.    Creating limited edition items also allows such items to be sold for a premium price,  as scarcity makes the items more valuable to those who purchase.

Creating items with an artist can also allow you to have exclusive sublimated items to sell.   Gift shops and souvenir stores like having things their competition doesn’t.  If you can connect with a local artist or photographer that is well known,  and get an exclusive on their work,  you can create sublimated items that no one else would have to sell.   Of course,  the success of this endeavor would depend on how popular the artist in question’s work is,  but the potential for this sort of business could be enormous.

Note:  To learn more about the artwork by artist Emilia Kun  in the graphic accompanying this post,  visit the Post Up Stand Blog

 

 

Same Old Stuff, Different Use

One of the things we often get asked here at EnMart is where and how sublimated goods can be sold.   Usually I tell people who ask that the key to selling sublimated goods it to think beyond the standard uses for the sublimation blanks we sell.  Take, for instance,  one way that we’ve used our metal license plates.  Instead of going on the front of a car,  we sublimated them with appropriate graphics and used them as signs in our trade show booth.    Pieces of FRP sheet stock, drilled with the necessary holes,  were also sublimated and made into signs.   Instead of the usual signs or banners that one normally sees in a trade show booth, although we had those as well,  we had a bunch of unique signs that also showcased our products and our expertise.   Same old stuff, different use.

The same thing can be done for almost any sublimation product.    Sublimate an theme appropriate picture on a 15 oz. mug and fill the mug with candy,  soup mix or coffee or cocoa products.    Personalized frosted glass beer mugs could be coupled with a home beer brewing kit.   An aluminum water bottle could be paired with an exercise DVD,  or a pair of hiking boots and a map of local hiking trails.    A lot of these items could be sold to local businesses in your area,  if you help them think outside the box about how they could display and sell these items.  Personalization is always an added attraction,   and studies have shown that promo goods with logos tend to stay in a customer’s memory and keep them coming back.

You also shouldn’t forget that a product may be called one name,  but isn’t necessarily dedicated to that function until it’s put into use.   Pet bowls would be one example.  Until they actually get filled with that first scoop of kibble, they’re simply bowls.   Use them to create a personalized set of bowls for the family dinner table.   Sublimate the appropriate motto and sell them as change or key bowls.   The same kind of thinking can be used for pet tags.  They can be zipper or curtain pulls,  or made into jewelry.    The possibilities are far wider than we might think.

Imagination is definitely a key factor when it comes to selling sublimation.  Just because something is called a license plate or a pet bowl doesn’t mean that has to be it’s only use or function.   When it comes to selling,  thinking beyond the current limits is what will help you get new clients and help you make more money with your sublimation system.