Join Us at the Sublimation Expo

Most everyone would probably like to attend a trade show,  but it doesn’t always work out that everyone can attend.  Sometimes the dates are wrong.   The location may be too far from where you are to make the trip cost effective or feasible.   The days the show is held on my conflict with your work schedule.   The cost may be more than you’re willing to spend.    There are a lot of reasons why attending a trade show on site may not work out for you,  which is why many companies are now moving to virtual trade shows which can be attended from the comfort of your own home or office simply by logging into the show using your computer.

EnMart is proud to announce that we will be participating in the Sublimation Expo,  held by Sawgrass Technologies, on November 13 – 15.   This is a virtual trade show,  which can be attended from your computer.     It looks and feels like the real thing,  if the real thing existed only in your computer.  There are company booths,  a lobby,  seminars,  demos and representatives from various companies available to speak with you.  The Sublimation Expo occurs in an virtual, interactive environment,  allowing you to attend from the comfort of your workspace using your computer.

Like a trade show held in a brick and mortar building,  the Sublimation Expo features seminars that can help you learn more about your sublimation,  your equipment and the best way to move forward.    If you’ve been looking for information that can help you take your busienss to the next level,  make sure to attend one or more of the available seminars,  and then spend some time visiting the exhibitors at the show.

Attending the show is free, all you have to do is register.    Use the promo code sublimation to get free admission.  If you do attend the show,  please stop by and see EnMart.   We look forward to seeing you all on November 13 – 15.

 

 

Mug Shots: 6 Tips for Sublimating Mugs

Anyone who does sublimation or has done sublimation most likely has contemplated sublimating mugs at some point.  People who are considering sublimation are often considering it because it offers the opportunity to create personalized mugs.   Everyone likes a mug with a design that has meaning,  and creating those mugs can be relatively easy,  if you keep the following tips in mind.

Tip 1:  Buy the right kind of mugs – Any good that is sublimated must be either made of polyester materials or poly coated.   If you’re looking for dishwasher safe mugs,  you will also need to look for mugs that have the ORCA coating.  All the mugs that EnMart sells,  both the 11 oz.  mugs and the 15 oz. mugs,  have this coating.   Our frosted glass beer mugs also have this coating.

Tip 2:  Find the optimum image area on your mug – Mug size and design can vary slightly from batch to batch.  It is always a good idea to create a test mug.  This will allow you to find the proper placement for your design and will help ensure that placement will be correct on future mugs.

Tip 3:  Make sure your transfer is secure –   Sublimation heat tape is always a great way to secure your design to the mug.   The tape will ensure that your transfer doesn’t slip or slide during the pressing process.

Tip 4:  If you use a press,  take into account every type of mug you want to sublimate –  Some mug presses are designed only to handle the smaller types of mugs, or conventionally shaped mugs, which leaves out options like latte mugs or travel mugs.   To get the most out of your press, you need one that is versatile,  like the DK3 Mug Press from George Knight.

Tip 5:  Wraps are a viable option too –  If you are doing a large number of mugs,  it might be quicker to sublimate the mugs using a mug wrap and an oven.   You can use anything from a toaster oven to a conventional oven as long as it can heat up to 400 degrees.   Sublimating and cooking in the same oven is also not recommended.

Tip 6:  Mugs need to cool off after pressing – Once you’ve finished sublimating your mug,  cool it off in a bath of lukewarm water.  This will stop the sublimation process.   Make sure the water is not too cold, or you may crack your mug.

Write What You Know, Except When You Don’t

I’ve never made a claim to be a sublimation expert.  I’ve sublimated exactly one thing in my life,  and that was a ceramic tile.  It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself,  but I don’t consider my one success as qualification for the title of expert.   At best I’m a dilettante.   I know a reasonable amount about the craft and practice of sublimation because I listen and I ask questions.   Where I’ve been very lucky is in the fact that I have experts with whom I work who patiently, some of the time at least, answer my questions about what and how and why.  After I’ve gotten my answers I bring them here and share them with you.

One of the oldest adages in writing is “write what you know”.   In my case,  particularly since I started writing for EnMart,  that’s the last thing I’ve been doing.  When EnMart began, what I knew about thread, machine embroidery, bobbins,  sublimation, ChromaBlast and the other supplies and disciplines that EnMart encompasses wasn’t enough to write more than one or two blog posts at best.   Since the first post I wrote my job has been a combination of archeologist and town crier.  First I go dig up the nuggets of information and knowledge I need.  Then I come here or to EnMart’s other blog,  EmbroideryTalk,  and share what I’ve learned.

If you wonder where I’m going with this, I’m mainly trying to reinforce what I said in yesterday’s post,  which was about educating yourself so you can then educate your customers.   When you’re first starting out,  machine embroidery or sublimation can seem overwhelming.  There’s so much to learn and remember and it can seem like you’ll never know what you’re talking about,  or how to answer even the simplest question.  If, however,  you take the time to ask questions of others who have more experience,   to practice your craft,  and seize every opportunity to learn more,  eventually you get comfortable with the techniques and procedures,  and you’re able to answer questions and make suggestions easily.

What seems overwhelming is only that way if you let it be that way.  There are tons of resources out there,  websites like Sawgrass Ink’s site,  forums like the Apparel Decorator’s Forum and T-shirt Forums,  and blogs like this one,  not to mention the many experts who offer seminars at trade shows and do webinars and video classes.   The information is out there,  but it’s up to you to go and find it and spend the time absorbing it.  If you do that,  you’ll soon find that the stuff that you didn’t know has become the stuff that you do know,  and your business and your customers will both benefit.

Educate Yourself So You Can Educate Your Customers

As I mentioned yesterday, there can be a great deal of value in attending a trade show.    One of the greatest values is the education you can receive from a show.   Every time we go to a show,  even though I usually attend as an exhibitor,  I learn something,  either from someone visiting our booth or from taking the time to talk to another vendor.   The more I learn,  the more valuable I am to my company and the better able I am to help our customers.   That same equation applies to all of you.

Say, for instance,  that you’re selling sublimation services in your shop.   You can sell those services better if you’re fully aware of the capability of your machines.   If you have a printer which only handles 8 1/2 x 11 paper,  you don’t want to promise to print a 13  x 19 design.   If your heat press is only capable of doing flat goods,  you probably don’t want to promise to get an order of mugs out by next Tuesday.   Knowing what your equipment can do and how fast it can do it can save you a lot of stress and allow you to provide timely service to your customers.

As another example,  let’s suppose a customer comes to you looking for a great Christmas gift to commemorate the anniversary celebration of a local landmark.  The customer doesn’t want shirts or hats,  but rather something that people will display and keep as a memento of the occasion.   If you’re conversant with the type of products that can be sublimated,  you could offer key chains,  or ornaments,  or jewelry/keepsake boxes.   New sublimation blanks are entering the market every day.  Keeping current with your favorite vendor web sites and keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry will help insure that you have the right product available when your potential customer walks in the door with a question.

Learning and understanding the latest techniques is another way to provide the best service to your customers.  Sawgrass Ink provides a variety of educational seminars and webinars that will help you learn the latest techniques for sublimation,  and can also teach you how to enter various markets.   Forums like T-shirt Forums or the Apparel Decorators Forum are a great place to ask questions and get tips and help in mastering the latest sublimation processes.   Trade shows also generally offer classes and seminars on a variety of topics,  so you can learn a new discipline from the ground up.

Of course, you should also stay current with the blogs,  Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite suppliers.   These social media venues are a great place to ask questions and get answers in real time.  They also tend to be the places where announcements about new products, new services, and special offers are made.    Staying current will allow you to be the first to pass the latest trend or the greatest savings along to your customers.

What it all comes down to is this:  the more you know the better able you will be to provide service and support to your customers.   You will also be more aware of all the options available to you,  which gives you more chances to make a sale.   Time spent learning is never time wasted,  and it can often translate into increased revenue.

Backed by Experience

At some point everyone, whether novice or expert, will encounter a problem that stops them in their tracks until they find a solution.    When that happens  there are a couple of options.  One is to access a search engine and see if anyone else has encountered that particular problem in the past.    Another is to visit a forum and leave a post and hope someone has the necessary answer.   Some people might also  check  with  colleagues who sublimate, but that’s still gambling that one of them has either experienced a similar problem or can help figure out a solution.

We all know that the best person to go to when you need your car fixed is the person who spends the majority of his or her time under the hood, not the salesperson who sold the car.   If your sink needs repairing, you call a professional plumber, not the guy who sells sinks.   In order to eat a gourmet meal, you look to the professional chef, not the vendor who sold that chef the food.   The person who sells the item is important but they may not have much familiarity with the item they’ve just sold.   The ideal solution to this problem  would be to make purchases from companies and people who not only use the items that they sell, but who understand how these items work, and who have encountered many of the issues that the average user may encounter.   If you’re purchasing sublimation supplies, the ideal solution would be EnMart.

EnMart itself has only been in existence for a few years,  but our parent company, Ensign Emblem, has been working with sublimation since the late 1990’s.  We know the pain of working with a printer that doesn’t want to print.   Our experts have experienced the frustration of colors that just won’t match and prints that come out a different color than desired.   We’ve taken apart printers and put them back together.   We’ve dealt with clogged printers, spilled ink and transfer paper that wanted to do nothing but curl.  EnMart’s experts were once novices, figuring out the process for the first time, and we still remember how that feels.

When you purchase your sublimation printersSublijet Ink and sublimation blanks from EnMart,  you’re not just buying a product, you’re also buying our expertise.   Every sublimation product we sell is backed by our experience,  which is not just theoretical.  We use the products we sell, and we’ve most likely experienced, and a found a solution for, almost every issue you could face.

Sublimation and ChromaBlast resources

EnMart gets to introduce a lot of people to sublimation and ChromaBlast who have never encountered either of these disciplines before.  It is a privilege to be able to help people set up another profit center for their businesses, but it is also a responsibility.  We don’t believe in selling something and then abandoning our customers and leaving them on their own to figure out how to use what they’ve just purchased.   EnMart wants customers for life, not just for one sale, so we are always available to answer questions and offer support.

One of our goals for 2010 is to create a sublimation and ChromaBlast resource section on our web site.   If all goes as I am hoping it will, EnMart will offer white papers, tips, instruction sheets on how to sublimate the blanks we offer and perhaps even instructional videos.  We will also, of course, continue updating this blog, as well as answering questions on Twitter and Facebook.

Today I wanted to do two things that I think will help us get closer to our goal.  The first one is to ask those who read this blog what they would like to see in our sublimation and ChromaBlast resource section.  What would be most helpful?  Do you want step by step instructions on how to sublimate a certain blank?   Would you prefer video demonstrations?  Are you most interested in learning more about why sublimation is right for you?   Any and all suggestions will be taken into consideration, so if you have something you would like to see included in our resource section, please let me know.  You can leave a comment here, talk to me on Facebook or Twitter, or e-mail me with your suggestion.

The second thing I wanted to do is point out a few resources that could be of help while we’re building our reference pages.  The first is the Sawgrass website.  They have a variety of resources available, from webinars to FAQs to technical support if you have a question.  You are, of course, always welcome to call us, but there may be times when we’ll refer you to Sawgrass as well.  If you have a question or an issue, their web site is a great place to look for an answer.

Another great resource is T-Shirt Forums.com.   There are a large number of people who sublimate on this forum and there is a wide variety of information available.  EnMart is a sponsor of this forum, and we do have a presence there under the screen name EnMartian.   This is a great place to ask questions and share information with others who are also doing sublimation.

I will keep you update on the progress of our own resource section and, as I said above, would appreciate any and all suggestions about what we should include.   As always, if you have any questions about sublimation in general, need assistance with sublimating a specific item, or need more information on a particular product, please contact us.  We’ll be glad to help.

Introducing SubliStuff

In mid 2009, EnMart added sublimation supplies and equipment to our product inventory.   This was a natural move for the company, since our parent company had been doing sublimation for industrial laundries since 2001.  We had the experience and the knowledge and now, with EnMart, we had the venue.  It only seemed natural that we include sublimation and ChromaBlast in our product offerings. 

When we added sublimation and ChromaBlast, our first thought was to also add sublimation information to our existing blog, EnMart EmbroideryTalk.   Although the name of the blog was EmbroideryTalk, we felt it could encompass all aspects of EnMart.  Truth be told, the blog probably could, but the more we talked about it, the more we realized we also had a lot to say about sublimation.  After a while, it just made sense to have a blog for embroidery and embroidery related topics and a blog for sublimation and sublimation related topics.   That’s when SubliStuff the blog was born.

Like the blog,  the name SubliStuff took a while to come into being.  The word sublistuff was actually coined by our resident sublimation expert.  He started using it to refer to sublimation blanks in the plural, and then to sublimation equipment and supplies in general and the name just stuck.  Say sublistuff around our offices these days and everyone will instantly know what you mean.   For us sublistuff has come to mean anything, including information, having to do with sublimation and ChromaBlast (let’s fact it, Chromastuff just doesn’t work) so when it came time to name the blog, SubliStuff seemed the logical choice.

This blog will be the place where we share our knowledge and insight into the world of sublimation and ChromaBlast.   We’ll write blog posts based on our own experiences, feature guest posts by sublimation and ChromaBlast experts and will also keep you updated on the latest news and special offers from EnMart.  Our goal is to create a complete sublimation and ChromaBlast resource and to make this blog a place that will be of benefit both to the novice and to the experienced sublimator. 

All we ask of you is that you read and that, every once in a while, you talk to us.  Leave a comment, send us an e-mail, help spread the word about a great post by mentioning on Twitter, just do something to let us know you’re out there.   As long as you keep reading, we’ll keep writing.