Press to Mpres

by Tom Chambers

Sublimation paper can be the bane of the sublimation decorator’s existence if it doesn’t work right and fails in some manner.  Having a good quality paper is critical.  But the most expensive papers don’t always give you the best results, and the cheapest papers can leave you wanting something better.  Other issues can arise if your trusted paper brand suddenly and inexplicably changes their formulas, or wink, wink 😉 gets the paper from a different, i.e. cheaper, upstream supplier.

Here at EnMart, we know what it’s like when that happens; it’s happened to us in the past, and I’ve had to go on a quest for a new paper on more than one occasion.  I’ll spare you the long detailed stories and just tell you that one of the most important things you need in a sublimation paper is “stability”.  In other words, the paper you buy next year needs to have the same properties as the one you like to use today.

EnMart only uses and sells sublimation paper with the brand name of MPRÉS-II.  You know, kind of like “iMPRESs” which can mean “iMPRESsing” your artwork onto something, or maybe you’ll be “iMPRESsed” with how it works, and “iMPRESs” your customers with the quality of your finished products.  At any rate, we thought it was a clever name for a product that we were impressed with.  (Also, the “M” is a nod to our Merlin sublimation system that is used by rental uniform companies to create their own sublimated emblems for uniforms.)

MPRÉS-II is our brand name, but we don’t make it – and it is sold elsewhere under various other names for a variety of prices.  We try to sell it for a fair price relative to its cost though, even though we could probably package it in fancy boxes with full color labels and sell it for more money.  Instead, we’d rather pass along the savings to our customers, and even though our packaging is rather generic looking, it doesn’t mean the paper is generic at all.

So what’s with the “II” (2) in the name?  Well, years ago, the paper we called MPRÉS stopped working the way it was supposed to because the manufacturer changed something.  Remember those paper quests and long stories I mentioned earlier?  At any rate, about a decade or so ago upon finding our current paper, one which closely mimicked the best properties of the original MPRÉS, we named it MPRÉS-II.  And that paper is the same today as it was last year, and the year before, and the years before that, all the way back to when our parent company, Ensign Emblem, began using it for making thousands of sublimated patches every day (which they still do).

What I’m saying is that MPRÉS has that required stability, and if someday it changes (which is VERY unlikely with the current manufacturer), then we’ll either find or make a paper that has similar properties and call it MPRÉS-III.  In other words, you don’t have to worry about sublimation paper stability when you buy MPRÉS from EnMart.

Ok, stability schma-bility you say, but what about quality, and how does it perform?  That’s a fair question, so let me tell you.

MPRÉS-II is what we call a hybrid sublimation paper, with some properties of a high release paper and some of the best properties of a quick drying (low release) paper. Because it is a hybrid, it isn’t quite as fast at releasing the sublimation dye as high release papers, where you have to worry about the ink remaining wet, smudging, curling, or even blow-out due to too much dye on the surface of the paper having nowhere to go when it releases so quickly.  At the same time, it still dries quickly and gives you a quicker release than low release, fast drying papers that take longer in the heat press, which can affect image quality.

MPRÉS-II is really the best of both worlds.  And that makes it a great choice for the only paper you ever need to use for sublimation – whether it’s fabrics, ceramics, glass, or metal.

For more in-depth reading on MPRÉS-II and sublimation paper in general, check out these two Sublistuff articles I wrote on this very subject all the way back in early 2010:

The Quest for Fire… er… Sublimation Paper, Part 1

The Quest for Fire… er… Sublimation Paper, Part 2

If you would like to try a sample few pages of MPRÉS-II paper, email us at mpres@myenmart.com and include your name, complete address, phone number, and mention this article.  We can’t send it to you without an address, and while this may seem like stating the obvious, you’d be amazed at just how many people just send an email saying “I’d like your sample pack” and nothing else.  We’d love for you to try our paper, but we aren’t psychic, so unless you tell us what to send and exactly where to send it, we have no idea.  After you try it, we’d appreciate it if you drop us a note letting us know what you think of it too.

Sublimation Issues Made Simple

By Tom Chambers

In my last article, I alluded to a future blog post relating to unacceptable sublimation image quality that was caused by “simple issues”.  Well, here are several simple things that can cause hair pulling moments, sleepless nights, and cost you a lot of money – but are easily checked and corrected.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of everything that can happen or go wrong.  It IS however a basic guide to most of the simpler issues that can arise, especially when a user is relatively new to sublimation.

While the list below is written with the Sawgrass Virtuoso series of inkjet sublimation systems in mind, it will apply to many others as well.  It does not, however, specifically address additional issues that can arise with bulk ink systems, aftermarket systems, or generic inks.

Some of the following may seem a bit obvious or even silly, but you’d be surprised at how many times these occur in real life – sometimes even to people who know better.

Issue:  The sublimated image is faint / faded looking / invisible, even though it looks ok on paper.

  • Are you using sublimation paper? Yes, sometimes people will get the idea to save some money and try regular inkjet paper or even copy paper.  Results will vary, but in general you will never achieve good quality results with any paper other than one designed for sublimation.
  • Are you printing on the correct side of the sublimation paper? Most sublimation paper has a printable, coated side which is typically a brighter, whiter color, and a non-printable side that is off white, duller, or even watermarked.  Depending on your printer and its printing path, the paper could need placing either face up or face down.
  • Are you using sublimation ink? Believe it or not, this happens.  Simply put, sublimation requires specific sublimation ink designed for the printer that you are using.  Regular ink will not work.
  • Is your heat press on / fully heated up / actually at the displayed temperature? Always give your press time to warm up to the correct temperature first, and you should also be using a pyrometer to keep tabs on the actual vs. displayed temperature.  Read this article for more in-depth information on that subject.

Issue:  The images printed on paper don’t look like what is on the computer screen.

As long as there are no defects showing in the print, this is usually not a problem.  It is normal for the printed image to look duller, darker, or even have different colors from the image on the screen.  Unlike printing a photo onto regular photo paper for example, during the sublimation process the color also changes and becomes more like what you see on your monitor.  The best thing to do is to sublimate the image first, then compare.  If you have doubts, use a piece of polyester fabric to test on first.

Issue:  The sublimated image has a double image / faint outline or shadow, but the printed image is fine.

This is called “ghosting” and is caused when the paper shifts sideways during sublimation while everything is hot.   Most often, it happens when the press head comes up too fast creating a vacuum that sucks in air, causing the paper to move.  It can also happen when you are removing the paper if you pull it sideways instead of quickly pulling it straight up.  Another possibility is on a draw press, when drawing the platen out too fast.  Be a bit more careful, use heat tape to affix the paper to your sublimation blank, use a tiny amount of a temporary spray adhesive on the paper, or use an adhesive type sublimation paper.

Issue:  The printed image and / or sublimated image has light or dark horizontal lines in it.

Light lines are most often caused by one or more clogged print nozzles, where there is no ink being printed of a particular color.  The first thing you should do is print a nozzle check, and look for any gaps in the lines.  You may see only one, or it could be several.  If you do, run a head cleaning, followed by another nozzle check.  You should see fewer or no gaps.  If there are still gaps, repeat the process and check again.  As long as the number of gaps decrease or change locations, continue this process around 5 times, and by then you shouldn’t have any gaps remaining.  If some gaps remain and are always in the same place after a few cleanings, you may have more serious issues that require a call to tech support.

Dark lines are usually caused by the print head being out of alignment, and to a lesser extent, light lines can point to this as well.  To correct this, follow the procedures for your printer to print and adjust the print head alignment.  This is typically a straightforward process that gives you step by step instructions to follow.

Both nozzle check and print head alignment procedures are usually accessed in your printer driver maintenance area.

Issue:  The sublimated colors don’t closely match what it shows on the screen.

This one is a bit trickier to explain as there are a variety of possible causes and troubleshooting is considerably more involved, and there will always be some slight differences between what you see and what you sublimate, but I will address the most common, easiest to fix issues here.  Where more specific instructions are needed, always refer to the information provided with your particular printer and sublimation system.

  • Are you printing to the correct printer driver? With many printers that use Sawgrass ink, there are two printer drivers for your printer – a virtual printer driver that does the color correction for sublimation, and the actual OEM printer driver for printing.  Frequently, I see cases where the OEM printer driver has been incorrectly set as the default, so the color correction is being bypassed.  Always make sure you are printing to the virtual printer driver instead.
  • Are your printer driver settings correct? A very common issue that is easy to overlook is the settings within your printer driver.  If you’ve customized it for a particular product, and then go to print something else, you may receive surprising results.
  • Are you using the correct color management settings in your graphics software? Another common issue is not following the correct procedure for a particular sublimation system when configuring graphics software.  Be sure to read any instructions about color management settings for your system, graphics software version, and operating system.  Failing to set up your graphics program properly for sublimation can cause unpredictable results with color, since you essentially wind up with multiple programs fighting for control of the color output.
  • Are you using the correct color profile? If color profiles are a part of your system, they must be set up specifically as recommended by whoever provided the profile.  Color profiles are a complex topic outside the scope of this basic article, but suffice it to say that not having them set up correctly or using the wrong one will definitely affect your color output.

If the above doesn’t solve your issue, or if you have questions about anything, feel free to contact us.  We’re always here to help.

Tom Chambers is EnMart’s sublimation guru,  the guide and mentor regarding all things sublimation.   Tom was instrumental in introducing inkjet sublimation to industrial laundries, and has been working with the process since the early days of thermal ribbon sublimation. 

How to Choose a Sublimation Paper

Way back in 2010 we did a 2 part series detailing everything you needed to know about choosing a sublimation paper.   Eight years later (doesn’t time just fly) it seemed like a good idea to summarize some of what was in that series in an effort to help a new group of sublimation printers make their paper choices.   The original posts are still very relevant and worth reading in full, so if you’re inclined,  please take a moment to read Part 1 and Part 2.    If you’re short on time,  this summary will give you the basics.

To begin,  let’s talk about the three categories into which we at EnMart divide sublimation paper.  Our categories may be different than those other suppliers use,  but our experience has shown these category designations to be accurate, so they’re the ones we use.   In our experience, sublimation paper is either

  • High release
  • Low or Standard Release
  • Hybrid (combines properties of both)

High Release paper typically requires less time to press to release the majority of the ink onto the substrate.  This type of paper tends to work well for soft goods and may provide slightly superior color transfer.   One of the main issues with this paper may be smearing,  as high release paper tends not to dry quickly.   You may also experience “blow out” on hard goods like ceramic tiles of FRP key chains,  as the dye may be released so quickly that the harder materials can’t absorb it fast enough.    High release paper may also be more prone to curling, printer jams,  humidity and other environmental issues.

Low or standard release paper is pretty much the opposite of high release paper.   It dries quickly,  so smearing issues are minimal.   This type of paper works very well with hard goods and has little instance of “blow out”.   A potential drawback of low release paper is that it takes far more time in a press to draw the dye out.   Extensive time in a heat press can cause damage to or yellowing of coatings or fabrics,  but shortening the press time could result in colors that are less vibrant than desired.   On the positive side,  low release paper does tend to be resistant to jams and other environmental factors.

Hybrid paper,  as the name implies,  combines the qualities of both high and low release papers.   Some hybrid papers are more on the high release send of the spectrum while other are similar to low release paper.   The goal with this type of paper is to capitalize on the good points of both the other types of paper while minimizing the down side.   Based on our experience,  hybrid papers tend to be the best for all around use on all substrates.

If you’re wondering what type of paper Mpres Paper,  the sublimation paper that EnMart sells is,  it’s a hybrid paper.  The time required in a heat press is closer to the high release end of the spectrum,   but it mimics the low release papers in it’s capacity for quick drying to eliminate smearing, and the excellent release of color.   This is the paper that our parent company,  Ensign Emblem uses to create sublimated patches every day.     It’s been battle tested and proven worthy and we highly recommend it.

 

Get Started with Sublimation in 2012

To get started in sublimation you need five things:

  1. A printer
  2. Sublimation ink
  3. Sublimation paper
  4. Blanks suitable for sublimation
  5. A heat press

Your selection of printer really depends on what size prints you want to make.  If the biggest thing you’ll ever print will fit on an 8.5 x 14 sheet of paper,  then you might do well with a Ricoh 3300.   If you want to print 13 x 19 right out of the box,  it might be wise to consider a Epson WF1100.   If you want to print large images and think you will be doing quite a bit of production,  your best choice might well be the Ricoh GX 7000.   Different printers work best in different situations,  so please be sure to take into account how much you want to print and the largest thing you might want to print when deciding which printer to buy.

Sublimation ink is fairly simple –  if you run a Windows system,  you can purchase Sublijet ink for the Ricoh or the Epson printer of your choice.    If you use a Mac,  then you’re best off selecting Artainium ink,  as Sawgrass supplies ICC profiles for that ink which work with Macs.   Enmart does not currently list Artainium ink on our website,  but we can get it for customers who request that we do so.

When it comes to sublimation paper,  EnMart recommends our Mpres Paper.   We’ve tested many different kinds of paper over the years,  and Mpres is the best we’ve found.

Choosing sublimation blanks largely depends on what it is you want to sell.    EnMart offers a wide selection of blanks for sublimation,  everything from dog tags to mousepads, coffee mugs to jewelry boxes.   We also carry Vapor Apparel t-shirts, which are very well suited for sublimation.    EnMart also allows you to purchase just one of any item you might like to try,  subject, of course, to our $25 minimum order.

Finally, in order to sublimate, you need a heat press.   EnMart’s parent company, Ensign Emblem has a long history with George Knight heat presses, and has known them to be durable and reliable.  Since we’ve had such a good experience with these presses,  Geo. Knight is the brand of press that EnMart sells.   If you’re looking for a press,  remember to take into account the largest thing you will every sublimate, as you want to make sure your press is able to handle it.

Getting started with sublimation is not difficult, and EnMart is here to help make it even easier.  If you have questions or concerns, we’ll be happy to help you, or to connect you with people who can.

White Paper and What You Make of It

I have to admit,  I’m long past the days of sitting in front of  a blank piece of paper with a pen waiting for inspiration to strike.  Nowdays I sit in front of a computer screen looking at a blank white square with a blinking cursor,  both waiting to be used to create a blog post, or a piece of collateral material or whatever else I may want to create.   My mind conceives,  my hands do the work, and the end product is something more than the white space, whether paper or programmed, where everything started.

While it’s true that everything combines to create something bigger than the sum of the parts,   that doesn’t make the parts inconsequential.  The right ingredients matter.  Your white paper,  whether computer generated or an actual piece of paper,  needs to be quality stuff,  which will work well for the purpose to which you are to put it.   You have to have experience and knowledge of how to use the supplies you are given,  whether those supplies are things like words and ideas,  or ink and printers. Finally,  you have to have the courage to take the leap between where you are and where you envision you could be.   After all blank paper and unused supplies don’t really amount to anything.  It’s what you do with those things that gives them meaning.

Sublimation starts with a piece of blank paper,  or a blank white surface of a mug or a mousepad,  and an idea.  The idea may be an abstract design,  a photograph,  or simply a logo or name.   When these things are combined,  the end result is a product that can be sold,  which might become a sign for someone’s shop or a keepsake on someone’s mantel.  The magic ingredient that changes the blank white space into something special is your imagination,  your knowledge and your willingness to try something new.

If you’re starting out,  looking at the white paper or the white sublimation blank may seem a little overwhelming,  but really all you’re looking at is a blank slate that is waiting for you to leave your mark.  We know that leaving your mark can seem like an intimidating thing to do,  or that you may think you need more knowledge before you make an attempt, and that’s why we’re here to help.  Whether it’s guiding you to the right resource,  or sharing with you some of our own knowledge and expertise,  we’ll be happy to help you find the assistance  and knowledge you need.

It all starts with a blank sheet of paper.  Where it ends is up to you.

Knowledge = Power (and a Good Supplier)

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I often talk about the fact that EnMart’s parent company, Ensign Emblem,  was instrumental in bringing inkjet sublimation to industrial laundries.    In fact,  Ensign has been involved with sublimation in some form since the early 1990’s.    Later this week, I will be writing a post about Ensign’s history with sublimation, but today I wanted to talk about why that history matters and what it means for EnMart customers today.

First of all, for those who are not aware,  EnMart is part of the Ensign Group,  which was created by Ensign Emblem.   The Ensign Group was formed so that Ensign Emblem could create subsidiary companies and bring quality products and the benefits of the knowledge Ensign had accumulated to new markets.   EnMart is the first company in the Ensign Group and sells machine embroidery and sublimation supplies.

When EnMart was created,  it automatically had access to all the knowledge Ensign Emblem had accumulated over the years.    We could speak knowledgeably about the best paper for sublimation because we’d tested many types of paper until we found what we felt was the best.    EnMart’s sublimation experts could give advice on sublimation ink because we’ve worked with Sawgrass for years and had seen the development of sublimation ink.  We know how to get the best sublimation prints possible because we’ve created tons of sublimated emblems, and we’ve developed systems that allow Ensign’s industrial laundry customers to do the same.

In the end,  what all this means is that EnMart customers have access to a large database of sublimation knowledge.  Whether it’s a consultation about  which printer or heat press to buy,   or tips on how to get the most from your sublimation ink,  or advice that helps you figure out a problem,  we’re very likely to have the knowledge you need.  Best of all, becoming an EnMart customer gives you access to that knowledge, any time you need it,  every time you need it.

Why Paper Type is Important

When most people talk about sublimation they generally tend to talk about the inks or the printers or maybe the awesome varieties of sublimation blanks available.   I would guess that most people spare little if any thought for the paper on which the transfers will be printed.    This lack of thought about the paper you choose can be a serious oversight and have major consequences for the cost and quality of your printing.   Given that,  I thought it might be a good idea to discuss why paper matters and what qualities a good sublimation paper should have.

In the spirit of full disclosure,  I wanted to point out that some of the topics I’ll cover here were first mentioned in our post “The Quest for Fire … er… Sublimation Paper”,  which was offered on this blog as Part 1 and Part 2.   Those posts made their debut on the blog back in April,  and I figured some people might have missed them.   Because of that fact,  I feel pretty safe going over some ground we’ve already covered.  I did, however,  want you to know the full posts were there in case you wanted to read them in their entirety.  I do recommend doing that if you haven’t already done so.

The first thing you need to know is that EnMart divides sublimation paper into three categories.  We recognize that our categories may only be valid to us,  but they work for our purposes and may work for yours.   Those categories are:

  1. High Release
  2. Low or Standard Release
  3. Hybrid (combines properties of both)

High Release sublimation papers typically require lower press times  to release the majority of their sublimation dye into the substrate.  This decreased press time can also decreas your production time, and may  increase your  margins.  High release papers work very well for lower DPI prints of artwork on fabrics or other “soft goods”, and may also provide slightly superior color transfer. One thing you should be aware of is that high release papers typically don’t dry as fast.   If you are printing large numbers of sheets and allow the sheets to stack up, you may experience some smearing of the ink as one sheet feeds out on top of another.  There is also the potential for “tracking” where the feed wheels on your printer function pick up and deposit “tracks” of ink.  There is also the potential for  instances of “blow out” on hard goods like ceramics and FRP, if the dye is released so quickly that the coating cannot absorb it at the same rate.  High release paper may also be more susceptible to curling, printer jams, humidity, and other environmental issues.

Low or Standard Release papers usually have just the opposite qualities from high release papers.  They dry very quickly, so there are rarely any smearing issues.  They also work very very well on all hard goods like ceramics and FRP with little, if any, “blow out”.  Unlike high release papers, however, they require much more time in the heat press to get the dye out.  Reducing the press time even a little can cause colors to be less vibrant.  Long amounts of time in the heat press can also cause yellowing or other damage to coatings and fabrics.  This class of paper, however,  is virtually immune to paper jams or other environmental issues, and works equally well in a variety of printers and environments.

Hybrid papers, as you may have already figured out,  combine the best properties of both of the previous types of paper.   After testing a wide variety of papers over the years,  EnMart has settled exclusively on a hybrid paper.  We call the paper Mpres and it is the only paper we use internally and the only paper we sell.    If you want to know more about why we chose Mpres and why we think it’s a good option for our customers,  you can read this post, written back in May, that covers the subject.

As you can see,  the type of sublimation paper you choose can have a large bearing on the success and cost of your sublimation printing.   All sublimation papers are not created equal,  and the cheapest option may not always be the best.   Before you settle on one paper,  take the time to test a few and see which one works best for you and your business.  If you are interested in testing EnMart’s Mpres paper,   simply contact us and ask for a sample pack.  We’re confident in our paper,  and we believe,  once you’ve tested a sample,  you will be as well.

Humidity and Sublimation Paper

We’re having another hot and relatively humid week in  Northern Michigan today,  and I know other parts of the country are currently experiencing something like a steam bath.  Humidity levels have reached 100% on some days,  and dew points are very high.   That type of weather is generally pretty uncomfortable for humans,  and it doesn’t do your sublimation supplies, like paper,  all that much good either.   Since the weather has provided me with a ready made subject,  I thought today would be a good day to discuss humidity and sublimation paper.

First of all,  let’s discuss what humidity does to sublimation paper.    Your sublimation paper can retain an enormous amount of moisture,  so  exposing it to humid air is like setting a sponge in a pool of water.    Excess moisture in your paper is not a good thing and can lead to problems like color shifting (colors lose accuracy), bleeding of the image, and uneven transfer of solid filled areas. If you can,  store your sublimation paper in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.   If that isn’t possible,  try to avoid humidity related problems by keeping  your sublimation paper  sealed in a plastic bag.

If you paper is exposed to humid air and does soak up some excess moisture,  you have a couple of options.  One is to set the paper on your press for a few seconds. Do not press it. Just expose it to the warmth. The heat radiating from the press should help evaporate most of the moisture.  If you’ve already printed a transfer  you can try to save the transfer by heating it in your heat press.   To eliminate the excess moisture,  place the printed transfer 2″ to 3″ below the heat platen for 30 – 40 seconds.   When you do this,  the result may be that the colors in the transfer appear washed out or faded.  This is normal and the anticipated result of color adjustment for the transfer process.

As a general rule,  the optimum environment for sublimation printing is one that has low humidity and is reasonably cool.   You may have to do some experimenting to find the correct humidity and temperature levels for your particular climate.

Top 7 Reasons (and 1 Bonus Reason) to Try Mpres Paper

1. Hybrid high release paper. Mprés releases more dye in less time onto the printable substrate than most other papers of this type for richer, deeper colors and better clarity.

2. Fast drying. Mprés dries almost instantly, eliminating any quality issues like tracking or smudging.

3. Universal sublimation paper. This paper works perfectly with any sublimation printing system including Ricoh and Epson, and any sublimatible material.

4. Print at multiple DPI levels.  This paper allows you to print at higher DPI levels (for use with ceramics, UNISUB materials, etc) and at lower DPI levels (emblems, mousepads, etc) allowing you to save ink.

5. Increased Productivity.  Mprés Paper requires less press time and dries faster than many other papers, and printing at lower DPI levels may also increase printing speeds.

6. First-Hand Product Knowledge.  We not only sell Mprés Paper, we use it ourselves every day.  We have the first hand product knowledge necessary to help our customers successfully use the product.

7.  New Lower Pricing. Bulk purchases and economies of scale have allowed us to lower the price on our 8 1/2 x 11 Mprés Paper.   The new pricing, effective 5/10/10, will save you money on every pack of paper you buy.  Quantity breaks will also ensure that the more you buy, the more you save.  The new pricing is as follows:

1-4 packs   $13.99
5-9 packs  $12.99
10-19 packs  $12.59
20-49 packs  $11.89
50-99 packs  $11.39
100+  packs  $11.19

and one bonus reason…

8. We’ll Send You a Sample of Paper Free! –  We’re so confident that you’ll love Mprés as much as we do, that we want to introduce you to it by offering you a free 10 sheet sample pack of 8 1/2 x 11.   To request your 10 sample sheets, contact us at 866-516-1300 or e-mail us at mpres@myenmart.com.

Create, Print, Press! Is it Really That Easy?

We’ve been doing a lot of trade shows in the last few months, and I’ve noticed a funny thing that seems to happen at almost every show (or at least the ones to which I’ve been).  At some point, one of us working the booth will be telling someone who isn’t familiar with sublimation how the process works, and as the explanation  goes on the person who is listening starts to get the look my Mom would get when I was a kid and explaining something to her, usually something like why we felt it was a good idea to open the front door and the sliding door to the backyard and have a water fight through the house.   It’s the look that says, “I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, and I know you believe what you’re saying,  but I’m not entirely sure that I do”.  When it comes to sublimation, the look really seems to translate to this question:  can sublimation really be as easy as  1) Create, 2) Print and 3) Press?

Our answer to that question is yes, sublimation really can be that easy, which isn’t to say that it’s simple.  Like anything else, there are skills that need to be mastered and conditions that need to be met to help ensure that your sublimated project will end in success.

Let’s start with Create.   In order to create the graphics you want to print, you either need a source of photographs or a source of clipart or the ability to design graphics from scratch.   You also need a graphic software program of some kind.  What program you use is up to you.   Some people prefer to keep it simple and use something like Hanes SublimationMaker 2.0.   Other people design their own graphics using CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator.   Regardless of which route you choose, you have to have the ability to maneuver a mouse and use a computer, and an understanding of whatever graphics program you choose to use, but that’s really all it takes.

After you’re created your artwork, your next step is to Print.   If you wish to create sublimated items, then obviously you need sublimation ink and sublimation printers.   You need to be willing to maintain the printers and do the proper nozzle checks and cleanings so the printer stays in good working order.  You also need to purchase sublimation paper and to keep that in an environment that will provide optimum printing capability.   You need to understand how the Sawgrass PowerDriver software works and how to use it properly.    Other than that, printing a graphic for sublimation is like printing anything else.

Finally, once you’ve printed your design, you need to Press it onto whatever substrate you’ve selected.  The main requirement here would be a heat press.   You need to make sure that you have the proper size and type of press for whatever it is you want to press.  There needs to be an  understanding of  how variations in press temperature can impact the finished product.  To ensure an optimum result, you need to make sure to follow the instructions given regarding pressure, temperature and time.

Obviously, for the purposes of this post, I’ve only touched on the highlights of the process.  Each person will encounter their own learning curve when it comes to sublimation, and the steepness of that curve will largely depend on previous experience and willingness to experiment.   All things being equal, however, sublimation has less barriers to entry, and less potential issues than other types of garment decoration, with the added benefit of offering the ability to decorate items beyond garments.