Basic Sublimation Supplies

A lot of times we tend to talk about the big ticket items on this blog, for a couple of reasons.  One the big ticket items generally bring in more profit and making a profit is what keeps us in business.  Two,  writing about the smaller, incidental items wouldn’t be that interesting, or that easy,  if I did it all the time.  There’s only so much that can be said about heat tape or waste ink collectors or pyrometers before the subject becomes boring.  Still, those things are items that can help make your sublimation or ChromaBlast experience more successful,  so they do deserve a mention, and that’s the purpose of today’s post.

First, let’s start with heat tape.    If you sublimate mugs or anything with a curve,  heat tape is a necessity.  You can use it to keep your transfer in place, reducing the risk of slippage.   Our heat tape is durable and resists curling.  There are also quantity price breaks,  so the more you buy, the more you save.  If you use a lot of heat tape,  you may also want to take a look at our heat tape dispenser.

Second,  we shouldn’t forget to mention sublimation wraps.   Curved items like bowls or mugs or shot glasses won’t work with a regular flat press.     You could purchase a mug press for use with mugs,   or you could use wraps and sublimate the items in question using an oven.   EnMart offers wraps for shot glassesmugs and bowls.

Third on the list is the Quick Connect systems we offer for the Epson printers.    You can purchase a Quick Connect system for either the Epson 1100 or the Epson 1400.   These systems are hardware only and use high capacity ink refill bags.

Fourth is the Waste Ink Collector tanks for the Ricoh GX e3300N and the Ricoh GX 7000.   The Ricoh printers use self cleaning cycles to keep the heads clean and the printer running smoothly.  Eventually the waste tank in the unit will become full.  These tanks can be used to replace the original tank when that happens.

Fifth,  we have Teflon sheets, which are a necessity for anyone who uses a heat press.  Use the Teflon sheets to keep the upper platen clean and to protect any textiles you press from dirt.  Our standard Teflon sheets come in 16 x 20 sheets,  but can be cut to order upon request.

Finally, we can’t forget the digital pyrometer I mentioned in the beginning paragraph of this post.   If you use a heat press, a digital pyrometer is a must have item.    The Digital Knight Pyrometer and Surface Probe allows you to get accurate temperature readings from your press, so you’ll always know just where you heat platen is and what it’s doing.   It will also help you avoid the headaches of dealing with uneven press temperatures.

Pick Your Sublimation Printer

It’s the time of year when a lot of people are making their lists and checking them twice,  trying to figure out what to buy this year and what to buy next year.    If you’re thinking of adding sublimated goods to the products you offer,  or if you already do sublimation but are thinking of upgrading your system,  you might be wondering which printer is right for you.     I thought today would be a good day to discuss each printer and point out some features of each.  Hopefully, this information will be helpful to those of you making a decision about which system to purchase.

If you’re just starting out,  and aren’t really sure what size your particular market will be,  the temptation may be to start out with a really inexpensive printer.    EnMart does carry the Workforce 30 printer, at a cost of under one hundred dollars,  but we don’t recommend that printer for anyone but those people who are creating sublimated goods as a hobby.    The Workforce 30 is a decent printer,  but it’s not really designed for sustained production.

An alternative would be to purchase a Ricoh GX e3300N as part of our QuickStartR package.   The Ricoh GX e3300N is a great basic printer.  The biggest limitation that the printer has is the fact that it cannot print paper bigger than 8.5 x 14.   The Ricoh printers tend to be less temperamental than the Epson printers,  so this is a great printer for someone who is just starting out and not printing every day.   The QuickStartR package also makes starting out quite affordable.  For under $500 (adding in shipping costs) you can get everything you need to create a sublimation transfer.   Add some sublimation blanks and a heat press and you’re in business.

If you know you’re going to be wanting to print on larger size paper,  you may want to consider our Epson Workforce 1100 sublimation package.    This printer allows you to print 13 x 19 paper right out of the box.   Improved technology over previous entry level Epsons, faster printing speeds, HUGE 13 x 19 prints, and efficient, economical printing with a much improved Quick Connect CISS bulk system all combine to make this entry-level system a great choice for those looking to enter the sublimation market.   This package is also a great option for those people who are currently using a C84, C86, C88, C100, or C120 sublimation system with a bulk feed.  You can upgrade to a Workforce 1100 and use the same Cyan, Magenta and Yellow refill bags you are currently using.

For those looking for a mid-range sublimation printer,  the Epson Stylus Photo 1400 is an excellent choice.  This is a 6 cartridge printer,  and can print up to 13 x 19 prints.  If you’re a photographer who prints a lot of pictures of people,  or if you create a lot of artwork with pastel prints,  this printer may be exactly what you need.

Finally, we have the printers for the shops that are creating sublimated items, and lots of them, on a daily basis.   If you create a wide variety of items and print sublimation transfers in a variety of sizes,  then you may want to consider purchasing either a Ricoh GX 7000 or an Epson 4880.  Both these printers can print larger prints,  and offer faster print speeds.    These systems are designed to be fast and efficient.

Because the Epson 4880 is an 8 color printer, it can also be used as a hybrid printer,  with Sublijet ink in one side and ChromaBlast ink in the other side.   This may be an ideal option for those who print equal amounts of sublimation and ChromaBlast transfers.  It is not ideal for those who print more of one kind of transfer than the other,  because the printer will deplete both kinds of ink when you run cleanings.   If you tend to print more of one than the other,  you may be better off purchasing a QuickStart R package and a ChromaBlast package and using one printer for each ink.

The Right Product to the Right Person (at the Right Time)

There’s a popular notion that some people could sell anyone anything.  The old “He could sell an icebox to an Eskimo” cliché is trotted out and everyone has a good laugh.  The general feeling is what matters most is a talent for selling, not the product you’re trying to sell or the person to whom you’re trying to sell it.

At EnMart, we don’t believe that’s true.  We feel knowing and understanding the products and the customers to whom they are being sold is as important, if not more important, than having a talent for selling.  After all, you could sell an icebox to an Eskimo, or a heat lamp to someone who lives in the Sahara Desert, but is that really going to benefit your customer?  Wouldn’t it be better to understand the needs of the customer, and the specifications of your products, and then make a match between the two?   The desert dweller gets the ice box, the igloo owner gets the heat lamp, and you get contented customers who will certainly call you when they need to make their next purchase.

If you have questions about a product that EnMart sells,  ask us. EnMart sales and customer service staff aren’t experts in every product we sell, but they have access to people who are.   If they don’t know the answer to your question themselves,  they will connect you with people who do.  You can contact us by phone,  via e-mail or through live chat.  EnMart also has a presence on Twitter and Facebook.   We’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision, and we’ll provide you with the benefit of our experience and knowledge, so you can be sure you’re making the decision that’s right for you and your business,  not for us and our business.

There’s a popular notion at EnMart: the goal shouldn’t be to sell anyone anything, rather the goal should be to sell the right product to the right person at the right time.   Based on the satisfaction rates of EnMart customers,  we’re betting it’s a notion that’s going to catch on.

Privacy, Security and Online Ordering

These days it seems like you can’t even place an order online without hearing a cautionary tale about someone who was a victim of identity theft,  or who placed a small order online and subsequently found out they’d also purchased a trip to Brazil when they received their next credit card statement.  Doing anything online always carries a risk and ordering online is no exception.  There are unscrupulous people out there who are waiting for unguarded sites and unwary consumers so, if you’re a customer,  it pays to be cautious and only do business with companies that are committed to protecting your information and your privacy.   Obviously,  it also pays to be one of the companies, like EnMart,  who makes that commitment and lives up to it.

If you visit EnMart’s policy page,  you can clearly see our commitment spelled out in black and white.   Here, in part, is what EnMart has to say about security:

We use industry standard encryption methods to transmit your personal registration information from your computer to our across the Internet and we restrict access to any transactional portions of our site to computers running web browsers that support Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol. To use this protection technology, you need to have an SSL capable browser. These browsers will automatically activate the technology when you log on to our site.

Of course,  the only way to be sure that your information is 100% secure from all online predators is to never place an order online,   but we at EnMart pride ourselves on making the order process as safe as it can possibly be.   We have a top notch IT staff and they are doing everything they can to ensure that the trust you place in us to keep your information secure is warranted.

Another concern that people often have when ordering from online sites is privacy.  I’ve had people refuse to give me an e-mail address because they “don’t want all that spam e-mail”  that they are sure we will send them.  Like the security of your payment information,  EnMart also addresses how your e-mail and address information will be used in our privacy policy.  This says, in part:

We use your personal identifying information to identify you as a user of and to assist and speed the completion of your transactions on this site. We may use your e-mail address to contact you directly regarding services or products that we believe may be of interest to you. We may also associate your personal identifying information with information we collect about your preferences and activities on the site, such as particular pages you request at the site and purchases or other transactions you effect through the site.

EnMart will use your information to help make the ordering process smoother and more efficient for you,  and to help us increase the utility of your shopping experience.  We will not sell your e-mail or address information,  and all of our communications with you will always be opt – in.  If you choose not to receive our e-mail newsletters or other communications, all you have to do is ask to be removed from our mailing list.  It’s that simple.

Our goal is always to make any contact you have with us smooth and stress free.  Our policies are designed to address concerns that people may have related to online ordering,  and those policies may be updated as necessary.  If you have any questions about any of our policies,  please do feel free to contact us for more information, or leave your question in the comments.

Sublimation Templates

I believe I’ve discussed this subject before,  but I thought it was worth mentioning again because it is one of the questions we get asked most often at trade shows.   Templates can be very useful when you’re just starting out with a new sublimated product,  but they often don’t come with the product when it is purchased.   At some point EnMart plans to have templates available for download from our web site,  but that requires time to get all the templates loaded and identified.   In the meantime,  it seems simpler and more efficient to point you to sites that are already offering templates.

Unisub is one of the main manufacturers of items for sublimation.   A great many of the FRP items come from Unisub.  Given that,  their site is always a good place to look for templates.  They have a wide variety of templates available for download in both .eps and .cdr format.  Unisub also offers a series of tip sheets that may be helpful.

Another place where you can find templates is on the Rowmark website.  EnMart is a Rowmark distributor so you can find templates for the majority of the products we carry on the Rowmark site.    The templates available from the Rowmark site are in PDF format.    You can also find additional templates by clicking on the sublimation products link.  Rowmark also provides temperature and press time information for their products.

Any discussion of templates should also include a mention of Hanes SublimationMaker 2.0.   This software features both the Unisub and Rowmark templates as well as the ability to create custom templates.   Hanes SublimationMaker also allows you to create your own templates and designs.   If you’re interested in creating murals or custom tabletops,  you might want to take a look at this software as well,  since it has mural making capabilities.

Finally, I wanted to remind everyone not to neglect the Sawgrass website when you’re looking for help and information.   Sawgrass offers how to videos for digital decoration.  They also offer a handy desktop sublimation pricing calculator for download.    You can also find instructional webinars on their website.  If you’re just getting started with sublimation,  the Sawgrass website is a treasure trove of information.

Of course,  as always,  EnMart is here to be of assistance as well.  If you have a question or need assistance,  just contact us and we will be glad to help.   You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with the latest news and information.

Have You Heard About Mates?

If you have spent any time looking through EnMart catalog of sublimation blanks,  you know we offer a wide variety of items on which you can sublimate.  As a Rowmark distributor,  we have access to the entire Rowmark line of products as well.  Today, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Mates line of Rowmark products.   If you’ve not heard about Mates before,  you may find that they’re just what you’ve been looking for to fill a niche in your business.

EnMart offers white Mates stock in 12″ x 50 ft rolls and in 8 1/2 x 11 sheets.  Mates is a flexible,  pre-adhesive plastic material  that can be used for electronic, appliance and computer labeling, recreational, automotive and aviation applications, signage, nameplates, awards, promotional products, packaging and point of purchase displays.  It is a versatile material that can be cut into whatever size and shape you need it to be, but durable enough that your finished design will look great for a long, long time.

Like almost any product that can be sublimated,  Mates does have certain requirements that must be fulfilled to help ensure a great finished product.   If you are just starting out with Mates,  Rowmark offers some sublimation tips and techniques for the product that are sure to be helpful.   If you do run into a problem sublimating your Mates product,  Rowmark also provides troubleshooting tips for common issues.

Mates can be attached to almost any substrate,  so they’re a great option for the occasions when you want to sublimate an item that wouldn’t otherwise be suitable for sublimation.  In addition to white,  the Mates product is also available from Rowmark in clear,  brushed sliver,  brushed gold, brite gold and prism.  White is the only color EnMart has in stock,  but we can certainly order the other colors.  If you would like Mates in a color other than white,  just contact us and we’ll be glad to get those items in stock for you.

How to Sublimate Tiles

Sublimated tiles can be a great way to preserve a precious memory and a great product to sell to your customers.  Blank tiles for sublimation are relatively inexpensive and it is usually fairly simple to sublimate these tiles.  If you’re new to the process of sublimating ceramic tiles, here are a few tips and instructions that may be of help.

Tip 1The tiles must be poly coated. Sublimation only works on polyester or polyester coated substrates.   Most places that sell sublimation blanks will sell tiles.   Just be sure that whatever tiles you buy for sublimation are going to be usable for that purpose.  If they aren’t poly coated, they will not work.

Tip 2: Get a good heat press. If possible, you should avoid using a clamshell press to do tiles.  Since the tiles are fairly thick and a clamshell is hinged at the back, you’ll wind up with uneven pressure and light areas on the tile if you try to use a clamshell press.

Tip 3:  Get a pyrometer and surface probe – To  make sure your press is really 400 degrees when it displays 400, get a pyrometer and surface probe and check the temperature of the press in a few different spots.  All too often the displays are inaccurate from a few degrees off to as many as 50 or more.   Uneven temperature can effect the quality of your final product.

Now, as far as a technique, our favorite method is to make sure that there is a good, fairly medium density to soft silicone rubber heat resistant pad on the lower platen on the press – then put the paper on that with the printed side UP, then place the tile face-DOWN on the print.  Press with good medium-heavy pressure, enough to push the tile down into the pad on the lower platen.  Press it for around 8 – 9 minutes @ 400 degrees.  Doing it this way takes longer in the press, but by doing it upside down like that, you get a good sublimated image all over the face of the tile and even the beveled edge where the top/face slopes down to the side – a full bleed, edge-to-edge print of high quality.

Depending on the sizes of the tiles and your press, you may be able to do more than one tile at a time.  Just make sure you have even pressure all across them, and enough pressure to push the tiles down into the pad a little.    Once the time is up, remove the tiles from the paper and the press  (gloves are recommended for this process) and allow them to cool for a few minutes.  Do not allow the tiles to cool with the paper still on them, as that can cause ghosting. Once they’ve cooled your tile should be complete.

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.