This article describes effective and profitable ways to integrate a large-format dye-sub printer into your garment-decorating operation.
By Syd Northup
My recommendation for a garment shop is to consider starting out with a 44-in.-wide Epson 9700 at a low entry cost and work your way up to a Mimaki or a Roland as the business grows. The difference in cost between an Epson and a Mimaki or Roland can range between $10,000-$15,000 depending on the size of printer. If you are concerned about speeds and production with all-over printing, stepping into a 54-in.-wide Mimaki JV33 would be one way to start. All of these sublimation printers require a bulk ink system to be installed to run third-party sublimation inks.
Be aware that some of the bulk ink systems can range in cost of $500 to $2,500 and have chip resetting devices to override the factory firmware settings. Also, once sublimation inks are installed into most large-format printers, they will void most manufacturers’ warranty. Most of the warranty issues should be handled by your system integrator for support and onsite repair.
Now that we have some printer considerations, running this system with RIP software is essential for success with color accuracy and production running. In the U.S. market, we have Ergosoft, Wasatch, Onyx, and PyroRIP, among others. These software applications are very simple in what they do—RIP and print. But this can overwhelm an end user with all the bells and whistles on a sales sheet. The bottom line on RIP software is having a good PC that will run your printer and maintain good RIP times and not bog down your day-to-day activity.
I would highly recommend not running any specialized front-end software on the PC running your printer or printers. This will only cause more frustration down the road as you grow your business in sublimation production. Installing RIP software, creating profiles and learning how to run image production should be taught during your installation and training package offered by your sublimation systems integrator.
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