This article has tips, techniques, and trends to get you started using dye-sublimation equipment and materials.
By Cara Cherry
Printer There are a number of factors to consider before purchasing a printer. The types of products that a decorator is planning to offer as well as the anticipated volume are two key factors that should be considered when purchasing a sublimation printer. A dye sublimation printer uses special inks or dyes and then prints the images or graphics directly onto a release paper.
The sublimation industry has primarily adopted the use of inkjet printers because they do not disperse any heat during the printing process. Sublimation printers come in various sizes, print widths, printing speeds, ink configurations, and prices. Budget, size, and resolution requirements usually play a role in the purchasing decision, so most beginners will choose a smaller inkjet printer. Many graduate to larger, wide-format printers once the demand for sublimated items increases.
Transfer paper Transfer paper is needed to apply the image or graphic onto other substrates and media. The paper is specially formulated not to absorb the dye. After the image is printed onto the transfer paper, it is then placed on the garment (Figure 2) or substrate and then applied with a heat press. Transfer paper can be purchased in a variety of sheet sizes or by the roll.
Heat press When it comes to purchasing a heat press, there are a lot of options. Heat presses come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and prices. Heat presses (Figure 3) generally range in price from $400 for smaller models to upwards of $15,000 for large-format presses.
Most likely you’ll be using your heat press for other decorating techniques besides sublimating, so you may want to consider long-term goals and buy the press that will help get you where you want to be in the next couple of years. If you plan on staying small, then you may require a smaller, less expensive press. If you want to make sublimation a big part of your business, then you may wish to consider an air press or a wide-format press for higher volumes and increased production time. No matter which press you choose, the most important factor to consider is that the heat press must reach at least 400° F and provide consistent and even pressure.
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