This article has tips, techniques, and trends to get you started using dye-sublimation equipment and materials.
By Cara Cherry
Finding your niche
How well do you know your customers? Take a look at your customers and your target market. What types of products are they purchasing from you? Are they asking you for promotional products, signs, plaques, or other types of products that you haven’t been able to offer them? Perhaps they’re looking for decorated performance apparel that is free of heavy heat transfers or screen printed inks.
Before investing in any equipment, you need to decide what types of items you’d like to sell and how much of your business you want to devote to sublimation. If you want to keep it small, then perhaps you only invest in a small printer. If you think sublimation is going to offer you lots of opportunities and you’re ready to jump in with both feet, maybe you consider purchasing more expensive equipment that can handle larger runs.
Terry Wagner of Uniforms and More is a garment decorator based in Livonia, MI. He offers embroidery, screen printing, digital printing, and sublimation. Terry says that sublimation jobs have been a small percentage of his business, but he is starting to see a lot of growth as performance wear becomes more popular.
“Currently, I own a small ink jet printer designed to work specifically with sublimation inks. I use it for small runs and one offs. On larger jobs, I will outsource the transfers. I just finished a job for a fun run with 425 performance T-shirts. It featured a five-color left chest design on the front and an 11 x 17 design on the back that included 12 sponsors’ logos in 16 different colors. If I continue to get more jobs like it, then I plan to purchase a larger printer and handle the bigger sublimation prints in-house myself.”
Dye Sublimation also offers tons of potential when it comes to creating fashionable designs as well as mixed-media garments. Greg Gaardbo is the owner of Shockwave Apparel in Des, Planes, IL, and his line of sublimated apparel combines the latest cutting edge styles with the most innovative techniques in apparel decorating (Figure 6).
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