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All-Over Dye Sublimation: Going All-In

(October/November 2016) posted on Tue Nov 08, 2016

Polyester can be a bear to work with if you aren’t prepared, but the rewards are worth the investment. Why not step up your sublimation game?

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By Aaron Montgomery

Many of my “old guy” garment decorator friends shy away from polyester in a big way. When I was primarily involved with screen printing and DTG, I was among them, a huge proponent of 100-percent cotton T-shirts. I really didn’t think I could ever come to love polyester shirts. But thanks to companies like Under Armour and others, the demand for polyester has changed in a dramatic way. Terms like “moisture wicking” and “performance wear” used to market polyester garments are qualities that consumers are now looking for when making their buying decisions.

As a result, many decorators have figured out how to make their current processes work for polyester, but they often run into issues like dye migration in screen printing and press lines created by vinyl transfers. Personally, I’ve become a huge fanboy for the sublimation process. It provides such a rich and vibrant color that lasts the life of the garment, and it works well with those performance and high-end polyesters that people really want. It also allows for the softest hand available in decorated apparel.

The one limiting factor with dye sublimation is the lack of white ink. You cannot take a red garment and put yellow letters on it and provide that to your customer. The solution? All-over dye sublimation, which allows you to take a white shirt and make it whatever color the customer wants.

Sound expensive? The plus is that the perceived value of polyester today is greater than other apparel in the market, so this is a highly profitable way to decorate garments. All-over sublimated garments can command $50 to $100 each. Your cost to produce them should be in the $10 to $15 range, if you are efficient. I’m horrible at math, but those margins are something that many screen printers would love to see. The process is clean and easy to do, as well. You push print, transfer to your garment of choice, and deliver the product to your customers. No color separations, screens to burn, messy ink, or pretreatment – just profit.


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