Awards & Engraving

October '18

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surface that can withstand heat press temperatures. "TAG — thermo adhesive graphics — media has (also) been making its mark the past year or so," she adds. "This is a microfiber flock that you can sublimate onto and then adhere your design to polyester, cotton, and even dark fabrics." Another technology that is relatively new on the scene is Reveal-S, a transfer film that allows for sublimation on cotton sub- strates. (For those new to the technology, sublimation requires polyester or a poly coating.) And most recently, sublimation markers have made their way onto the scene. "These markers allow anyone to paint or draw their sublimation transfer and then transfer in a heat press," Gross explains. For more on the markers, check out the sidebar on page 10. What all of these technologies have done is allow exponential growth in the selec- tion of sublimatable substrates, according to Gross. To the list of new substrates currently available, he adds ChromaLuxe outdoor metal, ColorLyte acrylic and glass, polymer drinkware, and even a wide variety of soft substrates such as linen gifts. Coeme calls particular attention to drink- ware, which is wildly popular for customiza- tion these days. "Almost weekly, we are asked to develop prototype mug wraps for a new style of drinkware," he explains. "Coolers, tumblers, and metal flasks are the new rage." For even more fresh ideas, Kavanagh calls attention to sequined pillows. "The popularity of these items is now extending into other products with sequins that flip," she states, though she cautions that they may not always be made for sublimation. EMBRACE THE CHANGES These improvements all owe much of their success to one driving force: cus- tomers. As time has gone by, customers have become more demanding, wanting more variety and better products at a faster pace. Because of this, awards retailers must keep up with the changes. "It is always the customer who demands more, better, brighter, greater variety," Coeme points out. He states that in the early days of sublimation, a simple mug with "I love you, grandma," printed on it was sufficient. Not so today. "Today, customers want multi-colored, top-to- bottom, handle-to-handle, or 360-degree circumference sublimation in order to be satisfied," he says. Gross believes that this demand is what creates real market opportunities for awards shops. He likens the evolution of sublima- tion and its current state to the camera film industry: "If you don't keep up with the latest technologies, then you will go the way of camera film and processing." In other words, it's time to embrace change if you're going to make any money. Kavanagh agrees, calling to attention not just the customized gifts segment, but also awards themselves. "Five years ago, how many awards and personalization shops would have guessed that slate would become a popular plaque substrate?" she poses. "Today, sublimated slates are hot and The variety of substrates currently available for sublimation is virtually limitless and includes items such as linen aprons and bags. IMAGE COURTESY CONDÉ $25/140ml ink SubliMate Dye Sub Ink Manufactured in the USA, our GO SubliMate product is the highest quality industrial dye sub ink used with desktop printers. With neon colors, the color im- aging output offers color pop not expe- rienced previously with desktop printers. Create. Print. Finish. © Copyright 2018 Graphics One, GO are trademarks of AD International, LLC. All other trademarks are properties of their respective companies. GO SubliMate system has been developed for profes- sional dye sublimation imaging directly from the desk- top. EPSON® EcoTank desktop series prints as small as 1.5 picoliters for premium output imaging. With 5-col- or availability, a user can print standard colors and neon or with light-black at up to 13 pages per minute. 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Professional Tabloid-Size System with Neon Dye Sub Color SubliMate Dye Sub Paper SubliMate Yr Way. $1,399 $599 $25/140ml ink A&E OCTOBER 2018 • a-e-mag.com 11

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