Awards & Engraving

March '20

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8 • A&E MARCH 2020 Certainly, you do have dot gain with sublimation (we will discuss that later) and you have to be aware of it and work with it. However, if you really understand the basics of how sublimation works, and the variables that affect the image clarity, you can dial in your sublimation processes and get clear images that rival any other tech- nology available for custom decoration. VARIABLES THAT AFFECT SUBLIMATION IMAGE CLARITY There are a few basic variables that directly affect your image quality when you sublimate your products. Let's list out the variables, then talk further about each of them: 1. Quality of your digital image 2. Calibrating your sublimation printer 3. Quality of your sublimation paper 4. Quality of your sublimation products 5. Calibrating your times and temps 6. Rapidly cooling your products If you understand how these variables affect your sublimation process, you will be able to zero in your process and create high-quality finished products. QUALITY OF YOUR DIGITAL IMAGE When you talk about the quality of the image you start with, it is important to know that the better its quality, the better quality of your finished product. If you start with a bad image, there is really no way that you can achieve a better quality one on your finished product. A good rule of thumb for a starting image quality is, for a hard substrate, at least a 300 DPI (dots per inch) image at size, and for a fabric substrate, at least a 150 DPI image. Rigid substrates support a higher finished DPI image because of the smooth surface while fabrics, due to the weave, won't sup- port a finished DPI image higher than 150. The other thing to be aware of is the term "at size." That means the DPI should be as C an you get crisp, clear images on your sublimation products? I have heard from people throughout the years that sublimation is not as good as other technologies. Many times, that comes from those that sell other technologies, or people that are not completely familiar with sublimation. Kevin Lumberg has over 18 years of experience in the sublimation industry at all levels from sublima- tion shop owner, managing the Johnson Plastics Plus dye-sublimation business for over 13 years, and managing the operations of a sublimation cut- and-sew apparel manufacturer. He can be reached at By Kevin Lumberg Zero in on Crisp, Clear Sublimation Images Tips for best results

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