December '20

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4 4 G R A P H I C S P R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M M ost blank sublimatable products can be classified as either a soft substrate or a hard substrate. Examples of soft substrates include items made of polyester fabric such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, flags, towels, socks, blankets, mousepads (poly fabric on a rubber base), oven mitts, and more. In the case of polyester fabrics, the sublimation pro- cess actually dyes the threads without affecting the feel of the material. Examples of hard substrates include a variety of gifts and awards made of glass, metal, acrylic, slate, ceramic, porcelain, wood, and more. Different from polyester fabrics that are naturally sublimatable, hard substrates must have a spe- cial coating applied to them that will accept a transferred image. Since the quality of this pre-applied coating ultimately determines the durability, color, and clarity of images, a product's coating is an important factor to be aware of when compar- ing similar products with varying price points and/or from different suppliers. BASIC PROCESS As I mentioned, there's a huge variety of gifts and awards made/cut from larger sheets of metal, acrylic, wood, and other hard substrates. Products such as key tags, luggage tags, name badges, cutting boards, photo panels, picture frames, clocks, drink coasters, jewelry, and signage are just a few examples of the many product possibilities. Other popular imprintable items such as drinkware are made from ceramic, stainless steel, or special polymer materials. Each substrate (depending on type, size, thickness, and ability to conduct heat) has its own unique production in- structions that should be followed carefully. Instructions are typically provided by the supplier and should include important details such as the suggested type of paper to print on and the time, temperature, and pressure needed in the respec- tive heat press, mug press, or sublimation oven. Although specific transfer techniques vary from substrate to substrate, the basic objective is the same: 1. Secure a printed transfer to the substrate's imprintable area (using either heat tape or special adhesive spray). 2. Place a blank protective sheet of paper under and above the substrate/print- ed transfer (keeps your heat press clean of sublimation gas residue). 3. Adjust the heat press to the selected substrate's suggested temperature (typi- cally 400 F). 4. Adjust the heat press so that it provides the recommended amount of pres- sure (even pressure across the substrate's entire imprintable area is crucial). 5. Press for the recommended amount of time. 6. Remove the substrate from the heat, remove the transfer, and allow to cool (tip: placing in front of a fan or on a cooling plate allows the temp to quickly drop from the 400 F imaging temperature). Today, there are thousands of ready-to-sublimate products out there with countless more on the horizon. Following are just a few examples of new sub- limatable products that are available and the transfer technique for each. Once you're familiar with a substrate's characteristics, it's easy to adjust your pressing technique(s) to the many individual products that are offered. Road to Sublimation Success Sublimating New Hard Substrates A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N mitts, and more. In the case of polyester fabrics, the sublimation pro- cess actually dyes the threads without affecting the feel of the material. Examples of hard substrates include a variety of gifts and awards made of B Y D A V I D G R O S S Whether used to provide save-the-date info or pro- mote a business, a personalized refrigerator mag- net is a unique communication device that every- one loves. (All images courtesy David Gross) REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS Unisub is introducing several new metal shapes for use as refrigerator magnets: hex/honeycomb, rectangle, square, round, and banner/tag (banner shape can be flipped for use as a tag). Whether used to show off a favorite photo, provide save-the- date info, or to promote a business, a personalized refrigerator magnet is a unique and inexpensive communication device that everyone loves. Each shape comes with a 1" magnet attached to the back after imaging. Sublimate your contact info on the back so folks know where they came from. Basic materials list: Basic steps: 1. Download a digital product template and use it to create artwork for these uniquely shaped items. 2. Print the transfer. 3. Cover the bottom table of the heat press with a blank protective sheet of paper. 4. Secure transfer to metal using heat tape. 5. Place metal piece face-up (attached transfer face-down) on the protective paper, cover with another sheet of protective paper, and press for 75 seconds at 400 F with medium pressure. 6. Carefully remove the metal from the press, remove the transfer, and let cool. • Digital template • Printed transfer • Blank refrigerator magnets • Heat tape • Protective paper • Heat gloves • Flat heat press

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