January '21

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A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N ( Not so Heavy ) Metal T he scientific process of sublimation remains the same from fabrics to hard surface products, but the steps look a little different for each. Following, I discuss factors to consider when shifting your sublimation business from fabrics to include sublimating metal, specifically aluminum. EQUIPMENT: FABRIC VERSUS METAL The basic equipment list is mainly the same whether pressing T-shirts or metal panels: • Printer • Sublimation ink (not for fabrics only) • Heat press (must be able to reach 385 F) • Transfer/newsprint paper There are a few things to note, such as paper may differ for fabric versus metal panels. For shirts, you may have a clamshell heat press already. This can be used for small metal products but once you start really looking to increase your opportunities with metal, a 16" X 20" or 20" X 25" swing-away flat heat press are both among the most popular sizes for entry into this arena. This type of heat press allows for even distribution of heat and pressure. If you are creating metal signs for outdoor use, consider switching to an ink that is specifically formulated for outdoor material. Please note that not all metal is suggested for use outdoors. VARIABLES AND ASSISTANCE Just as trying out different brands of T-shirts will produce varying results, the same applies for metal. Some metal is powder spray coated and may have an uneven white base across the piece. Be sure to look up reviews and ask your distributor for guidance on metal brands, quality, and pricing. It may cost a little more but if a product is more consistent, you will have less production waste and frustration. Your distributor is a great resource for product assistance when looking at pivoting your business or trying out new products. Troubleshooting for sublimation is the same whether for fabric or metal: is your Above: Currently subli- mating shirts? Think be- yond fabric for your busi- ness growth. (All images courtesy Jennifer Foy) Here is top-level information on what to know for production, opportunities, variables, and even resources. ( so Heavy ) LOOKING AT ADDING METAL TO YOUR SUBLIMATION BUSINESS? 1 8 G R A P H I C S P R O J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M popular sizes for entry into this arena. This type B Y J E N N I F E R F O Y

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