March '23

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M M A R C H 2 0 2 3 • G R A P H I C S P R O 5 1 Sublimation printing can be a great solution for short custom runs, photore- alistic images, and a soft hand. Plus, the explosion of polyester-based fabrics and sublimatable products is making subli- mation the preferred option for more and more applications. Along with this increase in popular- ity has been a growing interest from within the decorated apparel industry for wide-format machines. Typically defined as units from 42" and above. But gar- ment decorators are finding that the ris- ing demand for all-over printing, as well as production efficiencies, are making wide format a profitable investment. And of course, it also opens the door for T-shirt shops to expand into signage and graphic markets. Buyers like the feel of sublimation, and with wide format, you can print a roll of paper and apply it onto a roll of fabric to be cut and sewn. Wide-format printers allow not only for larger images, but also for more economical printing of smaller items, as well as an expanded range of substrates. In addition to things like blankets, beach towels, and scarves, they make it possible to print flags, fabric or metal photo panels, signage, and decorative pieces. Wide format also can be used to boost production speed and decrease cost through batch printing. e dwell time is the same for printing 100 aluminum ornaments as for one, and you can print as many ornaments at once as you can fit under the heat press. Some substrates might require a little more time, but it is still substantially less than pressing one at a time. In addition to supporting larger runs a nd fa ster production, wide-format sublimation printers can offer variable data capabilities, making it possible to add personalization to products on a pro- duction level. If you are looking to invest in wide-for- mat sublimation equipment, there are sev- eral key factors to consider. Not just the nuts and bolts of the equipment, but the investment considerations. 1.) Print size: Consider the size of the items you plan to print and make sure the equipment you select can accommo- date those sizes. All overshirts, for exam- ple, require a minimum of 44" wide print- ing technology, but larger sizes might even need bigger. Also, consider the print speed versus what you can produce. Even gang- ing up (or grouping) smaller items on a roll is a great solution for speed, but remember the other steps in the process. You have to cut the transfer apart, pre- pare, and then press, so you might end up with a lot of prints that are waiting to be produced. What is the sweet spot for your business? You'll also possibly need a wide-format heat press. e number of presses in the range between 16" × 20" and a 44" width is limited, but it is likely to grow concom- itantly with the interest in wide-format printing. At the 44" and above size you are looking at a large piece of iron and the price tag that comes with that large heat press can be shocking to companies that are coming from small format. Because of the size of a wide-format heat press, it's preferable to get one that's air operated. Plus, don't forget to take size into account relative to getting the units through the door, as well as with respect to floor space. It's also important to be aware of the electrical requirements of (Image courtesy Durst) • In various materials for different performance characteristics • Round & square corner variations • 4" industry standard length • Large format 6" & 12" lengths Contact your local sign & equipment supplier The manufacturer of squeegees and applicators for over 30 years The World's Leading SQUEEGEE & Application Tools

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