Awards & Engraving

March '16

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44 • A&E MARCH 2016 I t's no secret that sublimation is a booming market. With full-color, vibrant images and equipment that becomes more user friendly by the minute, the allure of sublimation as an embellishing technology is enticing. What started as a decorating method mostly for apparel and other soft sub- strates has since exploded into some- thing that can be applied to almost anything provided the item is made from polyester or has a polymer coating. For awards shops, this spells money. Hard substrate options for sublimation are easier than ever to find and sublimate, so why not take advantage of this sweet-tasting opportunity and add them to your offer- ings? There are more than a few industry insiders who think awards retailers should be doing so. A LITTLE HISTORY These days, sublimation is everywhere. Be it a hard or soft substrate, subli- mation has become a go-to deco- rating method for awards and engraving shops everywhere. But to truly appre- ciate this technology, let's start from the beginning. " S u b l i m a t i o n o r i g i n a l l y s t a r t e d decades ago primarily geared towards fab- rics," says Kyle Hinton, Johnson Plastics. As the 90s rolled around, hard substrates made their way into the sublimation picture, starting with ceramic mugs. As technology advanced, so did the substrate options. Such options currently include acrylic, glass, aluminum and even wood. This is largely tied to advancements in the technology and methodology. "The coating method has changed in our industry so that now hard surfaces for sublimation last longer," notes the team at Unisub. There have also been dramatic improvements in fade resistance as well as the scratch and abrasion resistance of the surfaces. Standards have also continued to grow as time has progressed. Fast-forward to today, and sublimation is still experiencing advancements in both the technology and substrate world. "Without a doubt, printing technology in the subli- HOW HARD CAN IT BE? By Cassie Green IMAGE COURTESY UNISUB Key chains are a popular hard sublimatable substrate among many different customer groups. IMAGES COURTESY JOHNSON PLASTICS Mugs were among the first hard substrates available for sublimation. The advancement of sublimation technology is a major factor in the expansion of hard substrate options. A Solid Argument for Sublimating Hard Substrates

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