Awards & Engraving

January '17

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40 • A&E JANUARY 2017 Your customers are asking for sublimation—make sure you're familiar with the process. Once your shirt is pretreated and dried, load on the shirt platen as you did with the light color shirt. In the RIP or print driver software, the additional step is to select White Underbase. You will have dif- ferent amounts of underbase white ink to choose from. Once this selection is made, the printer knows it will print white ink and then color ink on top. After printing is complete, the ink needs to be heat set for wash-ability. You can use a conveyor dryer (screen print dryer) or a heat press. Nearly all decora- tors use the heat press as they can place it right by the printer. Cure times vary, but most manufacturers recommend about 330 F for the curing temperature. When using a heat press to dry pre- treat, use heavy pressure for about 20-30 seconds until the shirt is dry. You cannot print on a damp shirt without ill effect. When curing a printed shirt, you will use light pressure so as not to mix the white and color ink together for a dull finish. With both processes, you use a sili- cone-coated parchment paper to protect the heating element from a buildup on pretreat or ink. You don't want to use the Teflon sheet that likely came with your heat press. Teflon holds in the moisture, which impacts your ability to cure a water- base ink. OVERVIEW OF THE SUBLIMATION PROCESS Aaron: The sublimation process at its core is a heat transfer process. Unlike traditional heat transfer papers or vinyls, with sublimation, the ink becomes a gas due to the heat and then chemically bonds to the polymer surface it is being pressed against. This means the ink is actually dying the fabric or coating of the hard good and once it cools below the gassing temperature, it is permanently part of the substrate. One of the big myths out there is that you need to heat the item to 400 F to make the transfer. Actually each different substrate has a little different tempera- ture it needs, and each ink color gasses at a little different temperature. Ultimately, the inks become active at around 350 F— typically a range of 370 to 420 degrees is used for best color output. Different types of substrates dissipate heat; there- fore, you must either test each product or get specific instructions from the product manufacturer. A good rule of thumb for telling where your testing is, is the blacks of your transfer. If they are a green hue, there is not enough time or temperature; if they are a brown hue, you have too much time or temperature. Quality sublimation also relies on the heat press you are using providing even heat and pressure. If you don't have these If you can dream it, you can most likely find it as a sublimation blank. In direct-to-garment printing, 100 percent ring-spun cotton is your best friend. Left: This is a white underbase print before the CMYK color pass in the DTG process. Right: Pretreatment being applied using a hand-held paint sprayer. DIGITAL DECORATION IMAGE COURTESY OF PIC THE GIFT LLC IMAGE COURTESY OF UNISUB IMAGE COURTESY OF EPSON IMAGES COURTESY OF EQUIPMENT ZONE

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