Awards & Engraving

December '17

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A&E DECEMBER 2017 • a-e-mag.com 71 Sublimation mean it's the proper tool for the job. Inkjet is also an aqueous or water-based tech- nology, which means that, depending on your environment, it can be a little on the high-maintenance side. Anyone that has an inkjet technology system has likely had to do a nozzle check and head cleanings after a weekend away to get the print head firing properly. Laser transfers have come a long way with the introduction of white toners a few years ago. The paper companies have been hard at work to provide us with great products and self-weeding transfer papers. The dry toner is also not a maintenance issue because it is a somewhat sealed dry powder. The con- trol of the system operating environment is not as critical as with the inkjet printing systems. In addition, the laser printing sys- tems are extremely versatile because of all of the papers that are now available for doing everything from light and dark garments to mugs and tiles, and from temporary tattoos to water slide decals and more. Using the two-step self-weeding transfers for dark garments was a difficult process in the early years, but with the new papers available in the industry, it has become a go-to for the short-run volume up to 24 pieces on dark media, and all the way up to 100 or more on light. With standard and premium papers available, the wash-ability and durability is now great on the standard and exceptional on the premium transfers. The hard surface papers lend themselves to most hard surfaces that can be heat pressed, and the water slide decal paper works on the items that cannot take the heat. The initial investment for a white toner laser printing system is less than $10,000 and is not only a perfect short-run solution for screen printers, but a great and versa- tile tool for startup companies. It also acts as a screen preparation solution, enabling small shops to grow into screen printing without having to make the investment into a printer to create film positives, an exposure unit to burn your screens, or emulsion to harden and create a screen. Using a two-step paper, we can now digitally create a transfer that can be pressed directly to the screen, making a screen in less than four minutes from start to finish using no chemicals and cutting out the need for an exposure unit and film positive printer. Because of all of the advancements and papers now available, the versatility is second to none. SUBLIMATION TOOLS Sublimation is also a versatile technology that has always been second to none when it comes to durability and wash-ability. Subli- mation is forever on a garment. In sublima- tion, we are actually dying the threads of the garment, so there is no hand, or feel, to the printing. There is no need for glue or polymers to take the ink to the garment. Sublimation is gassing the ink into the gar- ment or substrate's coating. As a result of years and years of advance- ments in the coating processes, there are thousands of sublimation substrates available. You can sublimate on everything from mugs and tiles to fishing lures and phone cases. Because sublimation is a poly-specific tech- nology, your color retention is directly related to the polyester content in the substrate. The better the coating, the better the transfer for color and the higher the durability. That being said, if the customer's focus is basic cotton T-shirts, sublimation may not be the right tool for the job. If the customer's focus is performance wear, then sublimation is absolutely the way to go. Because of the low cost for an initial setup (as low as $500), sublimation is a tool that is an absolute no brainer for any shop. There are a number of equipment plat- forms, or levels, with sublimation: the entry level or desktop format, 24 inches and under; the mid-range which is 24 to 44 inches wide; and the wide format, which is 44 inches and greater. The 44-inch is the first level that lends itself to all-over printing. At 44 inches, you have options as far as the method to your madness. To cut-and-sew or not to cut- and-sew? That is the question. The oversized flat presses available enable everything from all-over printing to fully manufactured gar- ments, blankets, hardboard, floor mats, and more. The calendar or roll presses enable you to do the cut-and-sew application for paintball jerseys, motocross jerseys, flags, high-end uniforms, and much more. CONCLUSION Do your homework and be sure to ask the right questions. We personally believe that heat transfer and sublimation have evolved to a place that they both are neces- sary add-ons to your growing arsenal. Kevin Lumberg is a Sublimation Sales Specialist at Johnson Plastics Plus. Visit Johnson Plastics Plus on the web at www. johnsonplasticsplus.com. For further informa- tion, Kevin can be reached at 800-869-7800 ext. 5737 or by email at klumberg@jpplus. com. Sean Stewart is a Digital Printing and Equipment Specialist with Johnson Plastics Plus . If you have questions feel free and con- tact Sean via email sstewart@jpplus.com or on his direct line 405-470-5703 A&E IMAGE COURTESY KIM WRIGHT/THE NBM SHOW Everything from T-shirts to coasters are available for sublimation.

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