Awards & Engraving

April '18

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8 THE SUBLIMATION REPORT • Spring 2018 a-e-mag.com • printwearmag.com include four and eight-color options (CMYK or dual-CYMK), as well as CMYK with an additional four colors. • Paper. Choices for sublimation paper vary from cut sheets for small-format printers to roll-fed paper for larger printers. Depending on the applica- tion, some roll-fed papers have an added tackiness, which aides in the production of printed apparel since it helps avoid a double image, or ghosting, when printing. • Software. Many shops already involved in the graphics-based industry have design software on-hand. For those starting from scratch, after the initial costs of purchasing a software suite, there are a wealth of online tutorials, webinars, and videos to help with the learning cur ve. Some resources are exclusively available from the software designers you purchase programs from, while other helpful walk-throughs and demonstrations are readily available on places like YouTube and third-party websites of graphic design professionals. Kavanagh also suggests a few auxiliary tools such as heat tape, spray adhesive, protective gloves, protective paper, and a protective cover for the bottom platen of the heat press. For easy customization, she recommends having a few jigs for smaller items like keychains, socks, and decorative ornaments. SHOPPING AROUND Since purchasing sublimation equip- ment, especially the printer, can get com- plicated, Kavanagh recommends buyers ask themselves a handful of core questions as they field their options. "The best questions to ask are ones that will get you to evaluate your needs: What do I want to make, in what quantity do I want to make these items, and how much volume of business do I expect to get?" she notes. For beginners, Ellston also recom- mends finding a seller that can offer guidance to maximize their purchase. Experienced technicians in the process, he explains, can impart some key wisdom to newcomers and even some useful startup training. "A few questions with a distribu- tor's tech support team can offer insights into the depth of knowledge that exists and offer confidence in the purchase of a sublimation system," he adds. In addition to technical knowledge and end-user suppor t, sources con- tend that buyers should look to a seller that offers holistic support in terms of business management. While tracking down a quality printer at a price that fits a shop's budget is important, finding a seller that provides some foresight for things like expansion and growth is also important. What a shop should avoid is simply amassing an arsenal of equipment without logically planning how it will all fit together. "As your business grows, you need your equipment to be uniform, and your production flow to run smooth," explains Jeffrey-Andersen. "You want to work with a dealer who is an expert, and one that can help you set up your shop correctly." SHOP REQUIREMENTS If a shop already has a workspace where they're designing or decorating other products, they can typically inte- grate a sublimation production line into their workflow without much disruption. Beginners with a desktop printer and heat press can usually operate with a space that runs between 6-by-6 and 4-by-9 feet, depending on the size of the heat press. For sublimation printers, shops will want to ensure they maintain a moderate tempera- ture and low humidity. These components help ensure the printer achieves optimal per- formance and output. "Sublimation paper tends to ebb and flow with its environment," says Ellston. "Paper will absorb moisture from the air, and too much humidity can cause issues with color shifting." Adding an air conditioner in a humid environment, or a humidifier in a dry environment can help balance out these variables. Regarding electricity, standard 16-by- 20-inch heat presses usually use 120V power, but having the press on a sepa- rate circuit from the printer is recom- mended. This helps avoid any issues with power draws, and ideally sets shops up for expansion down the road if they decide to upgrade to a larger heat press. If businesses are considering high- volume output, Maxwell recommends splitting the production into two separate Sublimation is a great application for soft goods such as apparel. IMAGE COURTESY CONDÉ SYSTEMS continued on page 12 Sublimation Basics

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