Awards & Engraving

April '18

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Aaron Montgomery has been involved with the garment decorating and personalization industry s i n c e 2 0 0 0 a n d t h e digital printing industry since 1997. He is very actively involved in the industry trade shows via speaking, attending and exhibiting for the last 17 years. He also writes articles for the industry magazines and blogs on topics that include marketing, social media, the personalization market, and gar- ment decorating techniques. He is dedicated to helping small businesses grow and succeed. You can find Aaron co-hosting the industry's oldest and most listened to Podcast - 2 Regular Guys (www.2regularguys.com). You can also find blogs about a wide range of topics on his own website at aaronmontgomery.info. W elcome to wide-format sublimation. It is not some big, scary place, but a won- derful, profitable, and rela- tively easy manufacturing process. Do a few things right, and it's as easy or easier than starting in sublimation with a desktop setup. I want to debunk a few myths that I have heard and provide some tips on how to best enter the wide-format world, plus a few potential markets to add to your business. A majority of sublimators are using a small-format system and doing well. Small format is defined in the sublimation industry as any printer under 42 inches wide. So, with all of those people using small-format tech- nology, why bother looking at wide-format, roll-to-roll sublimation? Once we debunk the myths, I think you will find the answer to that question. MYTHS The biggest myth is the economics of get- ting into wide-format sublimation. For a lot of people, including myself, as soon as the words "wide format" are tossed around, visions of hun- dreds of thousands of dollars being spent, huge warehouses, and other head- aches come to mind. Fortunately for those of us who have overactive imaginations, it's not that bad. Typically, you can purchase a 44-inch printer system for about $7,000 to $9,000. It's a healthy investment, but not one that is out of reach. Some other costs involved could be a large-format heat press, but note that not all wide- format printing needs a large-format heat press. If you do need a large-format heat press, expect to spend between $10,000 to $20,000 depending on your needs, bringing that investment up to $30,000 to fully get into wide-format sublimation. That number could make you uncomfortable. A different way to make this type of large investment is leasing the equipment. If your credit is pretty good on a standard 60-month term lease with a $1 buyout, you would need to come up with about $500 to $700 per month. Many companies with wide-format capabilities have proved that making $700 a month in profit with sublimation printing is well within reach. The next myth I want to tackle is the cost savings. Yes, the labor is a big factor in your costs and there is plenty of margin in most products to handle the increased ink costs in a small-format printer. All it takes, though, is a little breakdown and 28 THE SUBLIMATION REPORT • Spring 2018 a-e-mag.com • printwearmag.com Debunking Wide-Format Sublimation Myths BY AARON MONTGOMERY you will find that things change pretty quick once you are able to jump to wide- format sublimation. If you are a small-format sublimator, you are likely paying about $70 for a 30ml ink cartridge. That is about $2.30 per ml. A typical sublimation transfer uses about 1.5ml of ink per square foot — you have about $3.75 per square foot of ink and paper cost (assuming paper is about $.25 per square foot for paper cost). Compared to large-format sublimation, where you pay approximately $0.15 per ml of ink, your cost is now less than $0.50 per square foot. I have also heard the myth "wide-format software is hard to use." While at first glance it seems more difficult, the process is the same, you just have a tool called a RIP software to help you along. If you are working with the right supplier, the RIP software should be set up on the front end as part of the purchase investment. Not all wide-format printing needs a large-format heat press. If you do need a large-format heat press, expect to spend between $10,000 to $20,000 depending on your needs. (Top photo)Typically, you can purchase a 44-inch printer system for about $7,000 to $9,000. IMAGE COURTESY HIX GRAPHICS

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