What is sublimation?

Looking for a simple yet effective add-on to your current business? Ever thought about sublimation? But what is sublimation? TEN looks into this process.

Sublimation printing is a process of printing digital designs onto a special type of paper using special dye-based ink. The paper is then transferred onto a substrate, such as a piece of fabric, using a heat press.

The heat causes the ink on the paper to turn into a gas and bond with the fibres of the substrate, resulting in a permanent, high-quality, full-colour print. This process is particularly effective on polyester or polymer-coated materials, as the sublimation ink bonds best with these types of surfaces.

Sublimation printing is commonly used for creating custom apparel, such as t-shirts and sports uniforms, as well as promotional items like mugs, keychains, and phone cases. It allows for precise and vibrant colour reproduction, as well as the ability to print intricate designs and photographs.

What do you need to do sublimation printing?

To do sublimation printing, you will need the following materials and equipment:

1. Sublimation printer: A special type of printer that uses dye-based ink. These printers are designed to print on sublimation paper, which has a special coating to help the ink transfer onto the substrate.

2. Sublimation ink: Dye-based ink that is designed to bond with polyester or polymer-coated materials when subjected to high heat.

3. Sublimation paper: Special paper that is coated with a layer of polymer. The ink is printed onto this paper and then transferred onto the substrate.

4. Heat press: A machine that applies heat and pressure to transfer the design from the sublimation paper to the substrate. Heat presses come in different sizes and configurations to accommodate various types of substrates.

5. Substrate: A material onto which the design will be transferred. Sublimation works best on polyester or polymer-coated materials such as ceramic mugs, t-shirts, phone cases, and mouse pads.

6. Design software: You will need software to create your designs or modify existing ones. Common design software programs include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and CorelDRAW.

7. Protective gear: Because sublimation involves high heat and pressure, it is important to wear protective gear such as heat-resistant gloves and eye protection.

Once you have all the necessary equipment and materials, you can print your design onto the sublimation paper using the sublimation printer, cut the design out, and transfer it onto the substrate using the heat press.

How can you make money with sublimation?

If you’re interested in making money with sublimation, there are a few things you can do:

1. Offer Custom Printing Services: You can offer custom printing services to individuals, businesses, or organisations. You can print designs onto t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, mousepads, and other items that can be used as promotional items, gifts, or personal use.

2. Create Your Own Products: You can also create your own products using sublimation. This can include creating your own line of t-shirts, mugs, and other products that feature your designs. You can sell these products online or in a physical store.

3. Offer Classes: If you’re an expert in sublimation, you can offer classes to teach others how to use this process. This can include classes for individuals, businesses, or schools. You can charge a fee for these classes, and it can be a great way to share your knowledge and skills with others.

4. Partner with Other Businesses: You can partner with other businesses, such as printing companies or promotional product companies, to offer sublimation services. This can be a great way to expand your business and reach a wider audience.

Can a sublimation printing service be profitable?

Yes, a sublimation printing service can be profitable if it is run efficiently and effectively. Sublimation printing offers a wide range of opportunities for customizing products, such as apparel, home decor, promotional items, and more.

Here are a few factors that can impact the profitability of a sublimation printing service:

1. Equipment and Supplies: The initial investment in equipment and supplies can be expensive, but these costs can be recouped over time with regular orders.

2. Marketing: Effective marketing and advertising can help generate leads and increase sales. You can reach out to potential clients through social media, email marketing, online advertising, and local networking events.

3. Quality and Speed of Service: Providing high-quality products and fast turnaround times can help you stand out from the competition and build a loyal customer base.

4. Pricing: Pricing your services competitively can help you attract and retain customers. It is important to factor in the cost of materials, equipment, and labour when setting your prices.

5. Niche Markets: Focusing on niche markets, such as sports teams, schools, and businesses, can help you establish a specialised reputation and generate repeat business.

Overall, a sublimation printing service can be profitable with the right business strategy and focus on customer satisfaction.

In TEN magazine you can find a supplier that will be able to help you with any questions you may have, advise you in the best set up for your needs, and help you decide which sublimation solution is the right one for your business.