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Care and Usage
The process of Dye Sublimation
The specialty imprinting business can be comprised of several different processes. Many are familiar with screen printing and engraving, but dye sublimation is often confusing when it comes to understanding it's place in the industry.
What exactly is Dye Sublimation? Essentially, it is a heat transfer process that utilizes special dye based inks. They require using printers such as Epson that have Piezo heads that do not require heat when applying them to a transfer paper. A variety of models are available that can accept ink cartridges or bulk systems depending on one's particular needs. The word "sublimation" actually refers to the process of converting from a solid to a gas, and back to a solid again. When activated by heat, the inks are transferred to either a synthetic fabric such as polyester, or into a polymer coating on hard goods such as coffee mugs, tiles and special plastics. Since the inks actually dye the fabric, a special coating is not required, but natural fibers such as cotton will not accept the dyes.
What can one print? Being a digital process, it enables the ability to produce vibrant full color photos and images on a variety of blank products. The limitations as stated above do require a special coating for hard surfaces and synthetic fabrics, and being a dye, can not be used on dark backgrounds or items that can not withstand 350° to 400° F. Beyond that, one is limited only by their imagination, their graphics skills and the available substrates.
What equipment is needed? To get started only requires a few basic pieces. First of course is a computer, preferably with lots of memory for handling large file sizes for graphics and photos. A graphics program for image editing and preparation with the most common being Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, Corel Draw and Paint Shop. Unless you are extremely adept at color correction, you will want to be sure you have an ICC profile for your program as well as the printer you will be using. Epson printers are the only choice in small format, and a reliable ink vendor can help guide you as to which models might be best for your particular needs, and supply you with the proper Dye Sublimation inks.
A special transfer paper is needed for proper pressing. Many like a high release paper for fabrics, and another for hard goods. Much will depend on exactly what you are planning to produce, and again, a reliable vendor can help with recommendations. Last, but certainly not least is a heat press, used for pressing fabrics and most hard goods such as tiles and plastic. Items such as mugs can be done in a special mug press or in an oven with wraps. Of course there are other incidental items used for various products that time and a little experience soon help learn some of the tricks of the trade.
Can anyone do this? While the process itself is not extremely difficult, it does help to have some graphics skills as well as plain old business sense. There is a learning curve to insure proper colors, placement of images, and the ability to overcome problems that arise, much like any other business. Though not insurmountable, problems can be frustrating at times, but certainly gets easier as you go. Once the basic skills are mastered, it opens up a whole new world of customization and personalization in rich full color.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to help any way we can.
Paramount Services Inc.
2205 SW 57th Avenue
Hollywood, FL 33023
(954) 981-9661 Local/International