Sublimation Tutorial

Sublimation Tutorial

Sublimation is becoming a more and more popular and profitable business. So,…

What is sublimation?

What do you need to make sure your sublimation success?

What is sublimation?

The sublimation we talked about here is a printing method that can print digital images to actual products, like mugs, tiles and apparel. In other words we transfer graphic design into imprint products.

Definition of sublimation is the change from solid state to gas state without moving into liquid state. It was discovered that some organic dye, if you apply heat and pressure to the ink, it will turn to gas state and bond with polyester. Then, some really smart people reengineered some printer and ink supply systems to make it  easy to print  from ink jet printer. So, here comes sublimation print. It’s not a transfer or toner print, the image is permeated into polyester fabric or polyester coating. You can’t actually feel the images, it becomes one piece after sublimation. It sounds complicated, but it’s a very easy process to work with.

Sublimation is one of the most cost efficient ways to customizing or personalizing a product like mugs cell phone case, tiles, trophies and appeals, etc. If you do 1 or 2 products, compare to a few thousand products, cost per print wouldn’t various that much. It is becoming a more and more popular and profitable business.

What do you need to make sure your sublimation success?

Printer and Ink

Sublimation printers are regular inkjet reengineered to carry sublimation inks. Sublimation ink is a special kind of organic ink. If you heat it up to 150C or more, it will become gas state and bond to certain type of material. Be aware, it is not a regular ink that comes with printer. Regular ink won’t sublimate. Sawgrass and Virtuoso system is by far the best ink, printer and color management system combine on desktop printer. Sawgrass has e a great worldwide distribution system. If you are living in those countries and areas that have sawgrass distributor, please don’t hesitate to come to them. If not, you can also search on local eBay or Amazon; you should be able to find a good substitute there.

Photo USA is using and selling large format Epson printer and bulk ink in production for decades. It is not that easy to set it up at beginning, but it’s been proven to be  reliable and economically feasible.

Tips for choose inks and printer.

Ink and printer and color profile should come as a set. If you buy ink and printer from different vendors, when you run into problems, maybe neither of them will cover your customer service.

There is no actual black ink in sublimation print, black ink is a compound of the other 3 colors, cyan, and magenta, yellow. True black is the one of the most difficult color to achieve, because cyan, magenta and yellow ink do not  sublimate in same temperature and same speed. So when you are testing a new type of ink and printer, new blanks, make sure you print something true black.

Sublimation paper

Sublimation paper is kind of release paper that is engineered for sublimation process. It works as a media to carry the ink to the product. Regular inkjet paper will work, but it just didn’t work that well. In sublimation industry, paper and ink are almost free compared with the cost of blank. So do not think about saving some pennies on ink and paper, but waste blanks by didn’t get the right result you want.

Beaver paper is one most popular paper in United States. Each pack of paper is individual well packed by Cardboard Box. They even visible design that you can tell right and wrong side. But it’s very costly.

Photo USA is selling roll and sheet sublimation paper with 25 years factory printing experience back up. Doesn’t cost a lot, most importantly, it is very good.

Tips for choose sublimation paper.

There is right and wrong side of sublimation paper. So pay attention paper’s packaging. Manufacturer usually will show instruction on packaging.

For the most of times, different sublimation paper will work just find across different platforms of ink and printer.

Heat presses

If you want sublimation process happen, it need apply heat and pressure. A good heat press will provide you an even heat pressure. Heat presses are designed for different shape of products, like mug press, flat press, cap press, roller press, and vacuum press. There are different presses for different blanks, also combo machines is available on industry.

On large or mass scale of production or fulfillment business, we keen to use kiln oven or convection oven. Pressure will be provided by jigs that we design for different blanks. It can save more time and will provide more consistent result. There are not a lot of factories are able to do this. Luckily, Photo USA is one of the really good one.

Tips on choose heat presses.

Cost of a heat press varies largely depending on the press that you are looking for.  The cost various, depend on how is manufacturer wire the heat coil and how the press ergonomic designed. A good heat press will last very long time. Some real good press will have good 2nd hand market values. So, if you decided to keep doing sublimation. Buy a better press!

Sublimation Blanks

Photo USA’s main business is coming from sublimation blanks. That’s what we really good at. Materials that sublimation will work are limited. It only works with object that have a sublimation coating or material that have a good amount percentage of polyester fiber on it.  Every blank that on Photo USA website is ready for sublimation. Ceramics, metals, MDF, Stones, glass, even papers, has coating. Apparel and other textile are made by materials that work sublimation.

Orca coating is one of Photo USA trade mark. We apply the coating on ceramic, metal, etc. it guaranteed durability, washability,  bright and vivid color.

Sublimation accessories

Common accessories are heat tape and gloves, rubber sheets, printing jigs. It’s just tools to help you with the process. You absolutely need correct accessories for different types of blanks. So, don’t forget to ask for what accessories will need, when you shopping for blanks.

Sublimation technique

Sublimation process is a chemical reaction that requires even heat and even pressure. As I mentioned before, you don’t want to waste your blanks. That’s the whole reason that you choose right equipment and supplies. Correct sublimation technique will assure you print your customized product successfully.

Who is Photo USA

Photo USA is the leading manufacturer of sublimation supplies and equipment. We specialize in applying sublimation coating to ceramics, metals and all kinds imaging products. The company was founded in 1992 in California and now headquarter locates in Fremont.  As the sublimation industry leader, Photo USA  keeps innovating, improving and expending. Our most famous brand ‘Orca coating’ products (especially mugs) have been sold to over 150 countries.  The Founder, Mr. James Peng, is known as “Mug King” in this industry (you may be impressed by his Blue Tesla’s car plate!).

In following blogs and videos, we will review more insight about printing technique, industry trend. Most importantly, how to be successful in sublimation business.

Coming up next…….

What is the standard for a good quality sublimation mugs?

Sublimation mug is the foundation in sublimation business. Everybody needs mugs. There is thousands or more manufacturer, they all claim they have AAA or A+ grade of mugs, for some reason they all looks the same. We will show you how to sort out good and bad.

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