December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 D EC E M B E R PRINTWEAR | 85 orders, the larger printer is a more eco- nomical choice. Choosing the right heat press is just as im- portant as choosing the right printer. Your press should always be slightly larger than the maximum area of the printer. A 16" X 20" heat press is a good match for a 13" X 19" printer. However, the heat press is the most expensive part of your startup costs, so you might consider buying one that is sub- stantially larger than your printer. A 16" X 20" press for an 8 1/2" X 14" printer allows you to grow into a larg- er printer in the future without having to buy another heat press. When you see an increase in routine order size, it's sometimes more efficient to have two smaller printers feeding one heat press rather than buying a larger printer. In addition to heat press size, focus on quality. Sublimation is highly dependent on precise time, temperature, and pressure set- tings. Top-of-the-line presses deliver reliably on these conditions while budget presses may not. Inconsistent settings result in inconsistent images on your substrates, so it's vital that you select a high-quality unit. Remember that buying the right alit press is an investment, not just a purchase, and it allows you to produce high-quality subli- mation for many years. Once you have your equipment in place, you're ready to start making products. As with any new venture, learning what works and what doesn't takes some time. Plan for a period of trial and error in building your production routines and creating test prod- ucts to find which temperatures, pressures, and other environmental factors produce the most consistent product Making this commitment early in your business saves money in wasted time and materials and helps you design an efficient production system. Your greatest cost in sub- limation is usually in the labor and substrate, so keep those as low as possible while still de- livering the best-quality product. Owning a sublimation business is both rewarding and profitable for even novice decorators. Now it's up to you to make the right decisions for you and your business. pw For most startup sublimation businesses, desktop setups work well and can handle hundreds of diverse, high-margin products. (Image courtesy of Sawgrass Technologies)

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