March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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94 | PRINTWEAR M A RC H 20 1 5 DYE SUBLIMATION With dye sublimation, a mirror image is printed onto paper with a dry sublima- tion ink, and the heat transforms the ink from a solid to gas, which is permanently trapped in the polyester. You need a dye sublimation printer, sublimation inks, specialty paper, and heat press. No cutter is necessary. Sublimation transfers are compatible with substrates that have polyester content or coating. On garments, the inks are cap- tured only in the polyester fibers, so the vibrancy directly correlates to the polyes- ter content. Because sublimation inks are translucent, sublimation transfers work on white or light colors. Sublimation also works on hard goods. You can get started with a printer and ink for about $400. With another $400 for the heat press and a negligible amount for pa- per, sublimation starts for less than $1,000. With sublimation, the hand is soft, and it offers a range of vibrant colors. Sublima- tion is easy to work with and offers wash- ability as well as color for the life of the garment. Because sublimation colors are based on the whiteness of the substrate, there can be consistency issues when printing on items of different shades of white. Some sublimation printers and inks require daily maintenance to prevent dry out and clog- ging. Dye sublimation is a level up from inkjet and laser transfers in terms of quality, and it offers the potential for expansion into new products and markets. It also works on performance fabrics. There are hundreds of polyester-coated products available in the market, many of which can give a shop an easy entry into promotional products. PRINTER/CUTTER In this process, a solvent or eco-solvent ink- jet printer prints onto a media that is then cut and weeded. After weeding, a mask is used to lift the transfer off its carrier to ap- ply it to the garment. This is one of today's most widely used digital processes. You need a printer/cutter, graphics software, heat press, printing media, and solvent or eco-solvent ink. DIGITAL TRANSFERS Above: A printer/cutter is a versatile process for creating digital transfers because of the wide range of media available. (Image courtesy Stahls') Left: Laser transfers have separate papers for light and dark shirts. There is also a self-weeding type of pa- per that allows you to pull away only the design from the carrier sheet. (Image courtesy Stahls')

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