Sign & Digital Graphics

November '15

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • November 2015 • 63 One of the most popular base sub- strates is called fiberglas-reinforced plas- tic, or FRP. It is coated and cut into many different products, including license plates and luggage tags. Another product, hardboard or Masonite, can be cut into numerous items, including drink coast- ers. Medium density fiber board is made into plaques and things that you put on the wall, and metal is a great substrate for dye sublimation, Gross says. There's been a "viral trend toward metal art, putting art or photographs on metal and hanging them on that wall," Gross says. "That has taken on a life all its own, and it absolutely looks beautiful." Chromaluxe is one of the products that Conde sells. It was developed by Conde's partner Universal Woods and is an extra thick metal coating that glows, Gross says. "It has a 3 D appearance to it because of the thickness of it. It has beautiful bright colors because of the sublimation process." It comes in many sizes from small name badges to large 4' x 8' prints. "We have just barely touched the surface of things we can do with sub- limation," he adds. "It's our job, from a substrate point of view, to come up with new base substrates. And our job is to take those substrates and turn them into something useful or valuable to you." Gross adds that "sublimation is an easy business for most people. It is a very easy add-on business. And if you don't have a business, you could open an Etsy store." Shops that want to be successful with sublimation need to be innovative. Gross recommends that shop owners pursue something they are passionate about and sell into that market. If they love pets, make products that appeal to the pet industry. Every product a shop makes should say who made it somewhere, he adds. Put referral information somewhere on the product to help with reorders. Sublimation is great for trophies and awards, anything that requires dif- ferent names in one job run, Martin says. Those types of jobs are hard for screen printers to accomplish but they are perfect for dye sublimation because the printer is cutting the individual designs out of paper and transferring them as a group. "It is a lot more efficient so your costs are very reasonable when you look at the overall cost and capabilities of what you are trying to achieve," Martin says. High school clubs, sports teams and corporate awards are good markets for dye sublimation. There have also been a lot of interior design applications, like inlay flooring applications. For essentially an investment of $1,200 to $3,000 you can buy a professional sublimation system and you're in business.

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