December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 D E C E M B E R P R I N T W E A R || 57 SUBLIMATION AND HEAT TRANSFERS Sublimation is a relatively new method compared to others within apparel deco- rating, so regular developments are almost expected. The method's capabilities have grown this year with an initiative for inks that can be applied to fabrics other than polyester, a wider range of color capabili- ties for smaller shops, and solutions that allow for cut-and-sew sublimation. Kyle Hinton, Johnson Plastics, explains that fluorescent ink options have also ex- panded to smaller-format sublimation printers, which will make the price point more accessible to small-scale sublimation printers. "Studies have shown that people will look at an item with fluorescent colors four times longer than an item with a stan- dard color gamut," Hinton says about the demand for the bright inks. Despite the push for sublimation ink that can be applied to other fabrics and blends, polyester still offers the best results after printing. Performance polyester makes an excellent substrate for this reason, with its ability to offer sharp, photorealistic images on a breathable substrate that can be found in more markets than ever before. Heat presses are also becoming more compatible with sublimation printing. Some, for example, allow garments to be loaded onto the press from either the front or the rear or have platens that are easier to change for printing on differently-sized substrates like socks or backpacks. But, heat presses previously hit an ob- stacle with the popularity of lighter, more delicate fabrics hitting wholesale. Accord- ing to Josh Ellsworth, STAHLS', heat transfer and garment manufacturers have had to work together to get heat transfers that get good results on tri-blends and per- formance fabrics. Many suppliers have de- veloped stretchy, lightweight heat transfer vinyl to work with these lighter fabrics. Heat press manufacturers have also worked with garment distributors to help prevent dye-migration on polyester gar- ments. Cationic polyester is much less Above: Mixed-media applications will be- come more accessible with the growth of mul- tiple decoration meth- ods. (Image courtesy Hirsch) Left: High-vol- ume production across all fields has reaped the benefits of new techno- logical improvements. (Image courtesy Hirsch) Left: Heat presses can apply transfers at lower and lower temperatures, so much so that delicate fabrics and materials can be printed. (Image courtesy Hotronix) Center: Fluorescent ink options have now become available and affordable for smaller-format sublimation printing. (Image courtesy Johnson Plastics) Right: Polyester still boasts the best results for sublimation printing, though strides have been made to make printing on cotton possible. (Image courtesy Johnson Plastics)

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