April '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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SUBLIMATION TRANSFERS Sublimation as a transfer is the process of turning a liquid into a gas with heat, then using pressure to transfer that gas from one surface to another. What's so great about sublimation transfers is the soft hand and the fact that the decora- tion is permanently bonded to the garment. The reason that you have such a soft hand and permanent color are because the ink dyes the garment and becomes part of the fibers. Sublimation gives you a vibrant recreation of color and is versatile enough to go on spe- cially-coated hard goods and polyester items like mousepads. But, it requires polyester and will not bond with natural fibers like cotton. The magic of this process is the ink, so unlike laser and inkjet transfers, the pa- per is just a carrier for the ink. It is best to use sublimation paper so the ink will be released properly, but again, it is just the carrier. When creating designs that have white, those white areas are just a void of the color. White ink is not available for this process. To decorate dark garments with this process, you will need to find an all-over garment contractor or invest in wide-format printers and heat presses. It is a worthwhile investment but can reach the $30,000 range. 82 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 7 82 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 7 PROS: • Low startup cost • Permanent decoration and no loss of color • Opportunity to do products besides gar- ments CONS: • Polyester only; cannot decorate 100 per- cent cotton shirts • No white ink, so you must create all-over transfers for dark garments • High ink costs, especially in the small- format world Markets: Fashion/ boutique garments, outdoor garments, and team jerseys. TIP: When getting into this process, take a good hard look at the wide-format printer options on the market. This will ultimately save you in ink costs. SUBLIMATION Above: The sublimation process turns a liquid into a gas with heat, which bonds the ink into the fibers of a garment as opposed to on top of it. (Image courtesy Coastal Business Supplies Inc.) Right: Sublimation transfers allow for all-over decorations. (Image courtesy Before + Again) Below right: Because the transfer becomes a part of the garment, it does not crack or peel. (Image courtesy Speedline Athletic Wear) DIGITALTRANSFERS

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