Top 10 questions answered :
1. On what products can I sublimate?
In order to understand why only certain items are good for sublimation, you will need to first understand what the process of sublimation is. Basically, sublimation is when a solid turns to a gas without first becoming a liquid. Dry ice is a great visual example of sublimation. It goes from a solid state directly to a foggy gas as I’m sure you have seen many times in stage theatrics. With dye sublimation, the ink is actually a gel that is printed on special paper, becomes a gas when heated, and then turns back into a solid state on the substrate. Recommend products to sub on anything that has a poly coat.
2. Do the shirts have to be 100% polyester.
Shirts for sublimation need to be at the very least, 50% polyester. The higher percentage of polyester the better as the ink will only transfer to the poly fibers.
For best sublimation shirts we would recommend the following vendors:
Dnias Apparel: www.dniasapparel.com and Red Coat Design www.redcoatdesign.com
3. Is it possible to sublimate on 100% cotton shirts?
It is possible to sublimate on 100% cotton shirts, but it’s not as easy as you might think.
Cut a shape to match your design from white glitter flake HTV. Tack it to the shirt at 365 degrees for two seconds. Then align your sublimation transfer on top and press for an additional 60 seconds. Glitter can be a little girly and it is quite thick. I’ve used it, but it is not my favorite. Unfortunately there is no flat HTV that can withstand the higher temps for sublimation. The reason the glitter flake works is because of the glitter itself.
Transfer Paper- Simply print your design on it and transfer it to the cotton shirt. There will be a little bit of a film that comes off onto the shirt, but it will wash away with just one wash and leave you with a barely detectable “hand”.
4. Should I purchase an Epson or Sawgrass printer?
We love Epson the ink is not costly I recommend www.comos-ink.com. Sawgrass it is a little more expensive. The ink is also more costly. However, many issues people come across with printers that are not designed specifically for sublimation. Sawgrass you won't have that issue of troubleshooting.
5.What equipment will I need to go into the sublimation business.
If you are just starting out in sublimation the main equipment you will need is a good heat press, a sublimation printer, and a computer or tablet for designing. If you plan to add mugs and hats to your business, you will also need a mug press and a hat press. Smaller items you must have are often bundled with your printer or heat press. They include:
- heat transfer tape
- crafting besties sublimation paper
- cosmos ink
- adhesive spray for sublimation
- butcher paper
- Teflon sheets and pillows
- parchment paper
6. Do I need special tape for sublimation?
YES, you will need a special tape that can tolerate the high temperatures used in dye sublimation. Do not use Scotch Tape. Purchase your heat tape from your sublimation vendor. There really are no substitutes.
Why do you need tape to begin with? Tape is cheap compared to the price of your substrates. More often than not, you will need tape to hold your design in place for pressing.
7.Why do I need a lint roller for sublimation?
Sublimation is permanent. A lint roller will remove any tiny hairs or lint from your product prior to pressing. This is a necessary step because once the item has been pressed, any lint or hair that may have been present will leave little white spots when it finally does come away from the product.
Again, lint rollers are a very inexpensive investment that will save you from having to redo a product.
8. What is the best graphic design software for sublimation?
If you already have a graphic design software you are comfortable with, stick with it while you are just starting out. The learning curve associated with Photoshop and Corel Draw is huge. Both are amazing if you know how to use them, but if you are just starting out, I would recommend using what you know.
9. Why can’t I sublimate on dark colored garments?
It is not possible to sublimate on dark colored garments because there is no white sublimation ink.
Even pastel colored shirts will not produce perfect colors. As long as you are aware that white tees are the only ones that will result in true color prints, go ahead and experiment with the lighter colors. We often use a light heather gray shirt as an alternative to white.
The main rule to keep in mind is your shirt needs to be lighter than the graphic you are transferring. The darker the transfer, the better the turnout.
10. How much should I charge for custom sublimation items?
Much consideration must be given in order to decide the best price point for your custom sublimation products.
- Where are you selling your items?
- How much time have you put into the process?
- What is your competition?
You will probably be able to sell your items at a higher price point in venues where there is little or nothing to compare your work. If you are the only person selling custom sublimation items at a craft fair, for example, people will see what you have to offer and pay top dollar for it if it.
You definitely want to be competitive with your prices, but keep in mind that lowest price does not necessarily win out.
Social media with your own online store may be the best way to go. You can promote quality products at decent prices. People will buy from you because they know you. Just don’t over do it. No one likes to see you on Facebook when all you are doing is trying to sell them.
A basic formula for deciding on price is:
wholesale x 3 + labor and other expenses.
Some unique custom items can go for higher than said formula. Just do a little research, see what the going rate is, and adjust depending on your target market.