Starting a sublimation business is one of the easiest and most economical start-ups in the digital decorating industry.
- Sublimation compatible printer You must have a dedicated sublimation printer that is compatible with the available cartridges. Currently, these include Sawgrass Virtuoso, Ricoh & Epson small format printers and a wide variety of large format printers.
- Sublimation inks
Sublimation inks aren't quite the same as standard inkjet ink - they are available in the usual cartridge form, or in some cases, bulk ink liters. Sublimation ink must be heat activated for the colors to fully brighten and transfer into the item due to the chemical make-up of the ink. Because it is different from standard inkjet ink, however, you must use a specialized printer driver, software, or color profile embedded within the document for correct output. This is something that only the manufacturer of the ink can develop and provide for you, which is why it is important to buy dye-sublimation ink from a quality supplier.
- Sublimation paper
Sublimation paper is necessary for the ink to transfer onto the substrates; it is designed to release as much as the printed image as possible from the sheet. We offer an all-purpose sublimation paper (Image Right), a paper created specifically for use with Ricoh printers (Image Right R) and rolls of wide-format sublimation paper (TexPrint XP for hard surfaces and TexPrint Tacky for garments and fabrics).
- Heat press or silicone press wraps Since sublimation requires such a high level of temperature and pressure, you must use either a heat press to press the item or a silicone wrap within a conventional oven to press the item. A commercial heat press will be the most efficient way of sublimating most of our items, but some items with a unique shape such as the pet bowls and shot glasses must be sublimated using a wrap in a conventional oven.
- Color correction software or color profile Since sublimation ink is not the same as the intended inkjet ink for the printers it often runs through some form of correction for the color differences that are needed. Artainium users must install and use an ICC color profile that is used with a design program that is able to manage color settings, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or CorelDraw.
SubliJet inks can be used with a software called the PowerDriver that is very easy to install and use. The PowerDriver acts the same as a printer driver and can be used to print from any program as usual. Unfortunately, the PowerDriver software is not Mac compatible, but there are ICC profiles available for Mac computers to use with the above design program.
- Sublimation blanks Sublimation blanks are items that are specifically coated to receive the inks. You can also transfer onto 100% white polyester fabric or fabric-topped items. You cannot sublimate onto cotton or dark fabrics -- colored garments can be sublimated onto, but bear in mind that since the ink is slightly transparent, your transfer/image will take on the shade of the shirt color below it, and may result in a poor result. There are sprays on the market designed for home users to coat their own items to be sublimated upon, but in our testings, we have not found the results to be consistent in coverage or durability.