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Beginning Your Sublimation Education

Beginning Your Sublimation Education
Beginning your Sublimation Education? Get started with the information basics, perfect for the Sublimation Beginner or one who is restarting their business venture.

Beginning Your Sublimation Education

Every product produced by the dye sublimation process presents unique opportunities for learning. Glass and ceramics take a long time to “cook” and must be protected from cracking under pressure. Wood items tend to warp and need to be heated on both sides evenly or weighted after heating. Fabric items transfer very quickly and need to be puffed up with pillows on the seams. Mugs and other drinkware require dyewraps or shrinkwraps and are produced in ovens or in mug press. Some can be imaged fully and some have a limited image area. All of the varying differences lead to skill sets that need to be developed by the operator. We recommend you keep a binder or a notebook to gather the notes and tricks you learn as you master each type of substrate.

Nearly every item we sell has a video of the process used. These videos can be found on the Condé product pages and on CondeTV. You will need a graphics software, like Corel or PhotoShop to recreate what is taught in the videos.

Recommended Test Kits and Accessories

Test kits, spare substrates and other accessories facilitate the learning process and make-up for mess-ups and help you to calibrate your system prior to large runs. Here are a few suggestions for starting out, all of which can be found on our website:

- Condé entry and advanced starter kits
- Unisub test kit
- Vapor fabric swatches
- Contact pyrometer to test the temperature of your oven or press
- Vapor Foam Kit with Teflon Sheet
- Heat Conductive Rubber Pads, one of each thickness (1/8” and 1/16”)
- A Nomex Pad
- Heat resistant Tape
- Pro Spray temporary adhesive
- Shrink Wraps or DyeWraps for drinkware
- A Cooling Plate, fan or cold concrete area to cool ceramics

Dye Sublimation Process Defined

A dye sublimation transfer is a process where a digital image is printed to particular types of ink jet printers using special inks and paper, then transferred onto an array of hard and soft substrates through a heat transfer process. This type of heat transfer converts the ink into a gas that allows it to migrate into the substrate as it cools back into a solid. Generally speaking, all sublimation substrates must be white or light in color and be surfaced with a special polymer coating for hard substrates, or constructed of synthetic fibers, primarily 100% polyester, to be compatible with the sublimation process.

Dye Sublimation Ink

The ink used in the sublimation transfer process is a special mixture of water and heat reactive dyes. For professional results every time, we exclusively recommend, sell and support Sawgrass® and specific Epson® sublimation inks. These inks are intended for use in certain printers including those from Sawgrass, Ricoh, Epson and Mutoh.

To find the right ink for your printer visit the Ink & Toner tab on the main menu of our website.

Sublimation Printers

The ink jet dye sublimation printers we use are meant to produce outputs designed to be transferred onto a wide array of substrates via an external heat source. Because of the type of ink that is used, there is a limitation to the type of printer that will accommodate these custom pigment-based inks. Piezo® print heads are the most conducive to this technology. Sawgrass has worked many years to create the current SG500 and SG1000 sublimation printers, with optimized inks and color profiles.

You can find a cheap Epson printer and convert it to dye sublimation, simply using syringes and funnels to fill the inks. This may be a cheap alternative, however it is also time intensive, messy and does not have much support for technical difficulties. This is why we exclusively support Sawgrass and their easy solutions. You have the ability to start your business the very day your printer arrives!

Condé Systems also offers sublimation solutions for wide format printers. Contact our wide format division to learn more.

Printer Color Profiles

Remember, you are using a desktop printer that was originally intended to make black ink documents for an office. For sublimation, it is necessary for every dye sublimation printer to use special color profile software that controls the amount of ink in every drop.

Conde Systems Tech Support will help you get your printer set up and ready to use. These profiles allow you to custom configure your print job by brand of paper and type of substrate. As always, you may contact Condé Systems Tech Support for questions and answers about profiles. Furthermore, there are detailed installation instructions on the technical support section of our website.

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