Contributing Author: Dennis M. Matl
Many times we are told that the path to success is through failure, that we cannot really learn unless we have hit a few bumps in the road. I think this applies perfectly to our business of sublimation.
In its basic form the process is always the same. Design-Print-Press. But it takes a lot of practice to get to the point where this is the process and it’s repeatable. Even with the great guidelines provided to us by our vendors and fellow dye subbers we have to learn by doing.
I ordered a large sampling of dye sub products when I purchased my equipment. It was a broad spectrum across the dye sub spectrum; shirts to mugs, aluminum to MDF, and tiles to mouse pads. Each product came with great instructions. And I was batting 100% for the first eight or ten pieces that I produced; a couple awesome mugs, some mouse pads, and even a photo slate. They were perfect each time.
Then I got my first order, just two mugs. I followed the steps. Design, Print, Press. And the first mug looked like poop. Dull, a little color bleed, just not good. So, I pressed the next one. More poop. OK. We have a problem. I double-checked my setting. Temp is good. Pressure is good. I printed two more sheets. The output looked good. Double double-checked my time, temp and pressure settings. Pressed the third mug. Garbage. What was I missing?
It was a simple mistake. I was forgetting the protective paper. I had used it to set up my mug press pressure and left it with my setup mug. On the fourth (and fifth) mugs I remembered the protective paper and they came out great. So, lesson learned. And now I keep a sticky note on the mug press to remind me to not make this mistake again.