Whether you are just starting in dye-sublimation printing, or you are a seasoned veteran, we have some quick tips for sublimation printing to help improve your dye-sublimation printing success! Get started, and improve your prints now!
Table of contents
1. Finding the Right Equipment
One reason that Dye-Sublimation Printing is an attractive opportunity since it’s so easy and quick to get setup. In order to start, all you need is a sublimation capable printer, sublimation ink, high quality sublimation paper, and your desired substrate (like a T-Shirt, or a pair of socks)! Finding the right equipment is of the up-most importance!
UPDATE: Note that this section was written in 2019. As of 2022, this section is wildly out of date – see our tip number 7 below! We no longer recommend using the Epson WF-7710 and strongly recommend using the lower priced Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500 and genuine Sawgrass ink.
If you are just getting started out, I can’t recommend the Epson WF-7710 more. The WF-7710 is a great all-around printer, with high quality prints, a low entry price, and an easy set-up process to get started right away! All you need to get in order to get started with the Epson WF-7710 right away is to get the sublimation conversion set to start using dye-sublimation ink.
If you are a little further with your dye-sublimation journey, I’d recommend going with a Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500. which is a high quality, sublimation printer. This printer is much easier to set-up and get started with, however it comes at a much steeper price. You can’t go wrong with either of these printers!
NOTE: If you end up going with the Epson WF-7710, you’ll need to get a sublimation conversion kit in order to print using sublimation ink.
UPDATE: Note that as of 2022 we recommend using only genuine Sawgrass ink with Sawgrass printers.
When it comes to Sublimation Ink, there are a ton of options to choose from. No matter what ink you end up going with, you can always make it work with your needs. Either way, my recommendation is the Printers Jack Sublimation Ink. This kit comes straight from Amazon, which means you’ll always have a quick and easy to find resource for re-supplying your ink needs without having to stress. The ink works well with many different sublimation profiles.
NOTE: No matter what sublimation ink you choose, we highly recommend that you dial in your ink profile to match your printer and ink combination. This will always ensure the highest quality prints!
Now this one is difficult to come up with recommendations. There aren’t a ton of ultra established brands when it comes to heat-presses, and many of them come from a manufacturing company located in China. There are some key differences between the different styles of heat presses, like clam shell or swing-away presses. We recommend choosing the one that most fits your needs, especially when it comes to the heat press bed size, and the enclosure method.
If you are just getting started, you can check out this Swing-Away 12″ X 10″ Heat Press from Amazon. A decent option, with a nice sized bed that can fit different needs! Make sure to double check your needs when choosing your heat press.
An upgraded option, with very reasonable prices, is the product range from Tusy.
2. Getting the best Accesories
While the items listed above are definitely the necessity, but there are a ton of accessories that can really help you out with dye-sublimation printing!
- Heat Gloves – helps to protect your hands from the heat generated by your heat-press
- Thermal Tape + Tape Dispenser – helps keep your sublimation transfers from moving during your press
- Teflon Sheet – protects your heat bed from taking too much ink or damage from pressing
- Silicon Sheet – alternative option to a teflon sheet
- Heat Transfer Pillow – helps to prevent transfer creases from paper
3. Stocking up on the necessities
What’s the worse possible thing that can happen to your dye-sublimation printing business? Not being able to sell or fulfill your orders. That’s why managing a good amount of stock can be beneficial.
Managing you stock is a difficult and confusing process. You don’t want to hold to much inventory, else you’ll be wasting space on unused inventory, over spending on your inventory, and spreading yourself thin on managing your inventory. But you also don’t want too little inventory, else you’ll be running out of products, unable to fulfill orders, or even forcing yourself into halting sales. If you aren’t selling, you aren’t making money!
Check out this article on Inventory Management 101 to get a basic idea on how to approach inventory management and to make sure you are always on top of your inventory!
4. Get familiar with your software
If you aren’t able to quickly, efficiently, and effectively produce images and designs for your sublimation business, then you’ll be wasting time on your designs! Managing your money and time is essential to having success with dye-sublimation, and if you overspend your time on the design process, you are mismanaging you time.
Being efficient in your design process means that you need to be constantly improving with your software of choice. Whether you are using Adobe CC, Photoshop, GIMP, or any other photo-editing software, you need to make sure to be able to quickly make beautiful designs. I recommend checking out various Youtube Channels that feature tutorials on your software of choice. That way, you’ll always be on top of your game!
NOTE: Always remember, done is better than perfect!
5. Learn the industry
Beginning in Dye-Sublimation Printing by yourself is difficult, but is by no means impossible. But it always helps to get to know others in the industry, so that you can share your experiences and tips-and-tricks to improve!
To get started with exposure to other people in the industry, you can’t go wrong with Youtube! There are plenty of Youtube channels dedicated to dye-sublimation printing, and you can start watching them right now! I personally recommend checking out Debbie Does Design and Coastal Business, but don’t shy away from checking out other channels!
It’s also super valuable to start attending different networking events. These can be more difficult for some people to attend, since they are often hosted in different cities and have a cost to attend. However, if you have the means to travel to the host city, and to put up the cost of a ticket, then there is a ton of value to you in attending these networking events. There are often suppliers, and other small-business owners that can help you by sharing knowledge and tips-and-tricks with other dye-sublimation professionals.
6. Never Stop Learning and testing
By far and away the most important thing is to always strive to get better! Get better with managing your inventory, or expanding your client base. Whether it’s improving your design flow, or expanding your offering of substrates. It’s always important to keep trying to get better and gain more knowledge. That way, you’ll always be on the top of your game!
You also need to keep testing to improve your processes and results. Whether it be experimenting with your combination of heat, pressure, or moisture, or it be expanding into new niches and products! Stagnation is the enemy of all small businesses, and it’s one of the few things that you have total, 100% control over. Never keep trying new things!
We hope these tips for sublimation printing can help you start your journey into the dye-sublimation business! Remember, always try new things and never shy away from trying new things and meeting new people in the industry. It also doesn’t hurt to have the best possible equipment for your needs as well as the accessories to make your process fast and easy!
7. Keep up with New Technology in Equipment
This article was originally written in 2019. It’s now 2022, and as this article is being updated, nearly all of the original information about printers and ink is obsolete! We have included current information (as of February, 2022) in the article above, where appropriate. Although tip number 7 may be last on our list, it may need to be number one in the minds of dye sublimation business owners!
Check out our product reviews here and read more about dye-sublimation printing here.