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I am new here and I am looking into getting in the business of making my own t-shirts. I am a avid freelance designer so I know about all the software like "Photoshop, Illustrator and etc." But what I don't know about is the equipment and such to make the shirts.

.:So what I am asking is:.
1) Do you think that Dye Sublimation would be the best way to go for a beginner like me.

2) What is the down sides of Dye Sublimation.

3) What equipment would I need to start.

I know Dye Sublimation requires a printer, heat press and knowledge of Software to make the design.

So all the help would be greatly apperciated!
 

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The designing and making shirts is the easy part of the process. The challenging aspect to all of this is marketing and selling your shirts. The day of creating a web site and people come flocking to it are long gone. Instead of worrying about how to make the shirt you should focus on how to sell the shirts. There is a very good saying in Business School 101 - Sell It Then Make It.

The smartest thing to do starting out is to focus all enrgy on selling product and contract out to someone who will make the shirt for you. You will not make as much per shirt but you will not spend $1,000's upfront. Figure out how many shirts you would need to sell per month to recover your investment if you were to produce the shirts yourself. Once you start getting close to that number it is time to figure out how to create products in-house.
 

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I agree with Mark. It would be better to outsource the production at the initial stage to someone who knows what they are doing :)
Dye sublimation, as any other printing method, has a steep learning curve. If you want your end-product to look professional and suitable for retail, you should be prepared to invest into good quality equipment and consumables. You should also be prepared to spend many days, weeks and months mastering the trade. There are probably hundreds of threads here on dye-sublimation trouble shooting and tricks on how to achieve a professional result. If you read some of them you'll get better idea of what's involved.

To answer your questions:

Dye sublimation is not the easiest printing method and not the cheapest one.

"Down-sides of dye sublimation" - you can not print on natural fabrics like cotton, silk, wool, bamboo. You will be limited to synthetic fabrics. The good news is - there are fabrics on the market that look and feel like cotton, but made of performance polyester, which is moisture-wicking and sublimation friendly.
If you are using ready-made t-shirts to print on, they must be light coloured. On brighter colours only very dark/black designs will stand out.
If you are planning to have dark t-shirts with sublimated design, they should be done by cut-and-sew process: white fabric cut into panels, printed with the design including dark background and then sewn together.

To set yourself up you will need printer with dye-sublimation ink and dye sublimation paper; heat press (which should be big enough to do the biggest designs you have in mind - i.e. with 15" x 15" platen you can't do all-over prints)and blank t-shirts. You would also need some accessories like Teflon sheets, foam incerts and a lint roller.
 

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Your selection of shirts is limited as compared to cottton.
While you can find some cool looking shirts to dye sub most of the time they are too dark to do unless you screen them.

Pressing requires some practice. Leaving paper lines is a big issue. Also leaving a shine on the shirt from the platen.

Color matching can be a ***** too sometimes. Or it could just be me. Probably me but its still a issue.

dye able shirts cost more than cotton type shirts.

Check out conde or johnson plastics. Both have good reps for support and both carry the Ricohs printers with the dye sub inks. They both carry other items you can sub too.

Unless you want to go big into the wide format printers then not sure if either of them sell the wide format printers. Might try Coastal Business for those printers. Good rep too.

With dye sub you can take a jpg/tiff/bmp for the most part and print and press it. Not as hard as setting up for a screen print or cutting to vinyl were it has to be a vector image.

Good luck
Mark
 
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