Wow..that's alot of mugs for sublimation. Have you thought about finding somebody who can do four color process printing on mugs such as a promotional products company? I've found in the past that once I get up over 50 or 100 items, I can usually outsource them cheaper since economies of scale don't help much with sublimation (similar as with DTG for larger volumes).
The cheapest I would probably go is $5.00 per mug. The most you can do is 15 to 20 mugs per hour on a single press which isn't a bad gross hourly rate. But that does not include the ink and time needed to print, trim & tape up 500 mugs. Granted, you can do some of that while you are waiting for the mug to bake so that won't be a huge factor.
You can probably find somebody for about half that price and not have to do any of the work..
i totally agree with you, John. i think i am going to just outsource it. i only have one press right now. i prol'y need 2 or 3 more machines if i decide to do it myself. i actually thought (if i do it)... $3.50 per mug cheapest.... (my cost is $1 mug/paper/ink all included...atleast according to my math)......i'll start with your $5 with this client and see what she says.
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