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Hello there,

I am new to this forum, so if this has been answered many times before, please point me in the right direction.

I am thinking of starting a small business creating personalized items. If anyone could help me answer these questions, I'd be most grateful.

1. How much space will I need? Will a room around 200 square feet (18-20 m2) be enough for a simple setup of 1 printer, 1 heat press and perhaps a mug press?

2. Which equipment will give me the biggest bang for my buck? Should I go for an expensive printer like Sawgrass Virtuoso SG800 and Geo Knight/Stahls Hotronix heat press, or is there similar quality items for less money? I want good, reliable equipment, I dont mind paying more for it.

Also, are combo heat presses any good, or not recommended?

3. Any tips for starting this kind of business that would have helped YOU in the beginning?

Thank you so much.

A
 

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I took a stab at sublimation and went the cheap epson printer route. I think the sawgrass printers are probably way better but you will want a large format and the costs go through the roof so if this is experimental like mine was that's a big leap. I paid a couple hundred for an epson 7610 that will do 13"x 19". The sawgrass style ink can sit for long periods without clogging and I would bet they produce a little better colors especially on navy blue type items. I always struggled getting deep rich darks and tend to think it might be better on a sawgrass. Sublimation did not fit my business model and I really didn't do much. I paid off the printer but then it sat long enough the head clogged and it's a nearly new piece of garage art now.

As far as press equipment you will want a good press because sublimation varies a LOT with temperature and time changes and the cheaper ones will likely heat unevenly. You will want a swing press that will let you do objects like dog tags and other nifty items that are thicker than a clam can adjust to. Stay clear away from the multi-presses even if you aren't sublimating. They are a gimmick and the hat, plate or mug press part is not going to get you there and the regular press gets screwed up in the process.

My overall experience is that Sublimation work is a great add-on to an existing business but probably not one that will subsist on it's own. If you have a brick and mortar location with walk-in customers I think you could make bank on all sorts of cool items like mugs, dog tags, key chains, lanyards etc...that you could whip out while they are standing there. Internet traffic may work, some have success but things go so cheap. I tried mostly for the t-shirt angle and some softball uniforms but you are stuck with white 100% polyester shirts and I couldn't sell them.
 
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