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Discussion Starter #1
Ok. I currently Silk Screen Shirts and Plastisol Heat Transfer Shirts. However, If I am considering opening up to Sublimation Heat Transfer to be able to make 1-5 shirts.

If I do this, I am wondering a few things.

How is the quality compared to plastisol heat transfer?

How is the quality in general?

Can I only print these on 50/50 blend shirts?

Can I only print these on white colored shirts?

Can I use my HP Photosmart printer or do I have to invest in an Epson?

Where can I buy the Ink for cheap?

Where can I buy the paper for cheap?

What is the average cost to make a shirt this way?

Thank you so much in advance!
 

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How is the quality compared to plastisol heat transfer?
The quality should be superior, as it actually dyes the fabric thus leaving no hand, and no real ability to wash out.

How is the quality in general?
Good, but you are limited to what you can print on, 100% poly if you don't want a grunge type look, otherwise you have to get something like Vapor Apparel or Hane's Sof'link (which is no longer being produced).

Can I only print these on 50/50 blend shirts?
50/50 will give you a grunge/washed out look, since half the fibers will lose their ink. 100% polyester is best if you aren't going for this look.

Can I only print these on white colored shirts?
You can print them on some pastels, but your color is limited to only being as bright as your shirt, the darker you get, the more you lose detail due to the blending of the darker color of the garment.

Can I use my HP Photosmart printer or do I have to invest in an Epson?
Epsons are the ones most commonly modified and I don't believe Sawgrass produces anything for non-epson based printers.

Where can I buy the Ink for cheap?
Unfortunately, I doubt you can, Sawgrass holds the patent on the ink, so they determine what the price is. I've read of some smaller companies, but usually they get consumed by Sawgrass, or ran out of business. Coastal offers free shipping after a certain amount, and forum members get a 5% discount code in the Exclusive discount thread, this is probably the best you'll be able to do.

Where can I buy the paper for cheap?
I get ImageRight from Coastal, it's $17.32 for a 100 pack of 8.5x11, then yo uuse the 5% discount.

What is the average cost to make a shirt this way?
I've estimated about:
~$6 for the shirt (Vapor)
~$1 for the ink+paper (ink estimate is based on bulk feed, not cartridge)
Then you got the cost of doing business/runnin the press/etc, but raw material you'd be looking at around $7.

Companies that I suggest doing business with:

CoastalBusiness - Usually has the best price IMO (and free shipping, and 5% off!), and had nothing but great customer service, although they're limited on sublimation products (don't think they carry t-shirts for example).

Johnson Plastics - Wide variety, crappy website though, but they also offer custom cut metal and FRP for sublimation.

Conde - Has the widest variety of sublimatables and good customer service.
 

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I have been doing sublimation for about 8 years.. Joe has provided excellent answers and is right on point.
For DaisyK...it is not legal to buy dye sub ink overseas and bring in...you are in technical violation of existing patent I think...but even more import is you have to have the correct ICC profile for your ink/printer and the chines ink does not come with info on the ICC profile (not sure what ICC profile is...google it..too long to post)
Right now there are only three dye sub inks that are proven...they are Sublijet and Artainium in the USA and they are both owned by Sawgrass. In Europe there is alos Rotech...and Sawgrass bought them out in 2005. There was a company in Texas...Texas Original Graphics that made a good dye sub ink called sublibrite and after a protracted lawsuit with Sawgrass...sold the company to Sawgrass

All the above does NOT apply to wide format printers...you can buy bulk ink for large format..44 inch and above...much, much cheaper. And you can buy in the US but I have been told you have to give your printers serial number to purchase... that is what I have been told...have never tried it.. I just use my 1400 and artainium bulk system....and charge accordingly
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I definetly want to do Dye Sublimation. I just feel it may be a little pricey. Sounds like it may cost me:

$300 for the Epson 1400
$100 for each color of dye X 5 colors?
$600 for a new heat press
$100 for sublimation paper
$5.00 per white polyester shirt

are these numbers right? or am i getting my research screwed up?

where do you guys buy your blank shirts, new ink, and sublimation paper?

also can i print on 50/50 shirts or does it have to be the polyester shirts? and what about dark garments. are they out of the picture when it comes to dye sublimation?
 

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Thanks for the information. If you bought the ink and paper from the same vendor, they definitely can offer ICC profile or you can pay for some one to do it for around $20 to $30 per type of paper. However, if it involves with legal and patent issues, then I don't think I will take the risk to do it.
The dye sub ink is just too expensive.
 

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Dan...your numbers are a bit off....there are 6 colors in the 1400 ..not 5; the paper is about $15 for 100 sheets...; the ink carts are 78 or 85...depending on whether you get artainium or sublijet.. Shirts are closer to $6-$6.50

go to Nova Chrome they have a price list which is pretty typical...I also use Johnson Plastics as they have several offices nationwide
 

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Dan, you will get the best results on 100% polyester shirts. Dye sublimation inks do not bond with cotton fibers, so you will have only 50% of your image transferred. If you want to achieve washed-out/vintage look you may get away with blends, but if you are after crisp and vibrant designs or photographic quality prints - stick with 100% polyester. There were 50/50% t-shirts on the market called SoftLink with cotton inside and polyester shell outside but they are not manufactured anymore.
With regards to dark shirts - dye sublimation is essentially just that, DYEING a design into the fabric. You can not dye dark fabrics into a lighter colour. Best results you will get on white and light fabrics, on darker shirts only very dark graphics will come through - i.e. black print on a red shirt.
 

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Hi Dan. First off, you have to accept that sublimation printing is not a cheap process. That is especially so when it used used for garment decoration. Its biggest downside however, is that it limits you to using polyester tees. Whatever people might suggest to the contrary, the reality is that most people prefer cotton tees over polyester.

Sublimation can print outstanding, colourful and vibrant images, but to make that worthwhile, you need to utilise good designs, that really make the most of the process.
 

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I do sublimation printing and get a great print using the following.

Epson C88+ printer $69.99
Chromablast paper $75.00 / 100 sheets
Epson Durabrite Ultra Ink $45.99 / 4 colors

8x10 print price runs about
$1.25 - $1.75 (ink and paper)

I have done wash & dry test on several garments and still get no fading after 10-15 washes.

I find the prints look great and reasonable.

Have a great day!
 

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I do sublimation printing and get a great print using the following.

Epson C88+ printer $69.99
Chromablast paper $75.00 / 100 sheets
Epson Durabrite Ultra Ink $45.99 / 4 colors

8x10 print price runs about
$1.25 - $1.75 (ink and paper)

I have done wash & dry test on several garments and still get no fading after 10-15 washes.

I find the prints look great and reasonable.

Have a great day!
Wait, I thought Chromablast technique is not a sublimation...:confused:
 

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I do sublimation printing and get a great print using the following.
Sorry Robin, but that isn't a sublimation system. Chromablast is a polymer type transfer paper that bonds with the surface of the garment.

With sublimation, the specialist sublimation ink is drawn into the fabric itself, the chemical reaction that takes place is a permanent bonding within the polyester fibres.

You will find one of the threads I started at the link below. It explains what the Chromablast system is and has lots of example pictures on there.

http://www.t-shirtforums.com/dye-sublimation/t57252.html

Someone on there has been using Claria type ink with Chromablast, but if you have any photos of tees done with Durabrite, feel free to post them on that thread. We are always happy to share new methods with people using this site. :)
 

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Well sublimation or not the print is embedded into the fibers after pressing and there is absolutely NO hand on the print and this is what my customers prefer.

I thought sublimation was the print embedded in to the fibers and looks as if it was made into the fabric.

Do I have all my wires crossed?

Someone help me understand this!
PLEASE!!

Thanks,
 

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Hi Robin. I know it all gets confusing at times, so I'll try to clarify.

There is only sublimation ink, that has the physical capabilities to undertake a chemical change when heat and pressure is applied to it and permeate into the fabric itself. It effectively dyes the fabric at molecular level, which is why sublimation ink is so expensive.

Durabrite is a regular pigment ink, it is incapable of undergoing that chemical process. Having said that, some people have had reasonable success with using Durabrite in direct to garment printers and I myself have proved that it does not wash out of garments.

Chromablast paper has a polymer base which also transfers over to the cotton garment when put in a heat press. With sublimation it is only the ink that transfers.

Its great that you are getting good results with the method that you are using, but you have to ensure that you don't call it a sublimated garment in any literature you use, as that would be misleading customers.

If you want to share any example pictures on either this thread, or the Chromablast thread, I am sure you will find lots of people that will give you valuable advice.

Hope this helps. :)
 

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Hi Dan. First off, you have to accept that sublimation printing is not a cheap process. That is especially so when it used used for garment decoration. Its biggest downside however, is that it limits you to using polyester tees. Whatever people might suggest to the contrary, the reality is that most people prefer cotton tees over polyester.

Sublimation can print outstanding, colourful and vibrant images, but to make that worthwhile, you need to utilise good designs, that really make the most of the process.
This is true. I personally prefer cotton over poly even the vapor poly that feels like cotton, a bit. I think the poly will keep getting better and better, though.

The problem is the price points. Cotton is alot cheaper and alot of people are not willing to pay the price difference. They really don't care if it's dyed into the fabric or applied. You have to find a nich of people who are atheletic, or sweat a lot, live in a hot/ humid climate, or all of the above and really like the moisture wicking properties. Runners, cyclist, volleyball teams, etc. We use it alot for a Navy Base store and there is a good demand for it there. Just consider your demographics, etc.

Now the coolest thing about sublimation is all the other products you can make as well. That makes it worth it for me. I still utilize screenprinting, vinyl and sublimation for tees but I can do a bunch of other things like mugs, car flags, koozies and that adds to my business. I just wish I could get the sublimation blanks cheaper.
 
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