Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Dye sublimation printing fills a market gap for short-run printing of mugs, shirts, gift items and promotional goods. A release liner printed with sublimation dyes is sandwiched between a heat press and the item to be printed. The heat causes the dyes to turn into a gas, and pressure helps to transfer the image onto the item.
Before the development of modified computer printers using sublimation dyes and toners in the mid-1980s, sublimation transfers were done on commercial printing presses. Because of the expense, it was not cost-effective to print small quantities. Desk-top sublimation printers now allow companies and individuals to print as little as one transfer, at low cost, opening up a new market segment for personalized items.
Getting into the sublimation business is easier and cheaper than ever. A computer with a graphic design program, photo scanner, sublimation printer and a heat press are all the newcomer needs. Supplies include transfer paper, extra sublimation ink or toner, and a few product samples to show prospective clients. An increase in supply companies allows larger orders to be delivered in days, eliminating the need to stock large amounts of product.
The sublimation process is limited to printing on certain synthetic surfaces, called substrates. Fabrics must have a high polyester content, and hard goods require a special polymer surface. Because of the translucent nature of sublimation dyes, goods should be white in color. (Certain pastel T-shirts will work, although the imprint color may be altered.)
With the popularity of sublimation on the rise, manufacturers have risen to the task of developing new sublimation-friendly supplies. While 100 percent polyester shirts used to be a rarity, they are now available from most large supply houses. Aside from the time-tested coffee mug, newer items include: Neck ties, aprons, magnets, ornaments, decorative plaques, lighters, picture frames, ID tags, flags, banners, key fobs, and a host of other items--all treated or manufactured to accept sublimation.
Sublimation has been used on an industrial scale for some time now, mainly for the decoration of bulk fabric to be sewn into clothing, tablecloths, curtains and bed linens. The ability of sublimation to print complex multicolor designs easily and cheaply has made it a preferred fabric-decorating method for specialty designs and products in instances in which large quantities (and the associated high printing costs) are not desired.
Sales and Marketing Ideas
While sublimation printers are limited to products, the ways to market and sell are limited only by the printer's imagination. Fundraisers, events, corporate gifts, premiums and incentives, mall kiosks, carnival, fair and flea market booths, Internet and mail order, and adding-on to an existing business are a few of the successful outlets for printers. Customers include schools, sport teams, general businesses, museums, restaurants, hospitals and almost any other concern where users would appreciate or benefit from personalized items.