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Basics of a Sublimation Printing Business

Basics of a Sublimation Printing Business

Apr 7th 2023

Have you heard of sublimation printing? A lot of people outside the garment decoration industry may not be familiar with the term, but it's quickly becoming an essential part of how people approach making things like custom clothing and drinkware. Essentially, this process allows you to print images, then directly transfer them onto polyester fabrics (or anything that has a poly coating and can withstand the heat needed for application) with a heat press or sublimation oven, creating vibrant and long-lasting designs. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the process of sublimation printing and what you need to know.

What is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a digital printing technique that uses heat to transfer dye onto polyester based materials. It's a great way to apply vivid, full-color designs with a professional finish that won't crack, fade or peel. When you need a design to last as long as the object that its applied to- whether it be banners, posters, uniforms, custom t-shirts, or drinkware- sublimation printing offers an eye-catching solution.

Through this process, the dye is sublimated (or turned into a gas) and then bonded to material that it is applied to, creating a permanent image with bold colors and a soft feel. This method results in images with true-to-life hues without creating a difference in the feel of the fabric it's applied to. Not only that, but it also makes the colors permanent and long-lasting, ensuring a strong visual impact.

Benefits of Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing offers some advantages for businesses in terms of cost, efficiency, and quality. It can be used for high volume projects, which makes it a great choice for printing large quantities of high-quality materials quickly and affordably. Not only does it provide stunning results at cost-efficient prices, but it can also save time- with sublimation, there is no need for weeding, and the only cutting you'll need to worry about is trimming the excess from your print so you can apply it effectively.

Sublimation printing also offers unrivaled ability when it comes to customization and color accuracy, allowing for the creation of intricate designs (or even reproductions of full color photos)!

Sublimation Printing Requirements

Much like starting a business by going the Heat Transfer Vinyl route, starting your own custom sublimation business doesn't require a great deal of startup cost. However, there are several key items that you will need before you jump into making and selling your brand. Here are the things you'll need:

Sublimation Printer (and Sublimation Paper)


For one, you'll need a method of actually printing the sublimation transfers you will be using. While it is possible to convert an Epson printer to be used to sublimation, we recommend purchasing a dedicated sublimation printer designed for the purpose like the Sawgrass SG500 or SG1000. These models not only provide excellent print quality and reliability, when they're purchased through our website, they also come with support to help get your printer set up initially, as well as lifetime tech support if an issue does arise. You will also need the appropriate paper for your sublimation printer. Our WALASub Sublimation Paper is a great choice that provides high speed output, high quality prints, and a good value for your money.

Heat Press or Sublimation Oven


The application part of the sublimation process requires heat and pressure, so you'll need something that can apply adequate amounts of both. There are essentially two options at this juncture. One method is to buy a heat press for your application. They come in many varieties, so you'll want to consider what will be the focus of your business- if you want to make clothing, you might consider something like our WALAPress 15x15 Clamshell heat press. If you're more interested in drinkware, a better choice would be our WALAPress Elite Pro Tumbler heat press.

The second method for achieving the appropriate heat and pressure is to use a sublimation oven like our WALAOven for Sublimation. This method is suitable for hard surface sublimation (like drinkware or photo panels) and uses Shrink Sleeve material to apply even pressure and hold the design in place during sublimation. It takes a bit longer to sublimate designs via this method, but you can sublimate more than one item at a time (depending on the size of the items), so it's a matter of personal preference.



Other than the things mentioned above, the last major thing you'll need to create your sublimation business is a supply of clothing or sublimation blanks. Here, you can really run wild, as there is a huge selection of both for you to choose from. From pot holders to mugs to hardboard earrings, there's no shortage of items for you to apply your own panache to! As a final note, you will probably also want some Thermo Tape to hold your designs in place when you are pressing them or putting them in your sublimation oven. After that, you have the basics to kick off your sublimation business with style!

To Conclude

Sublimation printing offers an array of benefits, including vibrant prints that are long lasting and durable. Plus, it’s fast and cost-effective. With sublimation printing, you can produce custom prints quickly and with great accuracy, which makes it worthy of some serious consideration for anyone thinking of starting their own custom transfer business. With the added benefit of its low startup cost and the simplicity with which a person can make transfers, sublimation printing offers an appealing route for the aspiring entrepreneur, and may just be the way of the future for custom garment decoration.