Traditional color laser, inkjet, and wax thermal transfer papers use heat to "melt" the image onto the surface of the t-shirt, resulting in a heavy, "decal-like" transfer that can fade, crack, or discolor and may only be washed under special conditions. Because SubliJet uses transfer inks and not special transfer paper, there's no "hand" or feel to the image. The garment is "tattooed" with the image and is as soft and comfortable as the material itself. To overview the process:
When heat and pressure are applied, two things happen: 1) The polyester fibers open, and 2) The sublimation inks turn to gas and seek out polyester. When heat and pressure are removed, the fibers close, trapping the ink inside. The result is a permanent, "no-hand" image.
How are transfer inks different from transfer papers?
Image transfers created with color laser printers/copiers, ink jet printers, or wax ribbon printers utilize a plastic coated sheet to melt toner or ink particles on the surface of a substrate. The result is a decal-like transfer that does not breathe and can peel, crack, or fade over time. SubliJet transfer inks use a chemical process called sublimation to transfer its ink into the surface of a substrate. This results in a tattoo-like transfer that breathes with the fabric, will not peel, crack, or fade, and lasts for many years.
What kind of paper is used for printing dye-sub transfers?
Because SubliJet utilizes heat activated sublimation inks, there is no special transfer paper required. For optimal transfer quality SubliJet inks need to be used with standard, high-quality ink jet paper. Sawgrass recommends several high quality ink jet papers that are available through your Authorized SubliJet Reseller.
How are transfer inks different from traditional screenprint inks?
Traditional plastisol inks have been used in apparel decorating for decades. They generally offer a near permanent image in multiple or full-color process. One limitation of traditional screenprint inks is that they require film output, press set-up, screens, dryers, and clean up. This limitation makes production of short-run, customized goods impractical.
Because SubliJet transfer inks are digitally printed using a computer and an ink jet printer, there is no costly pre press, set-up, screens, or clean up. A simple heat press is all that's needed to create vibrant, multi-color or full-color images in runs of one or one-hundred.
What do I need to get started?
To start printing Soft L'ink t-shirts, you will need a SubliJet ink cartridge set, a compatible ink jet printer, PC or Mac based computer, graphic design software, and a heat transfer press. The addition of a color scanner or digital camera lets you create transfers from photos or other full-color artwork. Our network of Authorized SubliJet Resellers can assist you in selecting a system designed for your needs.
What printers can be used for this unique printing process?
SubliJet inks support many popular desktop EPSON ink jet printers. These printers offer entry-level to moderate users an affordable and flexible transfer solution. For higher production levels, Sawgrass resellers provide complete print systems utilizing large format, high-capacity ink jet printers. Please contact your Authorized SubliJet Reseller for details.
How do you create images on the Soft L'ink t-shirt?
SubliJet inks offer a patented ink transfer process that uses time, temperature, and pressure to permanently dye the micro-polyester surface of the shirt. Using standard graphic design software and your choice of clip art, scanned images, or computer created artwork, simply print your image to your ink jet printer onto paper using SubliJet inks. Using a heat press, apply the paper transfer to the t-shirt and enjoy the results!
How much does it cost to produce a Soft L'ink t-shirt?
Less than you think! The total cost for a Soft L'ink t-shirt decorated with a 12" x 12" SubliJet ink transfer is as low as $5.40 using higher capacity printers. The Soft L'ink t-shirt wholesales for about $4.60, and a SubliJet transfer is as low as $0.80 per square foot based on full-coverage for production-oriented printer models.
For users operating desktop ink jet printers, the total cost for a Soft L'ink t-shirt decorated with a 10" by 10" SubliJet ink transfer is as low as $6.00. Again, the Soft L'ink t-shirt wholesales for about $4.60, and a SubliJet transfer is about $1.25 for a 10" by 10" based on full-coverage.
What is the market price for a short-run, customized t-shirt?
People are willing to pay a premium price to have their name, favorite photo, design or logo custom-imprinted on a cotton-based T-shirt. The U.S. market price for a customized short-run T-shirt with photo quality image ranges from $12.99 to $29.99.
Where can I buy SubliJet transfer inks?
Sawgrass resellers provide SubliJet digital transfer inks, training, support, and service to you. Each specializes in sublimation transfer systems and can offer supporting products including heat press equipment, printers, inks, paper, and a broad range of sublimation-ready products. For an authorized SubliJet Reseller in your area, visit www.sublimation.com or call 843-884-1575.
What else can I create with SubliJet inks?
In addition to fantastic t-shirts, SubliJet inks can produce mouse pads, mugs, awards plaques, ceramic gifts, clocks, and more! For additional information on the broad range of sublimation ready products that are available, please contact your Authorized SubliJet Reseller.
What are the limitations of SubliJet?
SubliJet inks transfer well to light colored, synthetic surfaces such as polyester and acrylic. They do not transfer to natural surfaces such as cotton, or dark colored surfaces. Over long periods of time, SubliJet inks may exhibit some color fading when exposed to direct sunlight and are not recommended for long-term outdoor use.
Where can I buy Soft L'ink products?
Hanes Printables has selected a specialized group of distributors to offer Soft L'ink products. Soft L'ink® fabric can be purchased from Fisher Textiles, telephone 1-800-554-8886. Click here for a complete listing.
Why do my customers get little fuzzy balls on their Soft L'ink shirts after they have been laundered?
If you look at polyester under a microscope, you'll see tiny "hooks" on the outside of the fiber. During the wash cycle, cotton naturally breaks loose and floats around. If the cotton comes into contact with the polyester hooks, it sticks to the fabric surface and forms little balls called "pills."
Pilling is most common on sweatshirts, which are often made from blended 50/50 polyester/cotton fabric. With Soft L'ink pilling is generally not a problem, since one surface is completely micro-polyester and the other side cotton. (The fabric isn't "blended" so there's less chance that loose cotton will come into contact with the polyester side.) However, if the shirt is washed with other fuzzy or high-cotton products, the loose cotton will cause pilling problems. Soft L'ink products should be washed in cold water, inside-out, with like colors.
How Can I Learn More About SubliJet?
Please visit www.sublimation.com or call Sawgrass Systems at 1-843-884-1575.
Is there a way to reduce pressmarks on finished sublimated apparel?
A Teflon sublimation pillow will help to reduce the pressmarks: Place the pillow under the shirt and press with medium pressure keeping in mind that it needs to be compressed, but not completely flattened. The pillows are available in various sizes and can be found on TR Distributors website www.trdistributors.net. If hand made, use either ½" or ¾" foam sandwiched and stitched between two Teflon sheets. The foam can be found at your local sewing or arts and crafts store.