The Basics - The Process - The Possibilities
Note: This is the first page
of your guided tour. The link to the next page, and previous page is always
at the bottom.
There is no single color,
imprinting method that will print text (especially with names) and single color
graphics, on metal plates and many textiles, faster or more economically than
dye sublimation toner cartridges, in an ordinary desktop laser printer, using
plain copier paper. Added to this is the fact that the graphic "look"
of sublimated products are widely accepted and bought, all across the United
Add low start-up cost
to the above and it is easy to understand why this process is a great addition
to an existing business and even a great start-up venture by itself.
Many companies already
have most or all of the simple equipment needed. A basic computer, almost any
type of graphics or desk top publishing program (or even Microsoft Word and
Word Perfect), any one of hundreds of laser printers, a flatbed heat press (there
are specialized heat presses for ball caps and coffee mugs) and a plate cutter,
to cut metal plates, is all that is needed. Add a sublimation toner cartridge
to that list and you are ready to make some serious money.
With this equipment you are ready to produce plaque plates, trophy plates, badges,
door signs, direction signs, desk name plates, ID plates, legend plates, or
hundreds of other items that need a lettered plate. Also, many textiles, such
as T-shirts, ball caps, mouse pads, and other items with at least a 65% polyester
content, can be sublimated.
Include an inexpensive scanner along with a simple to use illustration program,
like Photo Shop, and logo's can be easily added to your artwork.
Sublimation allows a
dozen items to be imprinted much cheaper than silk screening or thousands of
items to be imprinted much, much faster than engraving. Unlike the old days
of hand lettering and engraving, the power of the computer, and a sublimation
cartridge, can turn anyone into a sought-after, skilled artist.
While lasering, computer engraving and full color sublimation ink (for color
inkjet printers) lettering methods fulfill important roles, the sublimation
toner cartridge method remains a favorite of enterprising entrepreneurs wanting
to add to their bottom line.
Compared to other imprinting
methods, startup costs are low, (part of the tour, in "helpful
hints" page under Equipment), the learning curve is simple,
supplies inexpensive and productivity very high. These pluses can create a bottom
line that leaves you chuckling all the way to the bank.
If you would like to
receive sublimation samples, sample transfers you can test, our free newsletter
"Alphabits" and other information,
just contact us.
Dye Sublimation Toner-
Refers to a specific type of toner, loaded into a laser printer cartridge, that
allows you to sublimate. Ordinary printer toner won't work. The term is very
specific. Sublimation Ink, for inkjet printers, is a totally different
animal. Sublimation inks print full color transfers. They work very nicely on
white. On almost every thing else, especially gold metal, the image looks faded.
To Sublimate or Sublimation-
Refers to the specific ability or work needed to print a transfer onto a suitable
polymer coated item. For example, "I sublimate metal plates and some textiles"
or "Sublimation is a fast way to imprint things." Since sublimation
must be done with a heat press, the most common word used to describe the actual
work is "burn." For example, "I burned over two hundred plates
A Transfer -
is the actual piece paper that has been printed using a dye sublimation toner
cartridge. For example, "Have you printed the transfers for that job yet?"
Dye Sublimation Toner
Cartridge - is the formal name for a laser printer cartridge that holds
sublimation dye and has been re-engineered to deliver it correctly. The word
toner identifies it as a carbon based powder rather than ink which is basically
a liquid, with a suspension of toner. "Toner cartridge" is the most
commonly used industry term. As in, "John, the low toner light came on
the printer this morning. Better order another black toner cartridge."
- refers to the fact that a great sublimation toner cartridge requires better
and different parts than what are found in a standard "off the shelf"
cartridge. Sublimation toner is much coarser and more abrasive than regular
toner. It also goes on the drum much heavier and won't deliver optimally, unless
"Get A Roll
Going" - The sweetest term sublimation professional's use. The actual
work of producing sublimated products is so simple and efficient that even the
novice very quickly "gets a roll going."
The science and process
of sublimation is a very technical subject, used in many other industries and
closely studied and researched by scientists. The following is our layman's
attempt to explain the process with ordinary terms-
is a phase transformation process whereby a gas or solid changes to the other
form without any middle steps. For example, heated ice goes to a liquid and
then to a gas. "Heated" dry ice goes directly to a gas. Heated sublimation
toner powder goes to a gas. When cooled it goes back to a solid.
When sublimation toner is put next to a polymer-coated substance and both are
heated, in a heat press, a wonderful transformation takes place. At about 250
degrees (F) the solid toner starts turning into a gas and at about 320 degrees
the polymer "pores" start opening up and the gas starts going into
it. At the 350-360 degree transfer temperature we recommend, this takes place
in a few seconds. The other 28 seconds of press time is to allow for good saturation
and penetration. Almost as soon as the heat press is opened, the temperature
drops, the gas goes to a solid, the polymer molecules close up (this is why
sublimation print doesn't wash off) and bingo! You have a completed transfer
print on the metal.
What the above dry sounding
scientific explanation really means is that you can produce the look of a Rembrandt
without any artistic skills - except your imagination and a computer!
Endless! Whatever can
be printed on a sheet of copier paper can be transferred to a polymer coated
metal plate with dye sublimation toner. Tens of thousands of attractive, personalized
and profitable plates are produced, every day, for hundreds of items, using
a dye sublimation toner cartridge.
While a dye sublimation
cartridge can not produce process printing (you can't produce chartreuse, for
example) the standard colors of black, blue, red or green is what the overwhelming
majority of customers buy.In fact, 95% of the sales are black on gold.
sublimated products is an ideal addition to an existing business and a very
viable business by itself. One of our customers sells over $300,000 a year in
only sublimated products. Granted, we think there is a lot of "business
smarts" and hard work going on with that track record but the point is,
it can be done.
Let's take a look
at some profitable sublimated examples