Gone are the days when you could have any colour you like as long as it’s white! In the dye sublimation and digital printing market, some ground-breaking solutions mean that product decorators need never be limited to white or light-coloured polyester again. Here, Andrea Evans, Sawgrass’ international marketing manager, explains further.
Sublimating on cotton has long been the desire of product decorators worldwide. As the sublimation process only works with polymers, fabric decoration has been limited to synthetic fibres, and mainly light-coloured ones, and sublimating on dark coloured polyesters and cotton, the most popular and natural fabric in the world, have remained out of reach.
Sublimation inks are semi-transparent so the colour of the substrates they imprint upon, will affect the final colours seen after pressing, so dark-coloured fabrics, especially blacks, have long been excluded for use with sublimation.
Why is sublimating on cotton so important for product decorators?
First, cotton is the go-to fabric in decorating such as screen printing and direct to garment printing. Second, compared with the polyester options available for dye sublimation, cotton shirts have a lower cost and are readily available in different styles from a host of garment vendors. Third, and most importantly, customers simply prefer cotton.
A new breed of heat transfer media
After years of searching for this Holy Grail in sublimation, a number of heat transfer media manufacturers have developed solutions, which are fundamentally changing the paradigm of sublimating on cotton and dark-coloured polyesters. These new transfer media allow users to print directly onto the media or sublimate the media from a transfer, then cut down to size with a plotter, weed and affix to fabric of any colour or to cotton, with a heat press.
And the results?
Sublimation inks provide unmatched colour vibrancy and noticeably better colour reproduction than DTG shirts. In addition, the detail and sharpness of the image is better than screen printing or DTG. Those technologies are putting ink directly onto the fibres of the fabric, allowing the grain or threads that make up the fabric to be seen. With many of these new transfer media the inks reside within the media layer melted to the fabric, thus hiding the appearance of individual threads.
These new solutions are already causing quite a stir, with exciting exchanges being witnessed on social media. The effect on the personalised garment industry is likely to be tremendous, with profitable opportunities available to those harnessing the new developments.
How can you join the revolution?
If you want to be at the forefront of this step-change in the personalised garment industry, then don’t delay and search out these solutions today. If you already create sublimated personalised clothing, seek out the solutions that will give you a head start. Adding cotton or dark-coloured polyester garments is an easy change that should bring striking results, quickly.
If you are a budding entrepreneur eager to get started in product decoration, or a thriving business looking to add sublimation to your current product offering, then you need to know what to look for in your first sublimation system.
Key to success is a completely integrated solution from a manufacturer, who understands the technology and the market. A system where all the elements are optimised to work together, with colour and print management capabilities to help you produce the brightest, most vibrant colours and best results, whatever products you want to produce.
Look for partnerships within the industry where the media manufacturers and the ink experts have worked closely together with customised print setting for optimal results and consistent, vibrant colours according to the media or substrate. These magic combinations will unlock access to a growing and profitable sector.
And, a quality product decorating system doesn’t need to cost the earth. These solutions offer a more affordable way to sublimate full colour designs on coloured polyester, cottons, and more. Price is no longer an obstacle to getting into the personalisation market!
The digital nature of sublimation makes it a great fit for easily incorporating university, college, and club crests and logos into any design, and sublimation inks are perfect for accurately reproducing colours and designs. What’s more, colours remain vibrant in outdoor lighting and even after extensive washing, which is perfect for university and college clothing, team kits and school apparel.And, with an ink set that will let you imprint on cotton, light and dark polyesters, plus traditional substrates, the list of products you can create for the college market is endless: T shirts, hoodies, sports shirts and shorts, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, caps, towels, bags, mugs, phone cases, water bottles, mousepads, keyrings, awards, banners, flags, and believe it or not, socks, featuring university colours and crests, with logos, names or even photos are trending worldwide!