Creating personalised face masks is as easy as 1-2-3

Six months ago, not many of us would have believed that we’d be talking, and writing, about making face masks, but with the easing of lockdown and the new requirements to wear masks on public transport, demand for face masks has come out of nowhere and is growing very quickly – so could be a great short-term business opportunity! Here Andrea Evans, international sales manager of Sawgrass, provides an easy step-by-step guide to sublimating face masks.

Whether you want to make masks for your friends and family, or offer them on your online store, creating trendy designs or personalised masks can be easily and cost-effectively achieved with a desktop sublimation printer.

So, this month, we thought we give you a step-by-step guide to creating face masks. Not medical grade face masks to be used in hospitals, but the everyday kind that can be washed and used again, and can even give you a fun, friendly or co-ordinated look.

Blank facemasks are widely available from many online suppliers and a quick search on Google will return a selection of local companies. Remember, that for sublimation it’s key that at least the outer layer to be sublimated is made of polyester.

A good option is a layered face masks, with an outer layer of polyester, perfect for sublimation, and an inner layer of cotton for less irritation and comfort. Many of the masks have a pocket for a filter, depending upon requirements. They tend to come in at least two sizes; one for women and children and one for men. They’re typically around £2-£3. The masks can be machine washed and if you are using a filter, it can be hand washed or replaced if preferred.

Step 1: Design

Create your personalised face masks design in any standard graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel, or create a free account in CreativeStudio, the online design tool developed specifically for sublimation. Your free account will give you access to a selection of templates for face masks as well as some royalty free designs, elements, fonts and colours.

Either select a template or simply use a custom canvas that would at least cover the face mask. If you are using a template, then ensure that you have a bleed line around your design. Plan carefully too, as you should be able to print at least two face masks on each sheet of A4 sublimation paper to be more cost-effective.

Design away until your heart’s content by adding background colours, logos, names, fun fake smiles or subtle patterns. If you are creating them for your children, you could even let them design their very own: some of the software tools are easy-to-use and children so tech-savvy, that it could be a great creative task for them and they’ll feel a sense of pride and want to wear their creation!

Step 2: Print

Using a suitable colour and print management software, such as SPM, print your design onto sublimation paper with your desktop sublimation printer.

Using a colour and print management software will ensure you get the colours you want; it will allow you to select the correct settings for your substrate (polyester/apparel) especially if you are new to sublimation this can be a great help, and, if you want to print a number of copies of the same design, you can also ‘gang’ your designs onto one piece of sublimation paper. This helps to keep costs down!

Step 3: Press

Heat your flatbed heat press to the recommended temperature for your specific product.  It’s normally around 180°C to 190° C (but check the instructions).

Place a piece of parchment paper under your face mask, secure the image on top of the face mask with thermal tape. Cover with another piece of parchment paper to avoid product damage and press for the recommended time.  This can be anywhere between one and three minutes, so check the suppliers recommended time and pressure.

After pressing, your face mask will be ready. Remove it from the heat press and remember to always use a protective glove. Just leave it a minute or two to cool down and hey presto, your very own personalised face mask! It really is as easy as 1-2-3!

With sublimation, the design is ‘in’ the fabric, so it really won’t matter how many times you wash the masks, the design will always be there and the colours shouldn’t face at all.  That’s the magic of sublimation.

At around £2-3 to purchase blank face masks, there is plenty of scope to make a profit on selling personalised or simply decorative face masks.  But you ‘ll need to get moving, as demand is high at the moment because of the pandemic but of course we all hope this won’t last too long, and that life ‘gets back to normal soon’.

Happy creating!

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