Superb sportswear with sublimation

Sublimated sportwear is a great alternative to the more traditional embroidered or screen printed clothing. Here Andrea Evans, Sawgrass’ international sales manager, takes a look at the advantages of sublimated sportswear.

Dye sublimation is the perfect solution for anyone looking to extend their product range or kickstart a new business.

It offers the highest level of flexibility and enables the creation of unique and personalised designs – ideal for sportswear!

What is sublimated sportswear?

Put simply, dye sublimation enables you to print whatever you like – solid colours, graduated colours, club badges, bespoke colours, logos, sponsors, numbers or individual names – directly onto the fabric.

This printing technique uses the combination of heat and gas. When the plain garment is put on the heat press, the temperature climbs enabling the molecules of the polyester to open in the fabric and the dye sublimation ink is immediately transformed into gas. This allows the gas to permeate the garment. Once the heat is removed the sublimated ink will turn back to a solid form, allowing the polyester molecules in the fabric to close leaving the ink embedded directly into the heart of the garment.

Dye sublimation is just like a tattoo, the ink actually impregnates the fabric, making its effect permanent and therefore unaffected by washing or ironing. The fabric remains soft, lightweight and flexible without the weight of other types of fabric printing, making it a perfect option for sportswear.

What type of products can you offer?

To produce sublimated sportswear, you’ll generally need blanks. These are blank garments that can be sublimated. For sublimation they will have to have a high polyester content.

Many high performance and technical fabrics are ideal for sportswear, often with wicking properties to allow the fabric to breathe.

There’s an extensive range of blank garments available on the market including technical T shirts and polo shirts, running vests and shorts, cycle gilets and jerseys, performance hoodies and leggings, base layers, football, netball and rugby shirts and even socks

What you need to get started

The cost of entry into the sublimated product market is really low, with high-quality desktop sublimation printers available from as little as £500.

To get started you’ll just need a printer with sublimation ink, a heat press, sublimation paper and some blank sublimation garments, plus a little bit of creativity to produce some samples to kickstart your business.

How can I create products?

Dye sublimation allows you to print your design onto your chosen garment by using a special sublimation transfer paper, such as Truepix Classic.

First, you create your design in a standard graphic design tool such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel or a special sublimation design tool such as CreativeStudio, with its ready-made sublimation templates.

Create your designs incorporating logos, sponsor names, designs or images, even individual names and numbers, which are then printed onto the transfer paper using a special sublimation printer such as the Sawgrass SG1000 with sublimation ink. Your printed design is then carefully positioned on the garment and fixed with a heat press.

The digital nature of sublimation makes it a great fit for easily incorporating club and sponsor names or logos into any design, eliminating the need for embroidered logos. It allows you to produce vibrant colours from the extensive gamut of colours, even the option of selecting pantone colours and colour matching. It allows for printing designs all over a garment or just adding a small club badge, whatever your customer may want. It’s also easy and cost-effective to produce one off or small run items individual items, for example football shirts personalised with a player’s name.

What’s more, colours remain vibrant in outdoor lighting and after extensive washing, which is perfect for team and premiership shirts and school sports kits.

Customers and business shouldn’t be difficult to find by approaching local sports clubs, schools and teams in your area. Connect directly with them and remember, make some samples incorporating the logo, badge or design of the club or team you are approaching.

There’s nothing that sells better than seeing and touching the real product.

Five reasons to offer sublimated sportswear

  • You can offer a choice of all-over printing or simply logos, sponsor name, team names or numbers.
  • It’s a cost-effective solution for larger volumes or even individual personalised items.
  • Sublimation delivers a long-lasting finish that won’t fade, crack or peel and are comfortable and lightweight to wear.
  • You can offer designs with stunning full colour spectrum designs that do not fade easily after washing.
  • You can access a huge range of garments for sublimation in high performance and moisture wicking fabrics offering the highest quality and durability.

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