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Sublimation is a great, professional way to personalize mugs, shirts, tiles, jewelry and more. To begin, we'll go over the basics so you'll know if sublimation is for you and, if so, what equipment you will need to get started in this exciting field. Sublimation is more sophisticated and involved than regular heat pressing with more expert results to show for it. However, you will need to consider the cost, practicality and expense of the process of obtaining that perfect print. So, let's get started with the basics.

What you Need:

  • Sublimation Ink Compatible Printer - Epson or Ricoh printers
  • Sublimation Paper - such as our Image Right or Texprint paper.
  • Sublimation Ink - available in cartridges, bulk bags, and bottles.
  • ICC Color Correction Profile - this ensures that the colors print consistently with the colors on your image.
  • Heat resistant tape - if you are pressing mugs, tiles, or caps, the tape will prevent your image from moving during the transfer process.
  • Sublimatable Items - only products that have a polyester coating are compatible with sublimation. Take a look at our Sublimation Blanks page in order to get an idea of what you can sublimate on.
  • Heat press - these are used to bond the image to the sublimatable item. If you are pressing mugs or caps, you will need a mug or cap press, or attachments that can be bought for compatible presses.
  • An ICC Profile compatible program, such as Photoshop, or CorelDraw. (We only support use with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and CorelDraw.)

    What is sublimation?
    Sublimation is similar to heat transfer, however it is a process where the image becomes an actual part of the item. Sublimation uses special paper, ink and polyester-coasted items that all react with each other.***Sublimation must be applied to 100% polyester fabric or to polyester-coated hard surface items***

    The process of sublimation:
    When heated to high temperatures, sublimation ink turns into a gas and the pores of the polyester coated item open up, allowing the gas to enter. Then, once removed from the heat, the pores of the polyester item close up, trapping the ink inside of the item. Sublimation items are smooth to the touch -- you won't be able to feel any image outline if you run your fingers across the sublimated item.

    What sublimation won't do:
  • Imprint on cotton shirts. Multicolor imprints on cotton shirts are done with heat transfer paper. Regular inks are printed onto a high quality transfer paper and pressed on top of a garment with a heat press. However, the coating on heat transfer paper is also transferred, leaving an imprint you can feel.
  • Imprint 65/35 poly/cotton and 50/50 poly/cotton shirts with bright colors. Since a percentage of the shirt is cotton the colors become dull, especially after washing. Again, these shirts are most successfully imprinted with heat transfer papers, not sublimation.
  • Imprint colored shirts. Any colored background will drastically alters the imprint colors. Colored shirts generally turn out best when using opaque papers.
  • Imprint items (like mugs and tiles) that are not polymer coated. Remember that sublimation prints into the coating, not the item.

    Preparing your artwork:
    The heart of your design is the image. You can create original artwork, customize scanned clip art, use ready-made designs or even utilize photographs from your digital camera. Though you can create your design in any design program, you must print it from Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements or CorelDraw. In order to print your image correctly, the orientation will need to be reversed so the design prints out backwards onto the paper, just like regular heat transfer.

    It's always a good idea to print a preview copy of your image before actually printing it on the sublimation paper. You can verify that the image will print correctly, doesn't fall into your no-print zone and is correctly sized, as the on-screen view can be deceiving. Also, remember that the colors you see on your screen will not always be exactly what prints out. Even with the ICC profile keeping the colors in check, you may not always be able to get exact colors.

    Compatible Printers:
    ArTainium Sublimation Inks are offered for Epson C84/C86, C88, C120, Workforce 30, 1280/70/90, 1400, R1800, R1900, 3000, 4000, 4800, 4880 inkjet printers. These are just regular inkjet printers manufactured by Epson. Artainium Inks are used for sublimation in replacement of the regular inks included with the printer. (Though some of these printers are discontinued, they can still be found and we can supply inks for them.)

    Determining which printer is right for you is not as complicated as it may seem. There are three criteria you need to consider -- the size of jobs you do, the size of the images and accuracy. If you are just printing images to transfer to a mug, you would be just fine with a small printer like the C88 or Workforce 30. These printers only use 4 color cartridges, print up to 8.5" wide, and require less maintenance. If you will be printing larger images that would need an 11" x 17", size paper, an Epson 1400, with a six-color cartridge capacity, would be more useful. A heavier duty printer, such as the 4880, is great for high capacity production, accuracy and roll printing capability. This printer uses 8 color cartridges.

    We also now supply SubliJet R Sublimation ink for use in select Ricoh Printers which include the GXe3300n and the GX7000.
    Click here for supplies. With the Ricoh and SubliJet Sublimation systems, you will get less clogging and it uses only 1/3 of the ink as the Epson systems. Ricoh systems are also faster than the Epson systems! Both are great for beginners or advanced users. The Sublijet Power Driver is ONLY compatible with Windows.

  • The GXe3300n
    The gxe3300n prints up to 8.5" x 14" and uses 29ml cartridges.  When combined with the SubliJet Inks for sublimation, the gxe3300n uses a color correction profile (ICC Profile) which can only be managed through design programs that manages color files such as Adobe Photoshop, Elements, Illustrator, or CorelDraw. This is a great beginner system with the lowest start-up costs of all the Ricoh Printer Systems.Compatible on MAC an PC.

  • The GX7000
    Get the most for your buck out of the gx7000. It prints up to 11"x17." When combined with the SubliJet Ink for sublimation, it uses a Power Driver instead of a profile, but is not MAC compatible. No special design software is needed. The printer will work on all platforms when not using sublimation inks.


    Sublimation Ink:
    We have chosen Artainium UV+ Sublimation Ink by Sawgrass as our preferred sublimation ink. Cartridges are available in replacement of the regular OEM cartridges that come with your compatible Epson printer. Or, when cartridges just aren't providing enough ink for your large projects, the ArTainium UV+ Easy Flow Sublimation bulk ink systems will. They are quickly becoming the professionals' choice for obtaining continuous reliable production type performance from desktop printers. By adding the Easy Flow system to your printer, you will see your print per page costs drop dramatically!

    Bulk system are simply cartridges that are fed through tubes from replaceable bags that sit in a compact box next to your printer. These bags come in 110ml and 220ml, depending on the printer. Once one bag starts to get low, you can easily disconnect it from the system and replace it with another. *We don't a recommend bulk system if you are not printing on regular basis.Click here to see if a bulk system is available for your printer.

    Color Correction:
    When using sublimation ink, you must also use a form of color correction. Depending on which brand of sublimation ink you use, determines which form to take. We carry two brands of sublimation ink, so you have two choices...when using Artainium UV+ ink, you must use an ICC Profile which requires the use of a special design program such as Adobe Photoshop, Elements, Illustrator, or CorelDraw to manage profiles. See below for more about ICC Profiles. When using SubliJet ink, there is no need for a special design program. SubliJet uses a PowerDriver. Once you have the ink installed, you will then install a secondary printer driver that you can download for free on our website. Click here.See below for more about PowerDrivers.

     
    ICC Profile (for use with Artainium UV+):
    What does it do? Why do you have to have it? The ICC Color Correction profile is imperative in order to obtain consistently accurate colors from any dye sublimation ink. Though there are many different approaches taken by ink suppliers to obtain precise colors, we trust and use the internationally recognized ICC color profiles method.

    Quite simply, an ICC profile is a custom designed file that you install into your computer. This file takes into account the characteristics of the specific ink, paper, printer and program being used. Every time you print from Corel or Photoshop, you must tell the printer to use this file by changing the settings, allowing your prints to have accurate colors. When you purchase an ICC Profile you will receive a disc with instructions on it, or we can even email the profile to you if you need to have it set up sooner. Click here for instructions on how to set up your ICC Profile in Photoshop. click
    Windows or Mac. If you purchase a bulk system, your ICC profile will be included.

    Without the ICC profile, your program will think it is printing with regular Epson inks. The ICC profile gives it new instructions so the sublimation inks will print true colors.

    **Color profiles can only be managed with specific programs. We can only provide support with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Corel Draw.**  If you do not have one of the design programs and don't plan on purchasing them, we suggest using SubliJet Sublimation Ink.  This ink uses a driver rather than profile which allows you to easily choose the SubliJet Powerdriver instead of your Epson Printer's driver when printing...from any program.  You can download free
    SubliJet Drivers from our website to be used in conjuction with SubliJet ink. 

    Important Notes - CorelDraw 8 and down, Photoshop LE, Elements, 2.0 version 4 and down, or any version that comes with a printer, may not work correctly. Your colors may come out wrong because these programs do not allow you to set the working space. Other graphics programs cannot be used, unless you export your image into a supported program for printing.

    Not everyone owns or knows how to use these programs, but they are necessary. Unfortunately, a profile cannot be offered for every graphics program and many of these additional design programs are unable to read ICC profiles. Therefore, using one of the correct programs is crucial. Without them, colors will not come out precisely. The good new is that you don't have to be a graphic designer to add sublimation to your business. Free online tutorials are abundant and priceless! These tutorials were created to help you learn how to use almost any program. With a little bit of time, you can create professional-looking designs and images for your products. Another option is to create artwork in a different program and then copy and paste it onto a blank page in Corel or Photoshop in order to print it. If you're a beginner to design ,we recommend using Adobe Photoshop Elements -- it's less complicated and more user-friendly.

    PowerDriver (for use with SubliJet):
    When using SubliJet Sublimation inks, you must also download the Powerdriver for your particular printer. These are free for download on our website. Once installed, you will simply select the new PowerDriver instead of your Epson Printer Driver from your printer dropdown list upon printing. That's it! No special design program needed. No hard to follow color correction steps to follow. The powerdriver has options within to help get even more accurrate results. SubliJet Ink is recommended for beginners or for those who don't have access to special design programs. The Sublijet Power Driver is ONLY compatible with Windows.

    Which paper should I use?
    Choosing sublimation paper is a personal choice. Image Right Sublimation Paper and TruePix Paper are both exceptional sublimation transfer papers.

    Image Right Premium Paper: Don't let the price fool you! Our newest sublimation paper provides equal, if not better, results than our current TruePix Paper. Image Right is able to offer superior quality at a discounted price! Image Right delivers true consistent color from digital image to print with photo quality transfers. This paper is sure to get the job done whether the substrate is a soft polyester fabric or hard ceramic tile.

    TruePix High Definition Paper: Our older paper has been designed for use with today's state of the art 6 and 7 color printers, because these printers deliver more ink onto the paper through the print head. This paper will hold the saturation which would otherwise cause the detail to be lost in the transfer. TruePix is specially designed to hold the ink on the surface without the paper becoming too wet and then rippling due to over saturation.

    Heat Presses: 
    A heat press is the machine that presses a transfer onto an imprintable substrate. Transfers are embedded into the product through using high temperatures and heavy pressure. Heat presses are recommended for professional and satisfying results. Sublimation requires 365-400 degrees F. We categorize our heat presses by the manufacturer-Geo Knight, Hix, Mighty Press, and Hotronix. One of the main differences between heat presses to help you decide which one is right for you is the size. Depending on the size of your sublimation paper, you will need to select your heat press accordingly. Standard heat press sizes are 9" x 12", 11" x 15", & 16" x 20". There are also a number of sizes inbetween. If you are using sublimation paper that is 8.5" x 11", your press will need to be at least a 9"x12" press. If you are going to be transferring to a large cutting board and your sublimation paper is 11"x17", you will need to get at least a 16"x20". Another thing you will need to decide is if you want your heat press to have all of the "bells and whistles". Higher end presses will have features such as digital readouts for times, pressure, and temperature while other, less expensive, presses have manual timers with analog dials to control these same features. Whether the press is set up manually or digitally, it will get the job done!

     

    Whitelines across the image/image won't print
    There are many reasons this could occur. The most common reason is that your machine is new or has been idle for a week or longer. In this case, you would need to remove the sublimation ink from your printer and install the original
    Epson ink cartridges in your machine. If you are using a Ricoh Printer, do NOT install the original Ricoh Brand cartridges in the printer! Then do a series of three head cleanings and nozzle checks with these cartridges. The secret is that the original cartridges have a detergent within the cartridge itself which helps remove the buildup blocking the print head. The sublimation ink does not have the detergent in it and, since it is thick, build-up occurs more frequently. When your sublimation machine has been sitting idle for a while the ink tends to harden in the print head, not allowing the ink to flow through correctly. If you are not printing on a daily basis, we recommended performing a head cleaning every few days to keep your printer running smoothly.

    Red light on Printer
    Cause: The printer does not recognize the ink cartridge chip.

    First make sure that all of the chips are on the cartridges and that none have fallen off. Then snap the cartridges back in to place to ensure it was not a placement issue. Sometimes printers can be extremely sensitive about the chip or the cartridge being slightly out of position or not locked down all of the way. By merely removing the cartridge and putting it back in a couple of times should help. If you are using a bulk ink system the troubleshooting is similar. The piece that holds the chips may not be locked down properly. The plastic bar that goes on top of the chips, under the cartridges, may not be secured either. Check that these pieces both click into place. If the printer light still does not go off, turn your printer off for a couple of minutes, then turn it back on. This tricks the printer and chips into thinking that you have installed new cartridges. Sometimes the printer will assume that it should be out of ink after so many prints without realizing you are using a bulk ink system instead of regular cartridges.

    Secondly, if everything seems to be placed properly and the printer is still not recognizing the cartridges, the printer may not have good contact with the micro chips on the cartridges. Clean the chips by gently wiping them with an alcohol wipe and double-check that there is not too much glue on the chip. If this does not solve your problems, there is the possibility that you could have defective chips which would need replacement. Please contact Sawgrass at 1-888-253-1679 for replacements.

    Color Issues (ICC Profile Installation)
    For Mac OSX and higher, insert the disk and view the profile. In your hard drive, click on system/ Library/ ColorSync/ Profiles. Drop the corresponding printer profile in that folder. Your Photoshop and CorelDraw will recognize the profile if it is in the folder. Once your profile is in the correct location in your computer, you need to set your computer up to actually use it. Step by step instructions on correct settings can be found on the disc in the folder labeled "instructions."
    You can also click here to view a PDF

    For PC Windows, simply install the disk and you will receive a prompt with three option; click on "e;run and install"e; for the set-up wizard to walk your through the rest. If you do not get an installation wizard pop up window, then you can manually install the profile. Open your "MyComputer" icon on your desktop and right-click on the CD/DVD ROM drive that your CD is currently using and select explore. Open the profiles folder finding the corresponding profile for your specific printer. Now open another MyComputer window and follow this path: C:Drive (Hard drive)/WINDOWS/System32/Spool/Drivers/Color. Drag and drop the profile for your printer into this newly opened color profile window. Your Photoshop and CorelDraw will recognize the profile if it is in the folder. Once your profile is in the correct location , you must tell your program and printer how to use it. If not, it will always print using a default color profile. Step by step instructions on correct settings can be found on the disc in the folder labeled "instructions." You can also click here to view a PDF. Currently, ICC profiles cannot be managed in other programs.

    My image is not transferring correctly

    If you are transferring to fabric, double check that it is made of 100% polyester for best results. A lower percentage of polyester causes a lighter transfer. If you are transferring onto a hard surface, make sure it is polyester coated and stated that is intended for sublimation use.Every item requires a different time and temperature in order to transfer. For example, most metals or aluminums require 400 degrees F for 45 seconds. Most plastics require 400 degrees F for 35 seconds. Not only do you need to verify the correct pressing time and temperature for each item, but you also need to be aware that sometimes adjustments need to be made due to the variety of equipment available.

    My image looks bad
    If your image looks unclear and pixilated when you print it, it is probably because your image's resolution is not high enough. We recommend 300 dpi resolution, which is a high quality image. 72 dpi will work sometimes if the image is already set at its printable size. Do not increase a low resolution image to 300 dpi! This will cause your image to look even more pixilated when transferred. In order for your image to come out clear, the size must decrease in order to compensate for the added pixels. Keep in mind that you cannot create image quality, you can only take it away.

    Many people like to take images from the web to create a design. Unfortunately, most images on the web are lower quality, making them suitable for web placement and faster viewing. Though these images may look good on the screen, they will become pixilated and dull when printed because they are lower quality images.

    My mugs are bleeding in the dishwasher
    It's most likely that, if your mugs are bleeding in the dishwasher, your dishwasher is too hot. Try a lower temperature wash cycle if possible, or merely hand wash the mugs.

    ***If these suggestions don't help solve your particular issue, please feel free to contact Coastal's Technical Support at (800) 562-7760.***







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    SB5565
    SB5566
    EZ Name Bar (8") - Black Edge
    EZ Name Bar (8") - Gold Edge
    Download


    Awards


    Pet Accessories


    Puzzles


    Basketball Hoop
    Part Number Description Template Download
    SB5548 Mini Basketball Goal Download


    Stockings
    Part Number Description Template Download
    323 8"x22" Stocking Download


    Tiles
    Part Number Description Template Download
    52200 Unisub Harboard Tile (1.75"x1.75") Download
    SB5708 Unisub Harboard Tile (2"x2") Download
    SB5727 Unisub Harboard Tile (3.06"x6.06") Download
    SB5686 Unisub Harboard Tile (3"x6") Download
    SB5682
    54400
    Unisub Harboard Tile (4.25"x4.25")
    Ceramic Tile (4.25"x4.25")
    Download
    SB5702 Unisub Harboard Tile (4"x6") Download
    SB5683
    56606
    56600
    SB5688
    Unisub Harboard Tile (6"x6")
    Glass Frosted Tile (6"x6")
    Ceramic Tile (6"x6")
    Framed Tile Kit (6"x6")
    Download
    SB5684 Unisub Harboard Tile (6"x7.875") Download
    56800 Ceramic Tile (6"x8") Download
    SB5697
    58800
    Unisub Harboard Tile (8"x8")
    Ceramic Tile (8"x8")
    Download
    SB5750
    SB5723
    Unisub Harboard Tile (8"x10")
    Framed Tile Kit (8"x10")
    Download
    SB5698
    58121
    Unisub Harboard Tile (12"x12")
    Ceramic Tile (12"x12")
    Download
    50030 Ceramic Tile (3"x2") Download
    50040 Ceramic Tile (4"x2.7") Download
    50050 Ceramic Tile (5"x3.3") Download
    50060 Ceramic Tile (6"x4") Download

     






    Sublimation Ceramic Ornaments:
    1. Print image in reverse/mirror mode and slightly larger than tile.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the image to your ornament.
    3. Because the ornaments are not even, we recommend using a
    heat pad for providing an even transfer.
    4. Press at 400 degrees F for 2 minutes with light/medium pressure.

    Sublimation Tiles:
    1. Print image in reverse/mirror mode and slightly larger than tile.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper (with image) to tile so that the image is facing inward toward the product in the correct position.
    3. With the sublimation paper on bottom and the tile on top, press at 400 degress F with medium pressure for 4-6 minutes. The time depends on the size of the tile. The tile will actually be touching the heat press platen, not the sublimation paper!
    Alternate pressing instructions: place the tile face up on the heat press and the image facing down on top of the tile. The paper will be touching the platen this way. Press for 2-3 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat press and carefully peel off the dye sub paper.

    Ceramic Sublimation Mugs :

    with mug press
    1. Print image in reverse/mirror mode.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper (with image) to product in the correct position.
    3. For the Coastal Brand Mug Press: Open the handle completely so that it rests on the table. Press the mode button to access the time/temp settings. Set the idol temperature on the
    mug press to 280 degrees F, the temperature to 365 degrees F and set your time to 30-60 seconds. Once heated to the idol temperature of 280 degrees F, insert your mug inside and close the press. You will notice the temperature will go down and then rise again. Once the temperature gets to 365 degrees F it will start to count down from 30-60 seconds. When the timer beeps remove the mug immediately and peel away paper.
    4. Even though the mug is not in the press, the heat from the mug and the contact by the transfer keeps the process going. Always take off the paper right away and if possible, cool off the mug with cool air or 60-80 degree water. This will keep the image perfectly clear. (If any bleeding or spreading of the ink occurs, this is what is happening and the mugs needs to cool more or longer.)
    5. Let the mug press heat back up to 280 before pressing another mug.
    **Always keep a mug in the mug press when the handle is closed and when not in use. You can designate a "dummy mug" (one that you will not be using) for this.
    For other mug presses suggested time/temp:press at 365 degrees for 4 minutes.

    with mug wrap:
    1. Print image in reverse/mirror mode.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper (with image) to product in the correct position.
    3. Wrap mug wrap around mug and adjust wrap so it gives a secure fit.
    4. Place in oven a bake at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes.
    5. Carefully remove from heat and remove wrap.
    6. Even though the mug is not in the oven the heat from the mug and the contact by the transfer keeps the process going. Always take off the paper right away and if possible, cool off the mug with cool air or 60-80 degree water. This will keep the image perfectly clear. (If any bleeding or spreading of the ink occurs, this is what is happening and the mugs needs to cool more or longer.)
    Plastic Travel Mugs & Mugs:
    1. Tape image to mug.
    2. Insert mug insertion tool inside mug to prevent disformation of mug
    3. Wrap a teflon sheet around mug to prevent mug heating element patterns from transferring over to mug
    4. Press at 340 degrees F for 90 seconds using light press. (Mug King Press Instructions)
    5. Remove paper immediately and dump mug in cool water

    Aluminum Travel Mugs:
    1. Print image in reverse/mirror mode.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper with your image face down to the mug.
    3. Press at 365 degrees F for 45 seconds in mug press.
    4. Carefully pen press, remove from heat, and remove sublimation paper.

    Aluminum Water Bottle:
    1. Print image in reverse/mirror mode.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper with your image face down to the water bottle.
    3. Press at 365-370 degrees F for 5 seconds using the Coastal Mug King mug press with light pressure.
    4. Carefully pen press, remove from heat, and remove sublimation paper.

    UnisubCutting Boards:
    1. Print photo to size that is slightly larger than the the cutting board. (DO NOT REVERSE IMAGE.) Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Put the printed image down, image facing up at you and then the cutting board, face up, on top of it.
    3. With the paper on bottom and the product on top, press with a heat press at 400 degress F with medium pressure for 5 minutes. The top of the cutting board will be touching the heat platen, not the paper!
    4. Remove from heat and carefully remove paper.

    Other hardboard type items such as puzzles, coasters, keychains, clipboards:
    1. Print photo to size that is slightly larger than the face of the item.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper with your image face down on top of the item.
    3. Press at 400 degrees F for 35 seconds.
    4. Carefully lift press, remove from heat, and remove sublimation paper.

    Metals/Aluminum items such as dog tags, ornaments, and license plates:
    1. Print photo to size that is slightly larger than the face of the item.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper with your image face down on top of the item.
    3. Press at 400 degrees F for 45 seconds.
    4. Carefully lift press, remove from heat, and remove sublimation paper.

    Fabric items such as mousepads, bags, coasters, and 100% polyester shirts:
    1. Print image in reverse/mirror mode, slightly larger than the item.  Remember to use your correct ICC Profile and settings or your PowerDriver depending on which ink you are using.
    2. Tape the sublimation paper with your image face down on top of the item .
    3. Press at 400 degrees F for 35-40 seconds.
    4. Carefully lift press, remove from heat, and remove sublimation paper.

    ***Please note that all time and temperatures are for sublimation products only, and time and temperatures will vary slightly from press to press.***