Everything You Need to Start a Sublimation Printing Business
It’s an exciting time to live in! Starting a personalization business has never been easier. In fact, dye-sublimation printing has empowered many creators, makers and entrepreneurs like yourself to build lucrative businesses producing and selling high-quality custom products. With a few pieces of equipment and a little elbow grease, you can have your own personalization shop up and running in no time.
Now, let’s dive in and look at everything you need to start your sublimation business!
#1 – Sublimation Printer Package
The first (and most important) piece of equipment you need is a sublimation printer. For most folks just starting out, we recommend the Sawgrass SG500 and the SG1000 sublimation printers. The Sawgrass systems are the most intuitive and user-friendly printers for beginners, and you can get up and running in no time. Both the SG500 and SG1000 are powerful, versatile and affordable printers that enable you to customize a wide array of products such as mugs, coasters, plaques, T-shirts, mouse pads, and so much more.
The main difference between the SG500 and SG1000 is the maximum paper size you can print on. The SG500 can print up to 8.5” x 14”, which makes it ideal for smaller items. In contrast, the SG1000 can print up to 11” x 17” standard or up to 13” x 19” with the optional bypass tray. The SG1000 enables you to produce a larger selection of products such as pillows, signs, and doormats. If you are a more advanced user or would like to print even larger items, another sublimation printer option is the Epson F570. The F570 is the largest desktop sublimation printer on the market and can print up to 24” rolls of paper.
If you are a more advanced user or would like to print even larger items, another sublimation printer option is the Epson F570. The F570 is the largest desktop sublimation printer on the market and can print up to 24” rolls of paper.
#2 – Heat Press or Mug Press
The second primary piece of equipment to invest in is a heat press (or a mug press if your personalization focus is drinkware). While a home iron may be suitable for certain heat transfer papers, a heat press is necessary to achieve high quality, vibrant and consistent prints.
Now, there are a lot of heat presses to choose from, each with different features, and you can be quickly overwhelmed by the options. But don’t panic! The main consideration for starters is the platen size (that is, the size of the surface where you place your products). A larger press allows you to customize larger products.
As a beginner, especially if you are opting for the Sawgrass SG500 printer, you will find that the MAXX Digital Clamshell 11"x15" heat press will allow you to produce most of everything you aim to create. If you are wanting to create larger products with the Sawgrass SG1000 or the Epson F570, we would recommend a larger press like the Geo Knight DK20S.
If your focus is drinkware, such as ceramic coffee mugs or water bottles, you will want to invest in either a mug press or a mug oven. Our 4-in-1 Multi-Purpose Mug Press is perfect for getting started as it’s able to press a large selection of mugs, bottles and other drinkware in a variety of sizes. As your production grows, you may eventually consider a mug oven, which is more expensive but will allow you to press multiple mugs at one time.
#3 – Sublimation Blanks
You’ve got your printer package, your heat press or mug press, and now you need some blank products to start customizing. Something important to note is that only products that are made of polyester or have a special polyester coating can be sublimated. That said, all of the thousands of sublimation blanks that Coastal carries have this polyester coating and are ready to be sublimated right out of the box!
You can also get started with one of our sublimation blank bundles that contain a variety of blanks to customize!
#4 – Ink & Paper
With our Sawgrass and Epson printer packages, you will receive a full set of ink cartridges, but it’s always beneficial to keep an extra set of ink on hand, so you can avoid stressful scenarios (like running out of ink in the middle of an order!). The SG500 and SG1000 printers both use the standard capacity Sublijet UHD ink. For the SG1000, the extended capacity cartridges are also available, which contain over twice as much ink. As far as paper goes, for the Sawgrass SG500 and SG1000 printers, we recommend the Image Right sublimation paper, which is available in a variety of sizes. For the Epson F570, we suggest the Epson DS paper rolls.
#5 – Additional Supplies
You’ve got the essentials. Now, you just need a few more things to prep your sublimation business before you can hit the ground running! Here are a couple items that will make production a breeze:
- Transfer gloves - protect your hands from burns by wearing these when handling hot items
- Thermal tape + tape dispenser - this heat-resistant tape secures your paper to your sublimation blanks to prevent shifting, which can cause ghosting and ruin your transfer.
- Spray adhesive - this also secures your paper in place and is ideal for garments and fabrics.
- Silicone cover sheets - these sheets are used to prevent sublimation ink from bleeding onto your heat press.
- Foam pillows – these help to protect your garments/fabrics from the harsh, direct heat of your heat press. They also help to eliminate press lines, which can occur on fabric items.
#6 – Computer & Software
The last thing you need to start your sublimation business is a computer (PC or Mac) and design software. Your computer does not have to be super fancy; it just needs to be able to run whichever design software you use. Examples of design software include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel DRAW, and Sawgrass’ CreativeStudio.
Less than graphically inclined? Don’t worry! Your Sawgrass SG500 or SG1000 printer will come with their own design software (for free) called CreativeStudio, and it’s possibly the easiest-to-use design program on the planet. In fact, thousands of non-graphically-savvy folks use it every day to produce high-quality sublimated products. We’re confident you’ll be able to pick up and use CreativeStudio in no time, and we’re here to help you if you have questions or need advice!
Are you ready to start your sublimation business? Need advice on where to begin? Our Customer Success Team is happy to point you in the right direction and answer all of your questions! Let us help you grow your business the right way – right from the beginning! Give our team a call at (800) 562-7760 or shoot us an email at [email protected] to get started today!