So you want to sublimate the entire garment?

All you need to do is buy a large printer, a large heat press, inks, and paper. Sounds simple enough, right?

A full sublimation tshirt

Well, it is simple but there are a few things you need to consider when you decide to take the BIG step into wide format garment decoration.

The first and most important question: what is your market and can you create the demand for your unique products in your market to justify the expense and time to learn the production process? What will separate you from the other guys? Will the addition of wide format sublimation add the extra revenue to justify your investment? I am not going to get into the marketing in this blog, but you know your business and customers better than anyone so get that business and marketing plan together so you can realize the extra profits from your new garment decoration capability.

Now that you have your market in mind and your plan together, let’s talk about getting you the right equipment and supplies so you can successfully produce those incredible garments for your customers.

What Heat Press is Right for You?

The first important decision you need to make is what heat press will do the job for you now and in years to come. In most cases, the heat press is the most expensive piece of the wide format sublimation equipment puzzle. The wide format presses (Coastal carries both AIT and Geo Knight) range in size from 30” x 40” to 54” x 103” with pricing starting at around $8,000 for a 30” x 40” manual heat press to over $50,000 for an automatic twin-shuttle 54” x 103”. In your decision process, you need to determine the largest size of garment you plan to press. For instance, the 30” x 40” heat press will work fine for swimwear, t-shirts up to XL, and cut and sew sublimation. The 40” x 60” and larger presses will take care of the largest sizes up to XXXL. The 40” x 60” presses will cost about $13,000 – $14,000 for a manual press and $17,000 and up for the automatic presses.

The next consideration is how many shirts you will need to produce per hour, per shift, per day, etc. Ways to speed up the pressing process include having twin-shuttles and adding bottom heat. Since the garments take 30 to 40 seconds per side to press, adding the extra shuttle will allow you to prepare the next garment for pressing while the press is operating. This allows you to be ready to press as soon as one transfer is complete. Using a dual heat press allows you to transfer to both sides of the garment. Coastal has many choices on heat presses and can make sure you have the right one for your budget and what you need to produce.

What Wide Format Printer do you need?

Mutoh RJ 900

Wide format sublimation printers are defined as printers over 42” wide. For sublimation you need the piezo-electric printheads. Printers that work well with sublimation inks include Epson, Mutoh, Mimaki, and Roland. The entry-level wide format printers include the Epson 9880 and the Mutoh RJ 900. The cost of a new Epson 9880 printer is $4,995 and, for a couple of thousand more, the Mutoh RJ 900 is a very good choice. The Epson is an 8-color printer that can run dual CMYK or the 8-color ink configuration. This printer can print to speeds up to 98 square feet per hour, but actual production will be less. The Mutoh RJ 900 runs CMYK inks and has print speeds of over 400 square feet per hour, but normal production speed is around 220 square feet per hour. The Mutoh RJ 900 has become the production printer of choice not only because of the faster print speeds and economical cost, but also due to ease of operation and maintenance, non-pressurized and non-chipped ink cartridges, and the wave print technology that eliminates banding in your prints.

64” and wider printers start in the low $20,000’s and have no speed advantages over the Mutoh RJ 900. For garment decoration most find the 42.5” print width is just right for the size and, if you need more production, the additional printers can be added at a reasonable cost.

How do you get good digital workflow and accurate colors?

I recommend that you purchase a RIP (Rastor Image Processor) with your sublimation package. The RIP will help you with your layouts, your production work flow and, with our stock and custom profiles, make sure you get consistent results. We support ErgoSoft, Wasatch and Flexi RIPS.

The normal full size sublimation garment print for a XL shirt is 9 to 10 square feet per side. Using wide format sublimation inks such as J-Teck Subly Nano ink and a good sublimation transfer paper such as TexPrint Tacky paper will cost you between $2.00 and $2.50 per side of each shirt. So, your overall consumable cost for over-all garment decoration is from $4.00 to $5.00 per shirt. Most can sell those shirts at a minimum of $20.00 per shirt so you can see that entire garment sublimation is a very profitable endeavor. Coastal can help you with the right wide format sublimation garment decoration solution.