Justifying the Initial Cost of Wide Format Sublimation

PROSOBLOGMany of the current “desktop” dye sublimation production companies are now considering taking the next step up to a wide format sublimation set-up. It may make sense if you are one of those busy shops that are currently using the Ricoh printers with Sawgrass ink cartridges.

If you are one of these companies, then what is the Return on Investment (ROI) for making the switch? Excluding a heat press the calculations are pretty simple. If you are currently buying Ricoh SubliJet ink in cartridges at $ 126.00 per 60ml cartridge then your liter ink cost is $2,100.00. The liter ink cost for wide format sublimation ink is $ 125.00.

Figure that for most full color images you will use between 1 ml to 1.5 ml of ink per square foot. The ink cost of a square foot of printing for the small format solution is between $ 2.10 and $3.15. For the Wide Format solution the ink cost will be between $ .125 and $.1875 per square foot.

So, say the wide format printer package costs $ 7,495.00. How many square feet of printing do you need to do to justify the initial price based on ink cost alone?  Using the higher coverage number of 1.5 ml per square foot then if you print 2,530 square feet of transfers, then you will be able pay for the initial cost of the wide format sublimation printer. If you average about ½ of a square foot for your image on a t-shirt, then, when you print 5,060 shirts you will have paid for the printer.

Adding to the savings is the fact your paper costs are much lower. The cost of the wide format sublimation paper is from $ .10 to $ .12 per square foot while the small format sublimation paper is about $ .20 per square foot. This is an additional savings of $ 08 to $ .10 per square foot of paper usage.

Here is another way to look at the ROI to help you justify a wide format sublimation printer:

Wide format printer packages start at $7,495.00 including 4 liters of ink, paper, bulk feed system, and RIP software with profiles.

60 ml of Ricoh SubliJet ink costs $ 126.00. So if you were to use 60 SubliJet cartridges (or only 15 sets of CMYK) equal the same amount of ink (4 liters) that you will get with the initial wide format package. Those 60 cartridges @ the $126.00 price per cartridge = $ 7,560.00. Basically that is the cost of a new faster wide format printer that includes an equal amount of quality sublimation ink. Who doesn’t want a FREE wide format printer?

There are many advantages to stepping up to the wide format solution for your sublimation production including:

  • Ability to produce overall shirt transfers with a wide format heat press
  • Ability to produce cut and sew garments  and uniforms
  • Better work flow with use of the Wasatch software RIP
  • Can archive previous jobs in the RIP
  • Faster print speeds
  • Excellent color management
  • Great support and warranties
  • Ability to print multiple jobs at the same time
  • Conserve paper with smart nesting and using only what you need
  • Can print unattended for overnight printing with a take up system
  • Industrial Grade equipment that will last many years


Coastal sells and supports both the Epson and the Mutoh printers for wide format sublimation  production and have printers from 44” to 104” and can help you design the exact solution that is best for your specific requirements.

If you think you are ready, contact our Professional Solutions department to speak to an expert.




Tracy Takes On…“I’m Confused, Tell me What I Need?” Part IV

We’re going to now move into the world of sublimation….everyone thinks this is a gift to fix all. Don’t be so sure! Sublimation is the process of an ink turning into a gas, penetrating the fibers in the garment when … Continue reading

The post Tracy Takes On…“I’m Confused, Tell me What I Need?” Part IV appeared first on Blogging with Coastal – Transfer Paper, Sublimation, Heat Press, Vinyl and More!.

tracytakesonWe’re going to now move into the world of sublimation….everyone thinks this is a gift to fix all. Don’t be so sure!

Sublimation is the process of an ink turning into a gas, penetrating the fibers in the garment when heated, becoming a permanent part of that item and then sealing into the fibers of that item once it’s completely cooled. Sublimation was originally thought to be a process to apply images onto hard surface items only, such as ceramics, metals, certain plastics, and hardboard materials but it’s become very popular with large format users who are doing customized garments. Anything from jerseys, t-shirts, swimsuits, towels, blankets, floor mats/car mats and tote bags are just some examples of the growing industry.

Small desktop printers range from 8.5” x 14” systems up to 13” x 19” with optional bypass trays that are available. Epson and Ricoh are the main brands of sublimation printers (see all of our small format sublimation-compatible printers HERE). Epson printers are equipped with a Piezo print head technology. Micro Piezo print heads feature microscopic piezoelectric actuators that are built behind the print nozzles. When an electrical charge is applied to them, the piezoelectric elements bend backward, drawing precise amounts of ink from the ink chamber into the firing chamber. When the electrical pulse is reversed, the piezoelectric elements bend the opposite way very rapidly, propelling the ink out of the nozzles at high speed. This helps with clogging issues since sublimation ink is a little thicker than regular OEM inks. A handful of Epson printers are also able to be equipped with bulk refill systems, which use bags of ink instead of cartridges. This will drastically cut down your cost per print as we all know how small some inkjet printer cartridges can be!

Ricoh printers aren’t equipped with these types of print heads, but the sublimation ink used in Ricoh printers is gel-based. The ink flows more smoothly, therefore you’ll experience less clogging (if any). Although there are no bulk hookups for these printers, they are able to house a much larger cartridge size over its Epson friends.

There are also floor models on the market that are still considered smaller format (under 24”) and can run rolls of paper. Then you get into the wide format equipment, which is a whole other blog in its own. Heck, maybe we will see a wide format blog in the upcoming future!

Some CONS are, sublimation is a bad idea if you need to do dark garments! The only way to get a sublimation image onto a colored garment is if the image (ink you’re laying down) is darker than the color of the shirt. For instance, you can do black images or prints on red garments, orange, yellow, pink, blue… (make sense?)

Another downside is if you’re wanting to use a cheap ole’ shirt – nix that idea. Sublimation requires 100% polyester to get the best image and the best washability possible!

The PRO about sublimation is that it is a permanent image on your substrate! What can get better than this? No washing away, fading or cracking to worry about!

The post Tracy Takes On…“I’m Confused, Tell me What I Need?” Part IV appeared first on Blogging with Coastal – Transfer Paper, Sublimation, Heat Press, Vinyl and More!.

A Quick Review of Summer’s Hot New Products

It’s been a very busy summer here at Coastal. In between all of the tradeshows and the construction of our brand new demonstration room (it’s almost done!), we’ve introduced an abundance of new products and equipment that you may have missed. Here are just a few of our favorite hot new products:

Sippy cups – Every parent will LOVE the chance to create a personalized sippy cup for their child. Add the child’s name, a special photo or a personalized design – this will be the hit of the playground! Plus, our sippy cups come in three different vibrant colors.

Mug Master Pro – We carried the Mug King mug press for many years, but recently realized it was time to offer something that is multi-functional and allows our customers to get more bang for their buck. The Mug Master Pro mug press (priced similarly to the Mug King) includes additional attachments that allow you to press not only regular 11 oz sublimation mugs, but 15 oz mugs, 12 oz latte mugs and 17 oz latte mugs. This is the MUST-HAVE mug press for anyone looking to explore or expand a mug-making business. Continue reading “A Quick Review of Summer’s Hot New Products”