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Breaking Down Sublimation Printing for Embroidery Businesses

For active embroidery businesses, sublimation can be the perfect tool for achieving growth. With ambitious designs, achieving significant details may seem out of reach with only embroidery. Sublimation is the answer for those seeking a high level of detail and vibrancy. This technology captures full detail from pictures of people, vehicles, or pets to simply adding color and designs to existing embroidery. You can use it on apparel, such as shirts, hats, and patches. This will improve current embroidery projects and can also open the door to new markets. Sublimation could mean entering the patch market, creating t-shirts, and even customizing hard surface items. This opens the door for the opportunity to make even more money.

Let’s walk through the basics of sublimation printing for embroidery businesses. We’ll break down basic questions about sublimation, and along the way, we’ll cover a popular embroidery sublimation project: sublimating an embroidered hat.

What is Sublimation?

If you’re reading this article, it’s because you already have an embroidery business, so sublimation is the new technique to learn. Sublimation is a process that involves heat-pressing a design at very high temperatures onto a substrate. Whether applying to apparel or hard surfaces, sublimation also requires special blanks for the best results. Most sublimation blanks are either 100% polyester or have a special material coating. The high temperatures of the heat press cause the sublimation inks to bond with the surface, providing an incredibly soft hand feel and creating a durable and vibrant design.

Looking for more answers on Sublimation? Here are the Top 10 Questions:

What Do I Need to Sublimate?

The most important tool for sublimation is a proper sublimation printer. An industry-standard option is the Sawgrass SG1000. This printer resembles a traditional inkjet printer in size and space requirements. The Sawgrass SG1000 has standard print sizes up to a maximum of 11 inches x 17 inches. You can expand the print size up to 13 inches x 51 inches by using the extra bypass tray. Sublimation printers not only have flexible space requirements, but they also have consistent printing results. These factors mean that any business can accommodate a sublimation printer.

Now, the great unifying item between embroidery and sublimation is the thread. Sublimation requires 100% polyester material or specialty-treated blanks. Luckily, many embroidery threads, like the ROYAL thread line, are perfect. These thread brands are 100% polyester, meaning they are already ready to sublimate. That makes sublimation achievable with most embroidery projects.

This is an example of sublimated flat embroidery:

An example of sublimated puff embroidery:

What Should I Look Out for with Sublimation?

Most embroidery sublimation occurs on hats and patches. Often, hats are sublimation-ready, but there are things to consider. For example, using light-colored hats can cause staining with sublimation. It is best to use dark-colored hats and embroider the design with white or light-colored thread. Then, follow this up by pressing the sublimation design onto the white or light thread to introduce your design colors. This will provide the best overall vibrancy and avoid any difficulties that could prevent products from selling.

Another thing to decide when planning out a job is what method of embroidery to use. For example, one sublimation project shown above uses puff embroidery. Puff embroidery creates elevated details that emulate a “3D” effect. With sublimation, the design will only apply to the tallest layer. At the same time, excessive pressure may flatten the design, diminishing its effect, so make sure that any pressure settings are properly calibrated for the material.

Steps to Sublimate a Puff Embroidery Hat

Business Tips for Sublimation Embroidery:

Pairing sublimation with embroidery will help offer solutions where embroidery alone might be limited. Together, they offer a multitude of other profitable opportunities, making it an easy business decision. One such opportunity is offering customized hats that use sublimated photos as part of the design. Consider creating patches with a sublimation portrait and an embroidered monogram. Embroider silhouettes on a shirt and then sublimate the full image and details. All these business ideas effortlessly balance the capabilities of sublimation and embroidery.

These are only a few of the ways that sublimation can help an embroidery business. With this versatility, there is an opportunity to also elevate your profits. Embroidered patches can retail from $7 to $12, depending on the complexity of the design. A sublimated embroidered patch can leap to the top of that price range with the right design. With the right artwork to sublimate, the finished product can earn premium status. Find unique designs that have colors that complement the fabric used and work well with sublimation. Use high-quality materials when sewing out designs. Customers will see original designs, unlike anything else they have seen, and be impressed by the overall quality.

Sublimation can be a pivotal element of an embroidery business. Using this technology, there are ample business opportunities available. Elevating embroidery work with sublimation creates a premium product that will make more money. It also can be the pathway to a whole new market, outside the world of embroidery. The space requirements are minimal, and the printing process is simple. With so many applications and added profit potential, it is easy for any business to adopt sublimation.

Want to learn more about sublimation and printers, like the Sawgrass SG-1000? Live chat with us or call us at 877-793-3278.