March 14, 2023
My love affair with sublimation started a few years ago. I bought a CRICUT on a whim, knowing my computer skills might be all right for this, as long as everything is working correctly. I figured if I need help on how to do something, I could search online. There are many websites and forums dedicated to helping people learn how to use vinyl cutters. I became friends with Jenny Maker, who made a career out of helping people like me. Sure enough, after lots of trial and error, I figured out how to use it.
But here is the thing, I am not the biggest fan of vinyl. Loving the look, but not the feel, I researched and learned about sublimation. Sublimation is a great way to achieve a high-quality and durable image. It uses heat to transfer images onto many surfaces, such as fabrics, ceramics, metals, and plastics. Perfect for customization of many items… you can see where this got things started.
At tradeshows, I like to share with customers that these items are hand-pressed. The detail and colour of the image are transferred from the paper onto the product. How does that work? This is where you will find me explaining the process of sublimation. I find it super interesting as there is a true science behind what’s going on.
First, you need to print the image you want using a sublimation printer. The ink in a sublimation printer is different from that of standard inkjet printers. Sublimation ink is both non-toxic and eco-friendly. Inkjet printers also print liquid ink on top of the paper, while sublimation printers infuse the material with ink vapors. When we press an item using high temperatures, the ink transfers onto items without blurring or smudging. In other words, the ink becomes a vapor and attaches to the ‘blank’ product. These items can be exposed to wear and tear or frequent use, as the printed image will stay vibrant and clear for a long period.
So now that I had this new way of printing and pressing, I started finding really cool blanks. There is a whole world out there of creative people sublimating images onto EVERYTHING! So where did we start? Hand towels, then mugs. I needed coasters and pillows. Next, there were oven mitts and magnets, hot potholders, and more. The list of items is truly endless, which is so exciting!
What’s next for the press? Any suggestions?
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