Custom printing has been around for a very, very long time! But there was once a time when it was only used by big corporations to promote a particular product or business, and 'screen printing' was the process of choice.
However NOW you have the choice... 'dtg', 'oki-laser', 'pad printing', 'screen printing', 'htv', 'inkjet transfers', or DYE SUBLIMATION.
Each of these have their own purpose, uses and benefits - But Sublimation is 'TAKING OVER' (but with it's own restrictions).
sublimation does not require any setup of screens, although some printers may still choose to charge for time in creating the computer artwork required. * As the name suggests, this process is DYED into the item selected, and so it becomes impossible for your print to crack or peel. Now this all sounds great, and opens up a whole load of possibilities of computer generated artwork and personalised items (easycustoms.com the display of items seen here is never complete), there are however certain constraints that do limit the item that can be custom printed. These dyes are specifically formulated to react and permanently bond with polymers (Not just polyester!). Now that said... polymers is a 'man-made' product, and as such can be manipulated either during manufacture or after with addition of other chemicals or processes. to explain:- By looking at the makeup of a material/product we can increase the amount of products available to print into, by particularly looking for polymers of 50%+ of the total item in question. So now we see items such as lycra, nylon, leather, canvas, becoming possible. The other thing that needs to be considered is the base colour of the item... ie we can not dye an image into an item that is black (dark in colour) since the dye will not be able to be seen, and this original item colour will show through your printed design. Again as with all 'rules' exceptions can be made. One way is to apply a polymer chemical coating to the surface of an item, thereby allowing dye sublimation of a design possible. The other is to use a poly product and apply this with design onto an item. These alternatives, whilst still use the dyes of sublimation does mean that your design will ultimately be applied to the surface of the item and not dyed INTO it. We still have another 'restriction' to consider when choosing sublimation, and that is "How many items would you like?" unlike screen printing, where one design is created and used for as many as you like, with sublimation we do have to print the number of prints to match the quantity of items required. So then because of this sublimation is not the choice if wanting 300 or 10,0000+, hence why screen printing was so popular with the corporate industry BUT does now allow the smaller businesses, groups and clubs, along with individuals to enter the world of having their name in print. Paul Griffiths - The Laughing Professor.
equipment required for the dye sublimation process:-
(15 inch swing) Heat press,
inkjet printer - (But not the inks) epson is popular, but my view is to get a printer designated for the sublimation dyes that’ll be going through it. ie virtuoso SG400 or SG800.
kapton heat Tape here
paper - TexprintR 14inch here