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Sublimation: Dos & Don’ts

Sublimation: Dos & Don’ts main article image
Posted on August 28, 2021 by Katie Jones

When it comes to using your imagination and creativity in the sublimation world, you can either make something great or mediocre. Simply throwing yourself into it sometimes works but knowing the dos and don’ts of sublimation will help ease any hiccups along the way. It will help you create projects faster, streamline your productivity and allow you to learn more sublimation. Here are some general dos and don’ts of sublimation.

Do Your Homework First

Sublimation is vastly different from other printing methods and especially when it comes to creating artwork. Most sublimation is used for creating clothing pieces such as t-shirts, socks, or hats. Not only because of its durability but the possibilities are endless when it comes to creation. How does sublimation work?

It essentially comes down to science, doesn’t it? Now it is time to do your homework. In order for the ink to set to the fabric, your material needs to have a high polyester count. The lower the count, the less your sublimation print will show up. When you sublimate on high polyester count fabric, your design and colors will be vibrant. It is the best way to test your ink’s profile to make sure the colors are correct. You can make adjustments on your computer to achieve the best outcome.

There are several manufacturers that produce high polyester count material and in your experience, you may find some that are better than others. It is important to pay attention to detail when it comes to choosing the correct fabric. It can make the difference between a high-quality piece versus one that is not.

Don’t Set It and Forget It

Sublimation mostly stays the same throughout its process however sometimes various factors come into play and can alter the outcomes. When you first start the sublimation process, you’ll set your machines in certain directions and continue to alter those until you receive the best results. To help get you started, as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to set your heat press to at least 400 degrees. Here is where it can get tricky if you set the temperature and simply forget it

Heat presses vary greatly when it comes to the heat they supply. Sometimes one quadrant of the press will heat faster than the others or vice versa. You may have more pressure on one side than the other. It all depends on how it arrived and how it was manufactured. An important piece of equipment to possess is a digital heat thermometer so that you can accurately determine the temperature your heat press is giving off.

What this digital thermometer will do is allow you to adjust the temperature accordingly. In most cases, if you set your heat press to 400 degrees and think that’s it, you’ll be left with sublimation results that are not the best. Test your heat press and you may find that it runs 10 degrees too hot or cold then continue to practice until you achieve your desired sublimation results.

Do Give Credit Where It Is Due

When you first start your sublimation journey, you may become overwhelmed with the designs and options you are offered. Take a quick search on this website of the word sublimation and you are given 86,614 results just in graphics alone. Websites like Creative Fabrica offer exclusive designs, fonts, and more that you can pick and choose from to make products and crafts. Most of the content provided comes with rights to you as a buyer. Basically, in that, you can make a profit from the item you made without getting into any trouble. It’s a win-win for all!

However, Creative Fabrica isn’t the only way to purchase designs. There are many platforms available, with some that have similar principles and others, not. So, this is an important time to pay attention to what you are viewing and ultimately buying. It is highly frowned upon in the design community to copy other people’s work and claim it as your own. It’s downright stealing and unethical. You want to give credit where it is due so do your due diligence when it comes to purchasing designs and graphics.

This is also a time to get your creative juices flowing if you can’t find something out there that you like. Hire a designer if you feel like you don’t have the chops to create a design! Don’t limit yourself to what is out there – add more to it! You never know if maybe your design idea will be the next viral must-have in the sublimation community.

Don’t Go Broke by Going Cheap

Whether you decide sublimation is a hobby or starting to become a business for you, arming yourself with the right tools and materials from the get-go will help with future success. After speaking with others who sublimate, the number one piece of advice I always hear is…

You’ll end up going broke by going cheap if you always decide to go for the better deal. When you’re first starting out, it can be hard to justify or have the money to buy a more expensive piece of equipment. You have to look at it as an investment if sublimation is something you truly want to do. Buying a high-quality made heat press from a reputable source may be better than buying one off a seller on eBay. 

The same thing can be said about purchasing your printer. If you know printing large or wide designs is what you are wanting to do, then buying the larger, more expensive printer will meet your needs. If you are not able to purchase much equipment at first, there are a lot of places and people you can buy from that supply you with the sublimation print. So, your main focus should be buying a high-quality heat press to start out with because you can order sublimation prints from designers.

Sifting through the dos and don’ts of sublimation doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Keep it simple from the start, keep organized when it comes to designs, and purchase good equipment. Have fun with the process!

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