When I was primarily involved with screen printing and direct-to-garment printing, I was a huge proponent of 100% cotton t-shirts. I didn’t think I could ever come to love those polyester shirts. But due to companies like Vapor Apparel, Under Armor, and others, polyester performance wear has started to take hold of me. Now that my days are filled with sublimation inks and vinyl, instead of pretreatment and plastisol, I have been exposed to so much more polyester fabric that I almost feel like I nearly missed the boat. Using digital transfers on performance fabrics is a broad subject, so let’s start by talking about some of the many types of garments that are polyester based and the types of material you can use to decorate those items.
So you have heard of sublimation and maybe your customers are even asking you for sublimated items. Or maybe you are tired of dealing with dye migration or trying to find the right additives or other headaches related to decorating polyester. So you go to the ISS Show and find a sublimation printer and think you are ready. While that is most likely a decent starting point, I’m guessing you invested in a small format printer. In my opinion, about 85% of sublimators are using a small format system and many are doing pretty well. Small format is actually defined in the sublimation industry as any printer under 42” in width. So with all of those people using small format technology, why was I was excited to be asked by Impressions to write about wide-format, roll-to-roll sublimation? Wide Format Sublimation technology is one of those fields in our industry that has some misunderstandings that I would like to expose. Also, I want to share with you some new potential markets with the addition of wide-format roll to roll sublimation equipment.