Sublimation Production
Commercial and Advertising Photographer in Charleston, SC Andy Hagedon

Time is money in the sublimation industry. The more units you can make in an hour, the more profit you see. Being able to reduce your downtime is a critical step in optimizing production, which is why Sawgrass is offering some sublimation production advice for getting your shop in prime shape.

“You only make money when you’re pressing products, so you want to minimize the amount of time that heat press is idle,” Lamb said. “Sometimes, all it takes is a little organization and re-arrangement of your workspace to keep your production line running smoothly.”

Lamb recommends a few easy steps for optimizing your production space.

Organize Your Workspace: Whether you have a commercial workshop or a home-based business, organization is essential for efficiency. Make sure you have a staging area stocked with heat tape, scissors and other essentials to reduce the time it takes to affix transfers to substrates. Create a designated cooling area where you can quickly remove your transfers and let your products cool properly. This will allow you to move to preparing the next press. Also set aside space for a packing area with room to work, stocked with pre-prepared boxes and a postage meter, and spend less time shipping and more time selling, printing and pressing.

Reduce Your Waste: Trial and error is a reality of sublimation production. But there are some simple things you can do that will help reduce waste. Don’t stack pressed substrates until they are completely cool, as they can still transfer their color to another substrate. When you remove transfer paper, do so quickly and evenly immediately after the substrate leaves the heat press to prevent ghosting. When working with fabric, use a lint roller to remove any dust, lint or stray fibers before putting on the transfer. This will help avoid having little blue speckles unexpectedly show up on the fabric. Always print images about 1/4-inch/6mm larger than the size of your substrate, which allows a margin of error when aligning everything.

Beware of Hidden Moisture: Sublimation paper and substrates usually have some amount of moisture hiding in them, which doesn’t come out until the heat press is closed. Moisture can cause color shifting, image bleeding and the uneven transfer of solid-filled areas during pressing. To minimize these effects, keep your transfer paper in a sealed, plastic container or store in a cool, dry place to prevent the sheets from absorbing moisture from the air. Use unwaxed butcher paper or plain newsprint paper instead of Teflon sheets, as the paper will better absorb any moisture that is released during pressing. Also, pre-press garments, substrates made of medium density fiberboard (MDF) or neoprene to release hidden moisture before you affix your transfer paper.

You can learn more about essential do’s and don’ts of sublimation production in Sawgrass’ new Complete Guide to Sublimation Success, which will be published in March. For more information, contact Robin Kavanagh at [email protected] or visit