Preparing to Become a Dye Sublimation Display Printer – What Do I Need to Know

Question: Could you recommend a sublimation printer?

Answer: No. I post these Q & A articles on sites that won’t allow me to use brand names or shamelessly self-promote our company, so I have to tread lightly. However, I can tell you how we shop for equipment like dye sub printers.

First, determine your market. Do you need a 2.1 meter width printer, or a 3.2 meter. What is available? What do your clients need most consistently? If you know that most of your clients order dye sub fabric banners that are 8 feet wide or tall, then a wider printer may be a better investment. If you’re purchasing a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th unit, and you know that you have a lot of waste on your larger printers, you may need a smaller printer.

Next, we want to see our prospective printer in action. If you have a trusted rep at one company or more that can take you to some print shops that print with one of the printers or more that they sell.

If you can, talk to the press operator or the head of the printing department about the pros and cons of the equipment you’re looking at. You may find that he or she might prefer a dye sublimation printer that the rep who sent you there does not sell.

The more information we can gather, the better. It is best not to be in a hurry to purchase major equipment such as a dye sub printer, but take your time and research as much as possible before making a major purchase.

Also, if you are new and just getting into dye sublimation fabric printing, you may want to do some market research. Who are your clients? Are they currently purchasing dye sub cloth banners? If so, from whom, at for how much per square foot. Is there growing offshore competition driving pricing down?

What about government regulations? Have you factored in waste fees? You can never ask too many questions or do too much research. Unless you are the type who can’t make a decision. Ever. Then you have other issues. I don’t deal with those. Sorry.

Question: We’re just getting started with dye sublimation banner printing – what do we need?

Answer: Well, the obvious answer here is a dye sub printer. I know, my wife says the same thing!

Above I talked about how to shop for a dye sub printers, so I won’t rehash that question, but there are a few more items you need to examine.

Your facility. Where will you put the new printer? What is the footprint of the printer? How much space do you need on each side of the printer? Venting is also important. How is your shop ventilated? Do you need more general ventilation added, or a specific vent added for the new unit?

You also need to know what you need for peripheral tasks. How many more persons will you need to add to your staff for the new printer? You’ll be asked to sew fabric dye sub banners in various ways, with pole pockets, as tubes, as squares, etc., as well has hemming and grommeting. Grommeting by hand is doable, but a pneumatic grommeter is much faster, but they don’t give them away either.

If you’ve made the decision to purchase a printer, you’ll need to choose what polyester fabrics you’ll want to stock, and what size rolls. Hopefully, you’ve had enough experience to be able to know which fabrics are going to move the fastest, print the simplest, and give you the best margins.

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