Dye-Sublimation: Low Cost, High Value
Bob Donahue knows how to make a good thing even better. When an external nonprofit customer wanted Franklin University Mail & Print Services to use its dye-sublimation equipment to produce an order of coffee mugs featuring the company’s logo to give as gifts, Donahue, director of purchasing at the Columbus, Ohio, university, suggested creating matching coasters and putting them in a gift box. Some of the mugs were even personalized with the names of the executive team members. The customer has now extended its partnership with the shop and is sending it even more business.
This is a vote of confidence for Donahue and his decision to install a 24˝ sublimation printer, a 25x20˝ flatbed press, a single-station mug press, a five-station mug press and a baseball cap press, all from ImprintsUSA, in the summer of 2016.
Besides mugs, the shop can produce baseball caps, coated aluminum plates, fiber-reinforced plastic with cork back coasters, nameplates, name badges (plastic or metal), bookmarks, license plate brackets, clock faces, plates and glassware.
Donahue says that the equipment lends itself to a small quantity of items with a fairly low cost of entry, and only a small learning curve to get the equipment up and running.
“There is a lot of support from suppliers of blanks to the supplier of the equipment. You just have to figure out the heat and time for each piece,” he says. “As far as getting artwork ready, you need to know how to design, and you need to make sure you’re getting extremely hi-res files. The better the file, the more likely that you’re going to have a good-looking end product. All you’re doing is a digital reversal; you’re not doing any major setup work.”
And although Donahue says he would recommend dye-sublimation to any in-plant as a way to open up some value-added services, there is one consideration to make before adding the equipment.
“From my point of view, it’s a simple process to set up. The biggest hurdle you’re going to have to jump is getting power on a larger press,” he points out. “The 25˝ press, like I have, is 220-volt, so you’re going to have to have that power available. The rest of the equipment is 110, so you plug it in and go. That’s the most difficult part, getting the wiring set up.”
Related story: Volume Jump Brings Expansion for Ohio In-plant