Signs of the Times - August 2017 - 49
enterprise, one that could stand alone or prosper in the
corner of an existing signshop.
Kathi exampled that she had recently completed a minor
rush job by creating a software graphic and then driving
to Staples to use its paper and print machine to create a
dozen transfer sheets (her shop printer was engaged). She
then returned home to use her shop heat press to sublimate
the images on T-shirts. Chris, adding that white T-shirts
are easiest to print, defined four levels of dye-sublimation
or promotional/personalized printing: home/kiosk, commercial shop, big tin building and large-format, such
as Miller's Pictographics. Chris added that the small
shop drawbacks are slow processes and the resulting
Should your shop invest in production equipment in order
to profitably fabricate and sell dye-sublimation or promotional/personalized products? Think in terms of cash first
because it's foremost in all business-expansion efforts.
Cash flow, misjudged, becomes destructive because flailing projects steal money for supplies, training, time and
attention. No matter the investment, it's all a cash drain
until that new miracle machine reverses its cash outflow
and begins to generate profit. See this turnaround as a
critical hinge point, one that needs planning, accurate
costing and stopwatch timing.
Still, it could be a "son-in-law project." It requires a computer and basic design software to match Kathi's "Staples
shortcut" or you can search the web for heat-transfer images,
the kind with beach scenes or skulls with snakes, like those
you find in Key West's Mallory Square shops. To this, add
that Amazon offers a small, dye-sublimation system heat
press for just a few hundred bucks but, no surprise, an important component is missing: images. A dye-sublimation heat
press without transfer images is a big-ticket tortilla maker.
Consider an opposite track. Several known-brand manufacturing companies offer solidly built, variously sized and
production-ready (benchtop to grand format) dye-sublimation
printers and UV-cure personal/promotional item printers.
Dye-sublimation print machine manufacturers include
Roland, Mimaki, Sawgrass, Brother, Epson, Ricoh and
Stahls. Professional UV-cure promotional/personalized
printers are offered by Roland and Mimaki. All these manufacturer and supplier websites are loaded with information, advice - and teaching. Go there or dye trying.