Setting Up Your Sublimation Shop for Success: Choosing the Right Accessories

supplies for sublimation

Congratulations! You researched tirelessly, pondered, and saved for the perfect sublimation printer. Now that you’re set up and printing, it’s time to extend the life of your products by stocking your workspace with the right accessories! As you shop and watch tutorials, you may have heard terms like heat tape, foam pad, and blow-out paper, mentioned. In this article, we’ll expand on what exactly those products are and why it’s important to invest in them.

Sublimation is a versatile technology and it’s important to stock up on a variety of tools and materials for all the jobs you may create. To be fully prepared, we recommend having the following products on hand in your sublimation space: scissors, heat-resistant tape, sublimation paper, blow-out paper, foam pads, pressing pillows, a weeding tool, heat gloves, and SubliGlaze.

A small, but mighty sublimation accessory, is a good pair of scissors. They’re used for cutting out designs printed on sublimation paper, trimming excess material, and making precise cuts for intricate designs. Invest in a pair of sharp, high-quality scissors to ensure clean and accurate cuts, which are crucial for professional-looking results. We also suggest giving them a designated home and investing in an extra pair so you aren’t spending precious time searching for them each time you need them!

Heat-resistant tape is another must-have sublimation accessory. The purpose of heat-tape is securing your sublimation transfers in place on your sublimation blank. Be sure to purchase special tape that can withstand the high temperatures of the heat press without melting or leaving residue. You may even consider having thick and thin tape options, as sometimes thinner tape works better for soft substrates. A steadily applied transfer is essential for achieving crisp, clear images. Using a heat-resistant tape ensures that your designs stay perfectly aligned and don’t shift during the pressing process, which can cause blurry images or ghosting. In addition to heat-resistant tape, keeping a pair of heat gloves on hand is important for protecting yourself when removing items from heat presses and ovens set at extremely high temperatures.

Although your printer likely came with sublimation paper, it’s good practice to ensure you have a stock of paper in various sizes. This will help you accommodate various projects and reduce waste. As a reminder, sublimation paper is specially coated to hold sublimation ink and release it onto your substrate when heated. Therefore, using high-quality sublimation specific paper is crucial for transferring vibrant and accurate colors to your items. Johnson Plastics Plus sublimation paper is a great option as it works well for both hard and soft substrates and comes in various sizes including mug paper size that can help save time in production.

Shrink sleeves are used for applying pressure to items that are cylindrical and don’t fit in a flat press or mug press. We recommend keeping the most common sleeves on hand as well as a heat gun to apply the heat that ‘shrinks’ them around your substrate. If you have any questions about what sleeve works with your preferred products, refer to the tech tips and downloads tab on the item’s product web page.

Blow-out paper, also known as protective paper, is used to protect your heat press and substrates from excess ink. It has a special coating and absorbs any ink that might bleed out, or off gas, during the transfer process. This absorbent paper prevents ink from staining your press or your future projects. Keeping plenty of blow-out paper on hand helps maintain a clean workspace and prevents cross-contamination of colors. In addition to blowout paper, investing in a Teflon sheet for your press is helpful. Teflon is used when pressing items that may stick to the platen. It’s reusability also makes it an appealing option!

Foam pads and pressing pillows are essential for ensuring even pressure distribution during the heat pressing process. They help compensate for uneven surfaces and seams, ensuring that the heat and pressure are applied uniformly. This is particularly important for items with zippers, buttons, or other protruding features. Using these accessories can significantly improve the quality of your transfers. For your foam pad, we recommend keeping a few sizes on hand and using your scissors to cut down to size when necessary.

A small and often overlooked accessory for your space is a weeding tool. As many sublimation products are sold with a protective masking that can be difficult to peel off, this tool can save you lots of time! A bucket with water is also sometimes preferred for cooling down projects after they’ve been printed.

Lastly, SubliGlaze is a unique product that allows you to coat non-sublimation-ready items, making them suitable for sublimation printing. It expands the range of items you can personalize, including ceramics, glass, and metals that don’t have polyester coating. Using SubliGlaze can open new creative possibilities and diversify the products you offer, making it the perfect accessory for your sublimation supply closet.

subliglaze kit with finished productssubliglaze kit with finished products
Setting Up Your Sublimation Space

Having the right tools and materials is just the first step. Organizing your sublimation space effectively can enhance your workflow and productivity. Here are a few tips for setting up your space.

Ensure you have a large, clean, and flat work surface where you can lay out your materials and work on your projects. If you’ll be using the web to access design software or projects, consider your wi-fi connection. It’s also important to consider the power you’ll need to run your equipment, computer, and heat press. If you’re shopping for a large press, consider talking with an electrician to ensure your space has the power you need to keep up with your creativity.

For maximum efficiency, use shelves, drawers, and containers to keep your tools and materials organized and easily accessible. Label everything clearly to save time when you’re working on projects. Also be mindful of the environment and temperature controls to keep your equipment, inks, and accessories in their best shape. For example, if you’re working in a humid garage, you may want to keep paper and inks in a more regulated area.

Designate a specific area for your heat press, ensuring it’s on a sturdy surface. Keep your heat-resistant tape, blow-out paper, and pressing pillows nearby for convenience. Adding a stand with wheels is also a great idea for ease of movement when needed.

Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated, especially if you’re using products like SubliGlaze or adding paint to a project. Proper ventilation helps maintain a safe and comfortable working environment.

In addition to having a well-equipped sublimation workspace, it's crucial to think about how you present and market your finished products. Creating a dedicated space for photographing your finished items and setting up a mini showroom can significantly enhance your marketing efforts and attract more customers.

Creating a well-lit, dedicated photography space can aid in capturing high-quality images of your products. High-quality photos are vital for online listings, social media, and promotional materials, as they give potential customers a clear and appealing view of what you offer.

Choose a clean, uncluttered background to make your products stand out. Neutral colors like white, gray, or black work well for most items. Consider using a backdrop stand with interchangeable backgrounds to give you flexibility for different products and styles. While smartphone cameras have improved significantly, investing in a good quality DSLR or mirrorless camera can make a big difference. Pair it with a sturdy tripod to avoid blurry photos and keep your shots consistent.

In addition to a photography space, a mini showroom area is an excellent way to display your products in a real-world setting, giving customers a tangible sense of what you offer. It also serves as a powerful marketing tool, both for in-person visitors and in the background of your product photos and videos. You can also create a backstock of commonly used products so you don’t keep customers waiting!

Having a well-equipped and organized sublimation space is key to producing high-quality, professional results. By keeping essential products on hand, you’ll be prepared for a wide range of projects, reduce challenges, and increase efficiency in your sublimation business.

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