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Steal These Ideas to Make Custom Sublimated Products Your Customers Will Love

Do you have a laser and sublimation equipment? With inspiration and creativity, there is no limit to what you can create using this substrate. The question to ask is whether you can sell the product you’re creating. I’ll get to that. Here are five ideas.

Steal These Ideas to Make Custom Sublimated Products Your Customers Will Love



I love to tinker and build things. I have a garage full of halffinished projects to prove it. Just ask my wife, Lura, about the washing machine motor I’m turning into a belt sander, the motorized bike trailer with no miles on it, and the 1958 camper trailer that needs a table, a bench seat, and wheels.

Someday all these projects will come to fruition.

However, these half-baked projects do not stop me from coming up with more ideas and projects. For instance, I was recently looking at a Popular Mechanics site and found free plans to make an Adirondack chair (my new summer project). At about the same time, I was purchasing a new iPhone, and that got my noodle brewing.

I wondered if I could modify the chair plans to make a miniature Adirondack chair/phone charging station. I decided to try. Using Unisub sublimation hardboard as my substrate, I created the result in FIGURE A. This could work as a promotional product, a souvenir, or a gift.

After I finished this project, Lura informed me that she had seen something similar on Pinterest and reminded me that we are scheduled to go camping this summer, so I should focus on finishing the camper.

She was partially right (I said only in my head). I did need to finish the camper, and there were miniature chairs everywhere online, but none were sublimatable! From that project, I started to think of other ideas for the sublimation hardboard—ideas I will pass along to you.

Do you have a laser and sublimation equipment? With inspiration and creativity, there is no limit to what you can create using this substrate. The question to ask is whether you can sell the product you’re creating. I’ll get to that.





Five Ideas

  1. The Adirondack chair was easy, because the PDF I downloaded from Popular Mechanics opened in CorelDRAW. The PDF file design plans were in vector format, which meant I just had to join a couple of the pieces together using the weld tool and make some slots in places that would otherwise need screws in a life-sized chair (FIGURE B).

    CorelDRAW hint: To join two vector objects together, select both objects and click on the weld tool (FIGURE C). FIGURE B shows the Popular Mechanics graphics and the graphic created after welding the two together.

    Then I picked a photo and Powerclipped the image into my chair pieces along with a logo I created.

    CorelDRAW hint: To Powerclip an image into a closed vector graphic, select the image and go to Object>Powerclip>Place inside frame. Next, click on the vector graphic (FIGURE D). In CorelDRAW versions X6 and earlier, the Powerclip option is in the Effects menu.

  2. My next idea was the tangram (FIGURE E), an ancient Chinese puzzle made of seven shapes that can be used to create thousands of different recognizable objects (FIGURE F). In a restaurant, this puzzle can entertain fidgety children who are tired of the usual crayons and coloring pages while doing double duty as a great promotional item for the restaurant.

  3. Another idea was also restaurant themed (FIGURE G). Placed on a counter or table, the miniature sandwich board doubles as a menu. After lasering and sublimating this product, I drilled a couple holes and added a hinge and chain to complete the effect.

    Need another retail idea? Custom-shaped name badges can go just about anywhere (FIGURE H). Do you have a car repair client? Turn this into a wrench. For the tennis coach, make a racquet. For the dentist, a tooth. You get the idea.

  4. Next idea: The custom easel that holds a cell phone, notepad or, in this case, my calculator (FIGURE I). The key to making this product functional was the simple hinge at the back (FIGURE J). The key to making a good promotional item is the artwork you or your customer create.

  5. The last product in my lineup is custom game pieces (FIGURE K). I know what you’re thinking. How is this product going to sell? To be honest, I’m not 100% certain. I just thought it was fun to do. I can tell you, however, that I have seen less creative products sold online. For example, go online to find for real marketing genius with minimal effort and thought. This product is no more than what it sounds like—your message written with a Sharpie on a potato and sent to the address of your choice. This product makes real money. And the creator of this idea spends that real money anyway he or she wishes. So can custom game pieces be a thing? Yes.








Selling Your Idea

This brings me to my next subject: who and where to go to with these products? Though you should always make a sample of your good idea for customers to see and feel, don’t wait for the customer to come to you. Check out one of the many e-commerce sites for creative DIYers like yourself.

One of the more popular sites crafty people use is Etsy. ( While some of the items on this site are created by hobbyists, there are many users making this their fulltime jobs, and many of our products are found on this website. The best part is that you don’t have to create a website and find a way to drive traffic there. The site and audience are already there for you to sign up and upload your next great idea.

When you get inspired to create something new and are looking to expand your offerings to your customers, check out what other creative people are doing for inspiration. To see what is trending among creative doers, browse through trade, art, and DIY magazines such as Make, How, Communication Arts and, of course, Insights.

Other e-commerce sites to upload to or find inspiration from include Café Press, Zazzle, ArtFire, Cargoh, Foodzie, Yokaboo, Free Craft Fair, and Ebay. Even Amazon is adding a section for handmade products.

For more information about these products—or a timely update on my camper—contact me at shonr@jdsindustries. com.

Good luck with your future sublimation hardboard creations!

Shon Roti is a sublimation specialist at JDS Industries, Inc. He has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Sioux Falls with an emphasis in graphic design. He can be contacted at JDS Industries is a leading supplier in the recognition and sublimation markets. For more on JDS Industries, visit www.

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