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Sublimation has been a revolutionary development for imprinting personalized products. Dye-sublimation printing originated in the 1950s, but has only become widely used in recent years as computers became standard equipment and technology costs decreased.

Among the many products JDS offers that are perfect for personalization, cutting boards have been an amazing option for customers to engrave and personalize for their own clients. The downside of many engravable products is that they usually are made only for that purpose and not for specific printing processes to add multiple colors—and although there are many options out there for this purpose, most of them are not cheap.

I’ve often wondered how it happens. How does a person or business become known for specializing in a particular product or service? Does the idea come from within, or the consumer? Is it random, or does it occur by a more organic nature? And the most important question: Can a decent living be made through a niche profession? As always, I think the answers are many and the road to a niche is a winding one.

Where’s the beef? It’s in this very beefy project that, among other things, will detail a process for creating table tents with call numbers on them like those used by many fast-food locations.

Large franchise operations order these by the millions at a super cheap price, but smaller, local establishments often require quantities that can be profitable for laser owners, UV printers, sublimators, and other smaller-run personalization professionals.

There are so many options for gift giving using sublimation. Although it soon will be the holiday season, with the versatility and ease of sublimation, you can encourage customers to give personalized gifts for any occasion. After all, what better to bring to a housewarming party then a personalized color-themed gift box?

I tried out this impressive dye-sub trend with gorgeous results. Luckily, I took photos along the way to ensure you could try it, too! With this step-by-step guide to dye sublimation, all you need is your imagination.

When the Awards and Personalization Association heard about a new sublimation product that debuted in October, we wanted to know more. JDS Industries is the distributor for SubTHAT!, so we spoke with Sublimation Specialist Colin VanLint to find out more about the new product—and to see how the process works.

In the first half of this article in the October issue of Insights, I explained that customers want to be able to give you the words or art they need and expect you to “make it look cool.”

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.

Those of you that are order-takers for your business have probably heard this from your customers, “If I give you our logo and the verbiage, can you put it on a plaque and make it look cool?”

Dye sublimation is a great process to print on a wide selection of materials: plastic, ceramic, polyester T-shirts—and our favorite substrate, metal! Although the process of sublimating on metal versus other materials is similar, there are a few key things to keep in mind to make your sublimation pop on this substrate.

All the sublimation terms you need to know—and a few you may not even have known existed.

Many customers have heard me say this about sublimation, “It takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.” Now, I cannot be 100% sure that it takes a lifetime to master because I’ve not yet reached the end of my life, thankfully. To be sure, when I do get to the end, I won’t be worrying whether that statement rings true or not. By “lifetime to master,” I simply mean that sublimation, as a digital heat transfer process, continues to evolve. As printer technologies advance, there will be lessons to be learned.
Some substrates—like ceramic and polyester—are natural canvases for sublimation. Other materials, like metal panels, are sold with special coatings to accept sublimation. Despite consumers loving the natural look of wood, sublimation-ready wooden blanks were not readily available until recently. Now, specially formulated coatings enable sublimators to print on natural wood surfaces. Retailers are seeing a lot of new sublimatable wood products available, from panels to frames.
When it comes to fashion, my age and Midwestern roots keep me behind the trends. I rely on my wife’s sense of style to help keep me in current clothing—within a decade or so. It is difficult, however, not to notice the ever-increasing trend for customized accessories. Personalized items are becoming more the rule than the exception. And when the weather turns cold, there are still sublimation options for customization!
How fortunate are we to make and sell products that inherently, and without nudging, stir deep emotion within our customers? The average marketing executive who struggles each day to stir up consumer devotion to, say, a kitchen device or an athletic shoe must regard feel-good awards and personalization products as the golden egg of advertising just for having that intrinsic hold on customers.
If you’re not already doing it, you’re eager to make the plunge. A survey of Recognition Review readers showed just how popular sublimation has proven. Many are using sublimation now, and many more hope to get into sublimation soon.
Learn how to sublimate fishing lures like a pro from Johnson Plastics (from the February 2015 issue of Rec Review)
Awards and Personalization Association

The Awards and Personalization Association is the organization for retailers and suppliers of personalized and customized items. By providing education, meetings, and access to a vibrant network of professionals, the Awards and Personalization Association is the one place to ensure the growth of your talent, your business, and your professional community.

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