Why Quality Matters with Sublimation

Posted: 8/27/2018

One reason that sublimated products are so popular is that sublimation produces vibrant colours and high-resolution images. The quality of a sublimated product will stop people in their tracks, warm hearts and make memories that last a lifetime.

When you sell a sublimated product, you might be selling something that will help build a business, bring people together or memorialise someone who is no longer with their loved ones.

When you compete in this kind of market, the print quality is one of the most crucial aspects of your business. As such, the quality of your inks, printer, paper and other products used in production determines the quality of your final images and the health of your business.

Quality In, Quality Out

Sublimation decoration is influenced by many variables. These variables include things like the ink purity and concentration of dye solids, the ability of colour management software to accurately convert colours, the engineering of your printer and how it manages sublimation ink, the retention and release of dye by your transfer paper, and the quality of your substrate – all of these factors play an important role in the quality of your final prints.

Three years ago, Sawgrass developed the Virtuoso HD Product Decorating System – a fully integrated sublimation system, with all components designed to work together and deliver the highest quality prints. The Virtuoso system makes sublimation decoration easier, whilst increasing the overall quality of print output, and sets the gold standard for ink quality and purity in the industry.

The Virtuoso system offers the only printers designed to work with sublimation ink, uses closed cartridges of ink with a high density of dye solids for deep coloration, and includes a custom print driver developed to optimise ink spend, colour accuracy and print quality. Until the launch of the Virtuoso HD Product Decorating System, the industry standard for sublimation production was to use aftermarket inks with office printers and ICC profiles for colour management.

Alternative aftermarket systems present many challenges because the printers were never meant to have highly viscous ink running through the internal components. Additionally, open ink systems with refillable cartridges or continuous ink supply systems (CISS) systems introduce air and contaminants into printers, causing issues such as printer damage and failure. Finally, aftermarket inks and ICC profiles (when available) have vast limitations in terms of colour output and accuracy.

In the end, aftermarket systems cause dye sublimation product decorators to waste precious printing and pressing time troubleshooting clogs, banding, poor quality images, stray ink on the page and colour issues. Product decorators often must replace printers and run through their ink more quickly. In summary, the quality of their experience with aftermarket systems costs more money than the price of printers and ink.

Though aftermarket systems are still on the market today, Sawgrass’ Virtuoso HD Product Decorating System offers a trouble-free, higher quality solution. The Virtuoso solution is the one system fits all your sublimation quality needs.

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Full Integration Means Quality

All components of the Virtuoso system are designed to work together to produce the best possible prints for the least amount of cost. Both the printers and SubliJet-HD ink sets have been engineered specifically for this purpose.

Virtuoso Print Manger (VPM), the custom print driver and colour management software included with the Virtuoso solution, adds to this synergy. Virtuoso Print Manager is the next generation of PowerDriver – our original print driver for Ricoh printers – and is designed to manage colour based on the specific characteristics of both the printer and the ink set. VPM also compensates for colour shifts that normally occur during the printing process.

VPM’s colour profiles and spot colour matching capabilities match what the printer and ink can produce because the programming is specific to the system. VPM, combined with all the other components of the Virtuoso solution, work together to print faster and save ink, while producing the best colours possible.

Unlike with ICC profiles alone, VPM allows you to specify the type of substrate and paper you are using, for even greater print accuracy. Aftermarket printers and inks do not offer this level of colour accuracy and print management, which often results in wasted prints and substrates.

In addition to high quality printing, Virtuoso HD Product Decorating Systems include access to an online graphic design program specific to sublimation production. CreativeStudio™ is a web-based design program that allows users to choose product templates, print-ready designs or customised design elements, as well as thousands of colours, images, graphics and fonts that allow you to create your own product designs in just minutes.

Without investing thousands in graphic design software and image licenses, you can use CreativeStudio™ to create, print and press quickly and easily. Furthermore, the colours created with CreativeStudio™ – including spot colours - will match those in VPM.

Outside of these tangible components, our fully integrated Virtuoso systems are completely covered by support from Sawgrass. This gives you one place to come for questions, support and service – direct from the company who created each Virtuoso system component. The Technical Support team at Sawgrass is available to help customers with the initial system set-up, with troubleshooting or other question that may arise.

Having a single source for all your technical support needs saves time and keeps you from having to chase down multiple vendors that may or may not be able to help, since using sublimation ink in other aftermarket printers is not what those printers are designed for and may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Most printer manufacturers cannot provide assistance when the recommended inks are not used.

When you invest in a fully integrated sublimation system, you are purchasing more than a printer and ink. You are investing in the quality of the products you offer customers.

Finally, the Virtuoso HD Product Decorating System supports customers even more with a comprehensive education program. The BusinessBuilder library of sales, marketing, business and production videos, webinars and white papers are an invaluable tool for product decorators at all levels of skill.

When you invest in a fully integrated sublimation system, you are purchasing more than a printer and ink. You are investing in the quality of the products you offer customers. With a fully integrated Virtuoso HD Product Decorating system, you get a commercial-grade production system that can act as either a turnkey business or easy add-on to an existing shop.

When you purchase a Virtuoso system, you also gain the advantage of years of research and development, painstaking ink formulation and quality control, solution-specific tools and software, expert support resources and even tools to build your business offered by Sawgrass. The value of all that far surpasses the price tag of the system itself – and aftermarket solutions don’t come close to delivering all that Sawgrass does in one simple solution.