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Pros and Cons of All-Over Apparel Sublimation

Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of all-over apparel sublimation. 

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Let’s get a few of the disadvantages out of the way as the advantages far outweigh.

COST

The first disadvantage for many shops that might want to get into all-over sublimation can be the cost of the equipment. You are going to need a 44-inch (or larger) printer which can cost you anywhere between $6,000 to $8,000. Then you must have a 44-inch by 64-inch heat press to be able to press most size garment all over, and that can cost between $15,000 to $30,000 minimum. That is a significant investment on top of a little bit of a learning curve if you don’t get help from your supplier because you went as cheap as possible. Now, many people will lease the equipment which is a great option, or better yet partner with a contract wholesaler while they build their all-over shirt market.

SMILES

The other disadvantage to all over sublimation is dealing with the “smiles.” A smile is a small blemish or a fold in the presewn shirt that is more prevalent around the collar and under the arms of the shirt. Because of these smiles, dark solid all-over prints can be challenging. Using the right shirt that lays flat is critical. You can also overcome this issue by designing them into the artwork with softer, lighter sections under the arms and around the collar. Your other option is to create cut and sew garments when you decorate the pieces of the shirt and then have them sewn together after the fact.

Now the advantages!

PROFIT MARGIN

The most significant advantage for me is the profit margin. If you are a traditional apparel decorator, you might be used to trading nickels so to speak. That is not the case with sublimation. Because of the perceived value in an all-over print, you can make a garment for $7 to $10 and sell it for $30 to $60 or even more. Tim Williams from the YR Store says can sell all-over printed garments for up to $150 many times. It doesn’t take a lot of $150 shirts (that cost you $10 to make) to realize a nice profit for a day’s work.

MARKET POTENTIAL

The all-over print is an extremely sought after look in a lot of markets, from fishing and bowling to volleyball and lacrosse. High fashion, mixed martial arts, clue scene garments and many more are looking for something outside of the one to two color cotton T. All-over printing also allows you to tackle the dark-garment sublimation conundrum. You start with your white fabric and make it any color you want. By having all-over/wide-format sublimation capabilities, you also open up a whole new world of possibilities for your decorating business: towels, blankets, signage, flags, etc. Plus =, you can turn out more production than you could with a 16″ X 20″ heat press.

CONSUMABLES

And last but not least, you significantly reduce your consumable costs. If you are a small-format sublimator, you are most likely paying about $70 for a 30ml ink cartridge. That is about $2.30 per ml. A typical sublimation transfer uses about 1.5ml of ink per square foot, so you have about $3.75 per square foot of ink and paper cost (assuming the paper is about $.25 per square foot). This is compared to large-format sublimation, where you are paying approximately $0.15 per ml of ink. Your total cost is now less than $0.50 per square foot.

Aaron Montgomery 2019

Aaron Montgomery

Aaron Montgomery is the co-founder of OurSuccessGroup.com. Its goal is to help 1,000+ businesses in 2020 reach their idea of success through training, community, and accountability. Aaron has 25+ years of experience with personalized products and small business development. You can also find Aaron co-hosting 2 Regular Guys podcast (www.2regularguys.com) He also has his own podcast channel and produces weekly live videos called Small Business Saturdays Series. New episodes are released smallbusinesssaturdayspodcast.com.

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