Nowadays, your options for sublimation ink sets are varied depending on what type of printer you have, which also determines what kinds of prints and products you can offer your customers.
Four-color printers with CMYK ink sets are the standard. They are the backbone of sublimation printing and the only configurations available for desktop sublimation printers (those with maximum media sizes of 8 1/2 by 14 inches and 13 by 19 inches). CMYK is just right for many applications, including photo plaques, apparel, mugs, promotional products, mobile devices, and other popular sublimated products. With the right printer and software, you can deliver dazzling colors and photo quality with these inks.
There are also eight-color printers and ink combinations that deliver more colors than are possible to achieve with CMYK, as well as finer detail and higher definition. These variations each have benefits for different applications and business goals.
Say you are looking to expand into signage and it’s important to offer your customers specific brand colors. Depending on the color you need to match, you may be able to use a CMYK ink set or you may need to look for an eight-color ink set like SubliJet-HD FLEX, which can deliver an expanded gamut of colors. This ink set provides CMYK inks for everyday use, as well as orange and blue inks that expand the range of colors you can achieve, and fluorescent yellow and pink inks.
If you’re an awards shop that is only looking to provide signage pieces smaller than 13 by 19 inches, then a desktop printer with CMYK inks should meet your needs; however, if you have a high volume of such orders, are looking for faster print speeds, or need an increased color range to match logo or organization colors, investing in a 25-inch printer with an ink set, which offers orange and blue cartridges, is a smart move. The addition of these two colors greatly increases the number of colors you can achieve through the sublimation process.
Fluorescent colors add excitement and visibility to tons of products, from shirts, hats, mugs, and bandanas, to banners, plaques, and beyond. Because desktop printers can only accommodate CMYK inks, you can never achieve a true fluorescent with this combination. Actual fluorescent colors need to be added to the configuration and be able to be mixed to create custom fluorescents that pop the way you expect. You also need an ink set that works with an eight-color printer and offers both CMYK as well as fluorescent ink colors.
-Robin Kavanagh, Sawgrass