Printwear Shop Tuneup Review and Sublimation Operating Costs

Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. Terry and Aaron will have a conversation with Erich Campbell from Black Duck Embroidery and Screen Printing on his recent Printwear Shop Tune Up visit with It Takes A Stitch! On the second half of the show, we’ll dig into the startup costs and sublimation operating costs of both small format and large format sublimation printing.

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Other Items

  • Aaron is working on some Training Stuff
  • Aaron also working with a Contract Decorator – www.picthegift.com
  • Terry heading out early Tuesday for Long Beach NBM

Printwear Shop Tuneup Review

Aaron: Tell us about the company you just visited. Who are they, and where did you travel? [It Takes a Stitch in Arlington, VA – owner Regina Cassidy | home-based shop (mention hobbyist/small shop trajectory & demographic)]

Terry: What was the process you went through there? It was a weeklong visit, correct? [Initial Questionnaire / (mention Regina’s To Do list), analysis, themed days with flexibility, follow-up, and networking (mention meetup)]

Aaron: Without stepping on the upcoming Printwear article, share with our listeners just a couple of things you helped them improve. [(Mention Regina’s existing skill set and preparation) Focus! (tell brief product story) Sharing/selling (show the work you want to do) Time Management (mention learning and bus.dev.) Emphasis on focus!]

Terry: When will we see the article, Erich? [Printwear September, watch out for video content, interviews, pics, and more online at printwearmag.com]

Aaron: Thanks for giving us an early sneak peek, Erich. Tell our listeners how to find you. [First thank sponsors of Tune-Up – then – Erich Campbell on almost any social media stream including FB, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and LinkedIn – I even do some exclusive posts for LinkedIn, but failing all of that, you can always catch my latest blog post or find links to my profiles at Erichcampbell.com]

Sublimation Operating Costs

Terry: Let’s start with a comparison of the costs involved in setting up a small format sublimation business and a large format sublimation operation.

Aaron: Reminder: I no longer have a dog in the fight so my plan here is to talk openly and name names. Plenty of great folks to work with out there and no longer do I care who that is.

Small Format – $1,000 to about $4,000 is all you need to be a professional sublimator.
SG400 or SG800, Heat Press, and Accessories

In Between – VJ628 – Fits a small niche in my opinion, but it is versatile and I’m excited to see what they do with the platform. Cost is high ($5,000 to $6,000 and $500 liter ink) but it is 8 colors, can really do well with photos (high-profit margins, picky customers) and future fluorescents and other options coming like Orange and Blue.

Large Format – $7,000 to $30,000 if you include the press
Mutoh, Epson, Roland or Mimaki
Heat Press – (Don’t need a wide format press necessarily) Hix, Geo Knight
RIP software and Install / Color Profiles

Terry: The flip side now is the cost comparison on the production end.

  • Post on the Facebook Groups about 5 in 1 presses, EBay Printers and Inks – What does it really cost you? If it is a hobby, fine, but please do not sell to people and give sublimation a black eye. Define a professional sublimator – understand that some do it as a hobby, but lots of times they are saying that they have a job to do and are trying to decide what printer and ink to buy.
  • Having the color correction and support to actually be making money with your system is important. We are at the point where all you have to do is follow instructions and you can be a sublimator. The trial and error part is done for you, but you must invest in the right equipment up front.
  • Breaking down the costs of production – $0.25 SqFt for Large format v $4.00 SqFt for Small Format
  • Only need to print 2,000 SqFt to pay for the cost of the wide-format sublimation printer
    • The printer comes with enough ink to print 2,600 SqFt – Buy 2 rolls of paper (each = about 1,100 square feet) and you have pretty much paid for the printer after printing those 3 rolls in ink cost savings alone.
  • Leasing is a great way to get into large format without having to come up with $30,000 up front.

Aaron’s recent Blog Post

Chat Log:

KristineShreve: We have a lot of customers who started out as hobbyists and built the hobby into a business. It’s fun to watch the businesses grow over time.
2 Regular Guys Talking Decoration: Those are great people to work with.
KristineShreve: Definitely interested in learning and interested in growing. Small businesses seem to be more open to trying new things sometimes.
KristineShreve: Wish I could have been at the meet-up.
KristineShreve: Hard truths are tough to hear and to speak. I run into that with my social media seminars. People hate to hear they aren’t doing things correctly, but it necessary for them to hear if they’re going to fix things.
KristineShreve: Too funny, I just wrote an article for Printwear about shop organization.
KristineShreve: “Share the work you want to do” – great advice!
ErichCampbell: The hobbyists are really awesome to work with. 🙂 So creative!
ErichCampbell: I wish you could have been there too, Kristine!
ErichCampbell: The hard truths are really ough, but I’m glad I was there and nicer than some of the folks who do consulting; sometimes a softer approach to hard truths is useful.
ErichCampbell: I can’t wait to read your shop article- it’s something people really struggle with.
KristineShreve: The shop organization article was fun. I had to read some organizational theory to put it together. Very interesting.
ErichCampbell: I have to admit, the ‘Show the work you want to do’ tip comes from the graphic design side of my interests and is massively touted by Sean McCabe of Seanwes.com
ErichCampbell: He helped me get that one in my head.
ErichCampbell: Love my sg800!
ErichCampbell: I have the bypass; just nice.
ErichCampbell: Easy to take care of in this dry climate.
KristineShreve: The 400 and the 800 are both good printers. Every one of our customers who has bought one has had good luck with it .
KristineShreve: So true, a quality heat press makes so much difference.
ErichCampbell: Oh, yeah. We have had both cheap and expensive, and the expensive heat press was a world better.
KristineShreve: Our parent company uses George Knight presses and we’ve had some in service for a decade and they still work great. That’s why EnMart sells them.
ErichCampbell: Nice.
ErichCampbell: That’s what we are struggling with. We want to get into all-over, but it’s a big investment.
ErichCampbell: Another huge thing- people use 100% K blacks in their art and they print gray on most setups; I like to use a rich black- search for ‘Designer black’ if I’m working CMYK and otherwise, I’m using spots from the Sawgrass system.

Trade Shows

Other News/Events

Terry’s Books

Screen Printing: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Direct to Garment: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Scheduling and Estimating Production Time for Garment Screen Printing Just $2.99 as an e-book


Equipment ZoneThis show is brought to you for a full hour by: Equipment Zone, with 20 years experience selling garment printing equipment nationwide. Equipment Zone offers the new Epson F2000 SureColor direct-to-garment printer, their own VelociJet-XL DTG printer, and the all new SpeedTreater-TX automatic pretreat machine with a full 16”x24” pretreat area. Introductory price is $3,995. Equipment Zone also carries a full line of DTG inks and supplies. Go to EquipmentZone.com


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