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11 Prosperous Businesses You Could Start - Sublimation Printing

11 Prosperous Businesses You Could Start Using Sublimation Printers

Sublimation printing has been around since the 1950s and, since its creation, has risen in popularity. It's used from a hobbyist level right through to large-scale manufacturing across every niche imaginable.

Stock photo - people sharing business ideas

If you've recently invested in one of the many sublimation printers on the market, you might be wondering what you can do with it, as well as how you can turn your sublimation business idea into a profitable business.

You're probably asking yourself, what niche to branch into, where do you find buyers, to sell to and what items have the largest universal appeal?

In this article, we give you useful background information about sublimation printing as well as suggest profitable business ideas you can use. Read on to find out more.

What Is Sublimation Printing & How Does It Work?

Sublimation is where a design is printed onto a special type of paper with sublimation ink. The image is then transferred onto another material through heat and pressure. This is a preferable option for designs that would otherwise not work with vinyl.

With the correct heat, the ink turns into a gas which is then transferred to a specially coated blank. The right amount of pressure is what allows the gas to permanently bind to the blank.

In practical terms, It's different from regular heat transfer. When you do a heat transfer design, usually you will apply the design just to the surface of the material you are transferring to. With sublimation, the ink becomes a part of the material.

Why Is Sublimation Printing So Popular?

Sublimation prints have gained popularity from hobbyists through to the industrial printing market for several reasons.

The first is the versatility of the process. You can print onto a whole range of specially coated products and fabrics. This even includes creating Glitter Tumbler, Mug and Pen sublimation end products.

Sublimation printing - Glitter tumbler, mug and pen ideas

Find this design and tons of other sublimation images in the Plus Hub. Why not sign up today for a FREE 30-day Gold Membership trial?

Sublimation doesn’t have much of a learning curve and once you've mastered how to set up your machine, it's a simple process.

Setup and running costs depend on the type of printer you use. Sawgrass printers are quite pricey but an investment that pays off fairly quickly. If you’re on a budget, you may want to look at a printer conversion. However, you should note that once you use sublimation ink in the printer, the warranty is voided.

Things to Know Before You Start

If you're looking at creating a profitable business, then the first thing you'll want to do before you get started is research your target market. Even if you're producing fabulous products, if there's no one interested in buying your items, then your business will fail.

Research what your competitors are doing. Speak to people and local businesses to see if they have a problem you can solve for them.

Something else to think about is how to grab the attention of potential customers. Are you focusing on the local market and offering a personalized service through a brick-and-mortar store? Or are you intending to appeal to a larger audience and sell via the internet or a platform like Etsy?

After you've researched who you're selling to and how, you need to think about what you are selling. The majority of your prints need to be on blanks with a sublimation coating. You can’t sublimate onto materials such as cotton but polyesters and poly-cotton blends as long as there is at least 65% polyester.

Essential Tools for Sublimation Printing

Like any business, before you get started, there will be some essential tools and materials you'll have to invest in. Here's a list to get you started.

A sublimation printer

Print paper

Sublimation blanks, such as mugs, t-shirts, mouse mats, etc

Sublimation inks

A heat press or mug press

It's also worthwhile investing in tutorials to get you up and running quickly. It's also a good idea to invest in design software. We have some helpful guides such as how to make sublimation designs in Photoshop and, if you’re a Plus Member, you can make designs in DesignScape. For Silhouette and Procreate users, Design School has you covered.

Design School - free tutorials

11 Businesses to Start Using Sublimation Printers

Are you excited to get started on your printing business? If you're wondering what products to create, then here's a list of the most profitable sublimation printing businesses right now.

1. T-Shirts

T-shirts are one of the most in-demand ways to utilize sublimation printing. They appeal to adults and children alike and for a huge array of uses. People love to customize t-shirts with their own designs or slogans as well as are great for company logos and branding, and events.

2. Greeting Cards

Whether it's a birthday, Christmas, anniversary, wedding, graduation, or just to say hello, greeting cards have always been popular.

Although there are plenty of places to buy an off-the-shelf design, they do lack personality. By creating bespoke cards, buyers can choose their own designs.

3. Mugs

Mugs wrap designs are another popular and highly profitable product to sublimation print on. Similarly to t-shirts, they have a wide appeal. Companies, such as cafes, like to use mugs as part of their branding efforts. They are also popular gift items and can be personalized easily.

The base shape of the mugs comes in a range of sizes and styles, which adds to their salability. If you want to create your own designs, there are plenty of mug wrap templates to choose from on Design Bundles.

4. Mouse Mats

Pretty much everyone will come into contact with a computer or laptop regularly. Although many of them come with a touchpad, these can still be tedious to use compared to a classic mouse.

Mouse mats are a popular choice for places like libraries, schools, and universities. Mouse pads can come in a variety of shapes and sizes for universal appeal.

5. Wallpaper

If you want to appeal to clients interested in home furnishing, then you may want to branch into wallpaper as a service that you offer.

Customized digital backgrounds as wallpapers are great on a feature wall and can make a statement in any home revamp. You will need some slightly more specialized equipment; however, with the surge in people renovating homes right now, you could see a decent return on investment by specializing in this.

6. Stickers

Stickers have timeless popularity and have so many uses; your imagination really is the limit. They can be used in shops and cafes to label products, companies can give them out for people to decorate their bumpers or laptops, or students and children can use them to decorate their workbooks.

Sell them as either ready-made bundles or allow customers to create their own designs. Check out the amazing FREE Stickers category, just waiting for you to download. This collection includes small business stickers, saving you even more money.

Small business stickers - business ideas

7. Pillows & Cushions

If you're furnishing a room, one of the best ways to add the finishing touch is with some color-coordinated cushions or pillows. It can be challenging to find something that's perfect. Custom orders for your clients allows for the personal choice of color and design to match perfectly with their interior.

On a personal note, friends and family will love personalized Christmas sublimation designs. Whether it's a cuddle-worthy pillow, or adding some color to your room, sublimation is a vibrant option when other methods fail.

8. Aprons

Aprons can appeal to a range of businesses, including cafes and restaurants, as well as anyone doing messy work, like a craft club. Chef enthusiasts will enjoy the selection of Kitchen PNG files that are perfect for creative ideas.

Printing the name of the business is also an easy way to make workers look uniform, even if they are wearing their clothing underneath.

9. Socks

At least once in your life, you've probably received a pair of socks for Christmas. These are classic gifts that, as much as we might smirk when we receive them, are actually pretty useful.

Update this classic gift, and print personalized socks for people. Socks can be made with funky patterns, names, and pictures to make them totally unique.

10. Caps & Sport Apparel

A solid niche for sublimation printing is caps and sports apparel. These are popular with small sports teams and people running events, such as charity fun runs.

Caps, team tabards, and jackets are all great choices that work well for sporting events.

11. Banners, Canvas & Wall Art

If you have a large printer, you might want to branch into large-format wall art or canvases. These have a wide range of appeal and can be used to decorate homes.

You could also create banners and advertising for larger companies if you branch into flex printing. Roll-up banners are popular for events such as trade fairs and promotional events.

Which Sublimation Printer Business Are You Going to Try?

Are you ready to get started with your sublimation printing business? If you're excited to get going but stuck with the creative side, no problem.

Visit Design Bundles to find a wide range of designs suitable for use with sublimation printers. All you have to do is choose a design from our extensive library, and you're ready to go.

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