View Full Version : Who needs Dye-Sub?

Scott Shepherd
09-24-2007, 10:49 AM
I have a rush job right now that has a number of items in it, and in talking to the guy on the phone on Friday afternoon, he threw in one final thing that I didn't want to hear, "And I want that in color".

Crap. Rush job, logo, color, and a dozen of them.

No time to sub out, since he wants to see a sample first. A sample on a rush job, yippee, my favorite. That rules out subcontracting for sure, as there's simply not enough time. He wants the proof on one day, the final two days later.

So I gave it some thought and couldn't see why this wouldn't work, so I tried it this weekend and it came out looking very nice, far exceeding my expectations.

This is 1/8" extruded acrylic, painted white on the back, engraved through one color at a time, color filled, then put back in the machine, engraving the next area to be filled, and so on. I showed it to several people and everyone keeps telling me that my vinyl work is just amazing. Vinyl work? That's a laser job! That's when they look at me in confusion and say "I just don't understand".

What do you think?

Frank Corker
09-24-2007, 11:09 AM
Steve I got hit with a couple of jobs of just that nature, having to break down the pictures into different 'colour' segments and engrave/paint/engrave/paint. Good result but endless hair pulling! You've done a lovely job by the way

Mike Null
09-24-2007, 3:33 PM
Nice work and good thinking!

Joe Pelonio
09-24-2007, 4:51 PM
Very nicely done, and way to use your head!

I've always said that in this business one must be creative.

Scott Shepherd
09-24-2007, 9:14 PM
Thanks guys :) I'll be doing this more often. The photo really doesn't do it justice. It's just razor sharp super clean looking.

Either that, or I'll break down and get a dye-sub setup :)

Mike Hood
09-24-2007, 9:25 PM
Really nice work there. Only problem is the value you put on your time. You could dye sub a piece of FR plastic in just a few minutes.

I don't look at my dye sub hardware and laser as competing technologies... but as very complimentary. (They're a lot cheaper than people think in smaller sheet sizes)

Darren Null
09-24-2007, 9:27 PM
Excellent job. What technique/fill do you use to do the colour fill? I've tried a couple experimentally, with gold car spray, but it always seems to go horribly wrong.

Gary Gilbert
09-24-2007, 10:03 PM
What is the "dye-sub"? (Dye sublimation?) Is it a different machine?
Is that how they put color on plastics, like the credit card plastic?

I'm asking because I've had someone interested in this capability, but I have no idea how to do it other than the process you did.



Darren Null
09-24-2007, 10:09 PM
It is indeed dye-sublimation. Then you transfer to your chosen surface using a heat press.

Scott Shepherd
09-24-2007, 10:54 PM
Mike, I 100% agree. If I had the time I'd dye-sub it. I'm researching dye-sub currently and it's on our list of things to purchase next. However, I can't get a dye-sub setup in, and learn how to use it, within the next three days. All along I was aware that dye-sub was the right method. I even had an email typed to someone who does dye-sub that can do it and I deleted it because there simply wasn't enough time. As I mentioned before, it's all part of a large job for me that has a lot of different items in it.

Darren, I just used craft paint for it all. About $1 per bottle. I dripped it in, used a squegee and filled the voids, put it under a light to make it dry fast. Whole process went fairly quickly.

With our laser, vinyl plotter, and future dye-sub, I think we can cover most of what we are hit with.

Mike Hood
09-25-2007, 10:33 AM
I just made the jump with dye-sub myself Scott.

It's a cool technology (especially if you already have a laser). They compliment each other very well.

I think they're talking about adding a Dye Sub forum on SMC. I'm sure it would generate lots of new buzz. Very cool tool.

I have a larger printer than I need, but aside from that they can be had rather inexpensively. The "Mates" line of sublimateable materials is something I'm sure most of us laser folks could really dive into.

I'd REALLY like to see a laserable two-ply material, that was white on the surface (sublimateable) and some other colors beneath. You could then engrave away after sublimating the plastic... but there are lots of cool ideas out there. I'm sure you'll enjoy it it when you make the plunge.

Richard Rumancik
09-25-2007, 10:38 AM
If you decide to go into dye sublimation just make sure that you can keep the printer busy. If not, be sure to print something (using all colors) at least every week so that the ink doesn't dry up in the jets. Not using it for a while may ruin the printer as servicing it could be very costly. Ask me how I know . . .

Just an idea if someone wants to dabble with ocassional sublimation: maybe you could make a deal with someone who prints T-shirts and mugs etc in the local mall. If you are not competing with them, they may be willing to print your sublimation transfers from your files for a reasonable price. You would still need a heat press. Then later you could decide if you wanted to take it further and purchase the printer.

Mike Hood
09-25-2007, 1:09 PM
I have a couple of Tees and a couple of sublimated items that use primary colors (intentionally).

Every Saturday morning I run one of each through the printer. I burn two sheets of transfer paper that way, but I can always can use them for something. I also run an occasional nozzle check just to be sure nothing has clogged. Usually every week or so. Just the cost of doing business.

I also have some clipart pieces I run for the local kids to use as iron-ons and they use them to decorate their own shirts at home.

Darren Null
09-25-2007, 7:05 PM
Thanks Scott. I've always used less subtle methods up till now. And my missus still hasn't forgiven me for spraying a gold square on the outside table. Subtlety. Good plan.