View Full Version : Dye Sub Costs

Scott Shepherd
10-01-2007, 12:00 PM
I'm looking into getting some dye sub equipment and have a question or two. I hope to be looking at a bunch of stuff at an upcoming show, so I'd like to go in with some knowledge and be able to make a good buying decision.

I was looking through a catalog and saw the price of inks and was a bit shocked. Perhaps the ink catridges are larger than a normal one, but I see to recall seeing prices in the $160-250 range for single colors. Is that correct? Will it cost $500-600 to replace all the ink cartridges?

I won't (at first) be doing a high volume of dye sub, but rather just another tool to fill all the needs of just a few customers. I won't be marketing coffee cups, but rather some form of a commercial grade sign that's got dye sub work on it. Probably won't use it but once a week for a job or two. It's probably the worst possible usage for a dye-sub system that needs to be run often to keep it unclogged.

How long do the cartridges last? I know that's dependent on what you're printing, but can you do 10 full color t-shirts (not that I plan to make t-shirts), or is it 50 or 100 shirts?

Anyone here recommend a good printer?

Also, any major differences in the models of printers?

Mike Null
10-01-2007, 12:08 PM

I just gave away my clogged Epson 1280 and have sold my sub supplies. Your description of what you want to do is the same as what I was doing.

Save the money and have somebody print your transfers. All you need then is a heat press.

Scott Shepherd
10-01-2007, 1:10 PM
Hi Mike, thanks for that info. I wish we did have someone we could work with, but to date, I haven't found anyone local who doesn't want to rape me on pricing.

I must have gone to a different school than most. I ocassionally work with a guy who runs a printing place. I did business with him years before I got involved in engraving. I still use him for all of my printing needs. When he gets walk-ins for stuff he can't do, he calls me. I give him discount rates and we both make money.

However, all the people I have found in the sign, vinyl, or dye-sub type stuff around here all believe that I should be charged retail price for items. When I walk in with a job, they open a price book and give me the same price as anyone else. I recently met a guy who runs a vinyl cutting business out of his home. His exact words to me were that just because he's home based doesn't mean he charges any less and that he considered his pricing to be on the high end of the scale.

That's exactly why we bought our plotter. We couldn't find people who wanted a two way street to work with. In the past, I sent a bunch of expensive sign lettering to a guy, then walked in, wanted the numbers "125" done in vinyl, 1 1/2" tall, me supplying the graphics. He charged me $25 for it. Turns out, I measured a sign on one floor, assuming all were the same. When I went to install it, I noticed it needed to be 1 3/4". I called him, sent him the file, and darned if he didn't charge me $25 again.

Cost me $50 for 2 "125" vinyl letters, all from the guy who I sent $1000's of dollars worth of business to. Oh, forgot to add, the first "125" took me 10 days to get, and the second one, 3 days to get.

That's typical of what I find in this area. No one wants to partner up, so we're forced to get things ourselves. I've been in manufacturing for 20+ years and have never seen attitudes like this. I'm not overjoyed about getting into dye-sub, but I think it'll allow us to produce some very unique office style signs that no one else is even messing with.

Mike Null
10-01-2007, 2:00 PM

I have found a guy here in St. Louis if he ever gets his act together. Look at $4-5 per sheet as a reasonable price--at least in my judgment. I have had people 2000 miles away print sheets for me. Right now I'm lining up somebody in Colorado and Kentucky just in case the St Louis guy doesn't work out.

Scott Shepherd
10-01-2007, 2:20 PM
Thanks Mike, subbing it out isn't going to be an option. We turn around most all of our signs in a day or so, so getting involved in subbing it out where we are at the mercy of someone else's timeline isn't something we'd like to do right now.

Mike Hood
10-01-2007, 2:36 PM
I'm just getting mine started up, but the costs can be surprising. Inks and transfer paper are pricey. Hardware can be expensive if you buy the good stuff. And blanks are a whole 'nuther story. :)

BUT... all that encouragement aside... there is just nothing better than being able to do all that work yourself when the time comes.

I'd be willing to print transfers for whoever wants them. We can start optimistically and see what the actual costs come out to over time. I have lots of capacity on my left.

I am currently sized to do up to 11" x 17", but roll paper could scale that up if you needed larger.

Shoot me an email: somesailor@gmail

I'm just getting back online after some family issues, but can help you out if you need it.

Keith Outten
10-01-2007, 3:27 PM

I have the Epson 1280 which is the same model that Mike Null was disappointed in and recently sold If my memory is hasn't failed me today :)

I purchased my 1280 with the bulk ink option which was a horrible costly mistake. After a number of clogs and other problems I dumped the bulk ink bottles and installed two Artainium ink cartridges, they have worked flawlessly without any clogging issues...even if I only print once a month.

My 1280 will print 13" wide so I order roll paper and can print any length. I found the roll paper to be less expensive than sheets, I prefer the flexibility and don't mind cutting paper to length.

I suggest that you contact Alpha Supply and ask which Epson printer has taken the place of the 1280 but don't even consider the bulk ink option. I haven't been dye-sublimating anything other than Corian so I don't have any information for you concerning how many or how much. Corian is very profitable to dye-sub...I don't have to worry about the cost of ink or paper :)


Stephen Beckham
10-01-2007, 10:14 PM

Just got the replacement for the 1280 - it's the Epson 1400. I got it from Conde. If you would like a sales rep name/number, PM me...

For starters - I just spent right at $3000 to get the whole kit n kabutle (spelling). Trust me - this isn't gloating - it cut to the core... Actually Visa kind of owns it right now - they just don't realize it...

Printer - just over $400
Bulk kit - just over $200
Ink (all six) - right at $700
Heat Press - right at $1200
Stuff to put color on - Priceless :eek:

Actually spent about $400 on stuff for starters.

The 1400 does the 13" wide like the 1280 and it has six colors - apparently still suspect to clogging without normal use. Mine still sitting in the corner until I can clean up the Mold problem I found when cleaning for placement.

Mike Null
10-02-2007, 6:23 AM

When I first got my 1280 the results were spectacular. The problem I had was lack of use.

I would highly recommend the following for those who want cartridges and to save by buying bulk ink. These are spongeless refillable cartridges and the company is super to deal with.


Doug Jones from Oregon
10-06-2007, 4:27 PM
For those getting into ink jet sublimation here is one tidbit that will make life easier.....keep the humidity up in the area of the printer. It is low humidity that causes the ink to dry up in the print heads or nozzles.

Also, if you do not have need for larger than 8.5X14 I would strongly suggest you look at laser sublimation as an even better solution. No way you are going to dry out your toner.

Personally, don't like the cost of coated substrates and the shipping costs to get them so I have gone completely to OEM laser toner transfer. Much lower cost of consumables and my tiles and mugs look just fine.


Keith Outten
10-07-2007, 8:17 AM
Mike, thanks for the link.

Doug, are your laser sublimated mugs dishwasher and microwave oven safe?
I assume you can transfer on regular cotton T-shirts and don't need to purchase the 75/25 shirts.


Doug Jones from Oregon
10-08-2007, 4:15 PM
Keith....I don't recommend either the OEM laser transfer process or either of the sublimation processes for the dishwasher. And yes, OEM laser transfer is microwave save. And yes, I can print to standard cotton T-shirts if I wish, just have to buy a different transfer paper.

Please note, I do OEM LASER TRANSFER, Not Laser Sublimation. I use the toners that are supplied by the manufacture with the laser and coated paper.


fyi Keith...I suspect that OEM laser would work great on your corian with the same durability as inkjet sublimation....but much less press time. If you want to send me a scrap piece to test I'd be happy to.

Keith Outten
10-08-2007, 5:22 PM

Send me your address via PM and I wil send you a piece of Corian to test.



Mike Hood
10-08-2007, 10:11 PM
I'd have to think that heat transfer wouldn't penetrate as deeply as dye sublimation. Simply from the way one is ink transferring, and the other a sublimated gas.

Mike Null
10-09-2007, 12:25 AM
CLT is a surface application and doesn't penetrate. It should adhere well to a surface like Corian though I wouldn't use it on a countertop.

Doug Jones from Oregon
10-09-2007, 1:38 PM
I agree, CLT is a surface mount process and would not be suitable for countertops. Seems to me that most of the sublimated corian I've seen was in signage or plaques which CLT should be very suitable for.

AL Ursich
10-10-2007, 9:32 PM

Thanks for the tip. " keep the humidity up in the area of the printer. It is low humidity that causes the ink to dry up in the print heads or nozzles."

I didn't put it together that I didn't have a problem until I turned my Heat on last year with December being the high point of my plugged R1800 with bulk ink.....