Managing Full Color
Earlier we stated that we usually suggested inkjets and our ArTainium
inks for sublimating onto "whites" like FR plastics, ceramic, coated MDF boards
There is a one-word reason for the suggestion: backgrounding.
When a laser transfer is printed, very fine toner dust in the printer is also
attracted to the paper, because of static electricity in the paper, and spreads
all over it. In the trade, this is called backgrounding.
While it cannot be seen on gold and silver awards sublimation metal, it can be
seen on anything white. While the backgrounding is even, it has the effect of
making pure white appear ash colored, as shown on the mouse pad to the right.
Many would think the image looks just fine, but wouldn't like it if they also
wanted a white background.
This is a characteristic of all laser printers,
using magnetic toners. While this effect can be successfully managed, it can never
be totally eliminated and must be dealt with. Knowing this fact, why would anyone
want to use their laser printer for sublimating whites?
There are actually
First, awards companies use their HP 4550 printer to make
more money on plaques, badges, ID tags and signs. For the average awards dealer,
this is the highly profitable cream of their business. Anything else that they
can do with the printer is just extra gravy.
Second, is the fact that
many of their customers actually prefer the different look of laser, to inkjet
sublimation. Here is what we mean by that statement.
Inkjets can produce
vivid, brilliant colors that are almost photographic in quality. To many customers,
however, the colors appear "thin", almost like watercolors, no matter how bright
they are. This can be objectionable, if they want a rich looking graphic.
Laser sublimation goes into the polymer so heavy that it has almost an "oil painting"
look. The two looks are quite different, although the colors may be technically
Look at the mug to left. It is difficult to see on a web page
picture, but the discerning eye can see the "thicker" look of the laser print.
You may also be able to see this effect on the Unisub® FRP oval badge at the top
of the page. This subtle difference holds true even with light colored images.
for an example.
The third reason is even simpler: profit! A ColourMagic!
transfer costs about one-third of the price of the same transfer from an inkjet
or the heavily advertised "polymer" toners used by several other laser printers.
"Whites" are a sideline for the most profitable awards companies. Most display
what they sell, so the customer sees what they are getting, and if they have no
objection, that's all that counts.
Managing the visual effects of backgrounding
think some make too much of backgrounding. After all, what profitable awards company
in their right mind wants to become an unprofitable "knickknack" gift store orientated
towards selling mugs and T-shirts? Your money comes from decorating and lettering
Since it is a total non-issue on gold and silver (didn't
notice it on any of our pictures did you?) then the issue just becomes one of
how can you get additional revenue streams from a fine piece of equipment like
the HP 4550. For those folks, here are some answers.
The eye mainly objects
to what is noticeably out of place. Most of time, if it looks like it is part
of the design, it is not even noticed.
Look back up at the coffee
cup. You may not have noticed any backgrounding. The cup is off-white and the
transfer was cut to cover the entire mug, so the backgrounding is everywhere.
If you look very closely at the curved rim of the cup (where the paper couldn't
touch) you will see a difference in the shades of white. However, as one of our
sublimators remarked, "If my customer is looking for objections, I have failed
to impress them with my graphics."
You didn't notice any backgrounding
on the Unisub® badge at the top of the page because there is practically no white
showing. The same holds true for the mouse pad on this page. Because the fabric
is off-white and backgrounding is just a fine "toner dust" that is evenly attracted
to the laser paper, it does not stand out when transferred.
Some products, like the Unisub® coaster to the right, come with a plastic film
on the item. There is no backgrounding at all on the coaster because the image
was transferred through the film and the film blocked it. After cooling, the laser
paper and film were peeled off, just like you would do with regular sublimation
There are many other techniques we teach our customers
about managing the visual effects of backgrounding on white, but don't miss the
cartridges and the HP 4550 color laser printer is mainly used by dealers to make
more money with their high profit gold and silver plated recognition products.
It is superior, in every respect, for that purpose.
If you want to primarily
sublimate onto white substrates, we continue to suggest inkjet sublimation. If
that is your need, tour our inkjet sublimation site at www.dyesubinks.com.
The economical, but high quality, ArTainium
inks we offer, will blow your socks off with vibrant color: on white!
Hang in there with us
The last page of the tour concerns our summarized
thoughts on making money with ColourMagic!
laser sublimation. It's part of the…