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Create a Design Page in CorelDRAW

March 31st, 2011

By Steve Conde

Did you know that you can write and store all kinds of text, clipart and other information with your CorelDRAW jobs? You can. You can keep setting information such as temp, time and pressure, the type of paper used, if you used PowerDriver and what the settings were or if you used and ICC Profile, like the ones offered by Condé, you can note that as well. You can keep customer information such as name, phone number, etc., and you can keep your pricing structure.

Even better, you can create a Master Page where you store all kinds of commonly used clipart, flourishes, logos, outlines or even templates, then just clip and drag them into the drawing when needed.

How do you perform this miracle? Simple. Just type or insert the information or clipart outside the working page in Corel. Anything outside the working page will not print and for all extent and purposes, Corel just ignores it.

So stop loading those Corel clipart disks every time you need a flourish or some design element every time you do a drawing. Just pick out what design elements or clipart you use over and over and drag it onto the area around a drawing page and then save the page as “Master Name Badges” or “Master Plaque” or whatever.

When you need to design a name badge, just open “Master Name Badges” and use whatever clipart, logo, font or design you need by dragging it from outside the margin into the drawing area. When done, do a “Save As” to a new file. When you go to close the “Master Name Badges” page, it will ask if you want to save the changes. Just say, “No” and the next time you need it, it will open just like it did the last time, and the time before that.

This is a huge time saver and it works with anything you want to put on the outside of the drawing page – pictures, bitmaps, line drawings, words, text, arrows, borders, flourishes, logos, even backgrounds.

To be honest, this is a trick I just learned about, but you can be sure I will soon have a long list of “Master” pages with all kinds of stuff on them. I hate digging through those CorelDRAW disks for clipart and logos and by golly, I think this will just about put an end to that!


Boost Sales for Name Badges

March 30th, 2011

By Steve Conde

What to do to increase your name badge sales? Here’s a simple way to do that: put your company name and phone number on the back of each FRP badge.

Wasn’t that just too simple? Well, it was but sublimating both sides of a name badge is a problem, isn’t it? I mean, the backs are not sublimatible – right?

Wrong! The quality of the sublimation image that goes on the back of a typical UNISUB® FRP name badge like those you order from Condé, will not be as good as the front but it will sublimate quite easily.

The UNISUB name badges that are actually made of fiberglass have a highly supplicated coating on the front that makes it sublimate. But the exposed fiberglass on the back will also accept sublimation ink. In fact, fiberglass was one of the very first materials we used to sublimate on – remember the fiberglass license plates? They were terrible, they were ugly and they didn’t like all that heat (they were like rubber when hot) but in the early days, that was the best we had and we sold a lot of them.

Well, anyway, we can sublimate to the backs of FRP name badges and if you are smart, you will do both the front and back at the same time!

The easiest way is to use Condé’s Pro Spray™ adhesive. If you are not familiar with this product, check out the video on CondeTV. It will give you detailed instructions on its use.

When printing your transfers, print one for the front and one for the back with the exact same positioning on each. This way, you can be sure that your impressions will always be right on target. Apply a VERY light coat to each of the transfer papers AFTER they have had a few minutes to dry. Place the sheet with company names on the stage of your heat press facing up. Then position each badge (face up) and allow the adhesive to lightly hold the badge in place. Next, take the other transfer sheet and position it directly over the first making sure all four corners line up. Cover with a sheet of copy paper or other cheap, clean paper and press for approximately 60 seconds.

Having your company name and contact information on the back of each badge is a sure fire guarantee you will increase your business and best of all, it didn’t cost you a thing – just a sheet of paper and a little bit of ink.


DOES METAL GO FACE UP OR FACE DOWN IN THE HEAT PRESS?

March 28th, 2011

By Steve Conde

One question I hear all the time is what the order should be when sublimating metal. There has been a debate for years about which is best: Do you sublimate metal with the transfer sheet on the bottom or the top of the metal?

If you listen to the “experts”, you will hear both, so which is right? The answer? Both.

The truth is, there are many things in sublimation that can be done in a multitude of ways and this is one of them. With today’s quality sublimation metal, it really doesn’t make any difference I can see. So, why is there such a debate?

One reason may date back to the very early days of coated metals for sublimation. We didn’t always have UNISUB® metal, or Dye-Sub or any of the other quality metals. What we had was a mishmash of metals. There were usually no brands and we didn’t know who applied the coating or what coating they had used. I am convinced that some just spray painted the metal and sold it as sublimatable. A few were pretty good but most were absolutely terrible. In an attempt to make the most of a bad situation, we found that if we pressed these metals with the transfer on the bottom and the face of the metal looking down, we tended not to have as many problems.

What usually happened was the metal would imprint in a way that it appeared to have stripes in it. That’s right: stripes. There would be, what appeared to be strips in the coating that showed through the sublimated image. On other metals, tiny cracks would appear in the surface. Both were caused by the 400 degrees required to sublimate the image. The coatings just weren’t capable of handling the heat.

For some reason, the metal seemed to do better when the heat passed through the metal and didn’t directly touch the coating. I don’t know why and actually, it didn’t always make a difference at all but that got it all started: “You should press metal face down” (transfer on the bottom).

Once better coatings came along, all this became academic. UNISUB and other quality coatings easily handle the heat. Now, I still press my metal face down, but for no real reason other than habit and the fact I think it is a bit easier that way.

For more information about printing metal with sublimation, check out CondeTV.

Oh, one last thing: Don’t forget to remove the protective film from the metal. Many a beautiful a job has been ruined because it is so hard to tell if the film is still on the metal.


How to scan a BIG picture with a SMALL scanner

March 23rd, 2011

By Steve Conde

Ever have this problem? A customer brings you a photo that is too large for your scanner? I find it embarrassing to the point I want to run out and buy a bigger scanner but then there is the cost – oversize scanners can easily run $1,000 or more and I just can’t justify that kind of money in a scanner. So what can you do?

You can do something called “stitching”. This is a feature in many programs including PhotoShop and PhotoPaint but here’s an even easier solution that really, really works. Buy a copy of “Scan and Stitch”. You can download it from the company for $40 or from Amazon for $25, and it works great.

Once loaded, just scan a portion of the picture you need and then scan the next portion. You can make as many scans as you need to get the entire image and then let the program do the rest. It will find the overlapping parts in an image and “stitch” it together for you.

This works equally well with digital photos too. Want to take a panorama of something? No problem, just take multiple shots keeping the bottom of the image as level as possible and stitch the shots together using this software – nothing to it. This allows you to maintain a much higher resolution than you could do if you tried to use a wide angle lens and get the entire panorama in a single shot and helps maintain far more detail.

To find the link, just type in www.arcsoft.com or to save a few bucks, do a search for “scan and stitch software” on www.amazon.com and get the software for just $25.


Condé Balloon Sizes

March 22nd, 2011

          Because they are precut sheets, it can be hard to align your print on the Condé Photo Balloons. One reason for this is the fact that the balloons are not a standard paper size. By creating a custom paper size for your printer you can take most of the guess work out of aligning your print.

          The following chart shows the sizes for the Condé Photo Balloons:Balloon Chart

          It would be impossible for me to show you how to create these custom paper sizes for every printer. However, since we recommend the Epson Stylus Photo 1400 or the Epson Workforce 1100 you can refer to our online video and documentation for instructions on these printers. The Procedure is the same for each.  

          In addition, you will find informative videos for configuring color management by the support team at Condé by visiting Condé TV, Condé Facebook Page and Condé Twitter. Look for more upcoming videos and informative blog entries to be added for successful sublimation and maintaining your Condé DyeSub System. If there is something that you think would be better said in an instructional video or blog posting, then we look forward to hearing your ideas.

Thanks,
Condé Systems Inc.
www.conde.com

Support Technician,
1-800-826-6332
Andy Taylor


GROWING YOUR BUSINESS – Don’t Exaggerate the UV Stability of Sublimated Products

March 22nd, 2011

By Steve Conde

We’re all guilty of it.  A customer asks, “How long will this hold up outside?”, and before we know we have opened our mouth, we spout off, “years”.  Now that probably isn’t true, and after the customer has gone, we begin to have second thoughts and wonder if that customer is going to come back in 18 months wondering what went wrong.

The truth of the matter is, sublimated products are susceptible to fading when exposed to UV light (sunlight), heat or some fluorescent light bulbs.  And some products are far more susceptible than others.  You should know the difference and should always be honest with your customer.  Here’s why:

If you tell a customer something will hold up for 18 months and it holds up for 24, you are a hero.  He will likely come back and say, “I got more life than you promised and I need another”.  If you tell him 24 months and it begins to fade one day short of that, you’re a lying jerk.

Sublimation does fade when over exposed to UV light, sunlight or heat – period.  The question is, how much will it fade and when?  If you tell your customer honestly, it is of little consequence but if you exaggerate – that’s when the trouble starts.

The most UV resistant of all sublimation materials is the UNISUB line of products.  They were the first to put a significant amount of UV resistant material in their coatings.  Some ceramic tiles also have an excellent record of holding up in extreme environments but most other products will fade rather quickly when exposed to prolong heat or UV light.

Here’s a test:  Sublimate a shirt and place it in your showroom window and wait 3 months.  Chances are, it will fade significantly, no matter what direction the window is facing, summer or winter.  It isn’t a problem with shirts because people don’t wear the same shirt in the sun for 8 hours a day, every day for 3 months so the average shirt will probably never fade – but a flag, now that’s a different story because it is exposed to the elements for a long time.  The same is true with other materials as well.

UNISUB has worked from their beginning to find a long term solution to this problem for their plaques, license plates, name badges, etc. and they have an excellent solution that gives their products good UV stability – so long as you remember what to expect from it.

I test UNISUB metal on the front of my car in the form of license plates (license plates have the most UV resistant material of any of their products) and I find that I can get 18 months of life with no significant fading.  Once the plate starts to fade, it fades rather rapidly (about 6 months) and then stops.  Once it stops, or slows to a very slow pace, there is about 70% of the color remaining so the product is still very usable, it just doesn’t have the vividness it did when it was new (that 70% number is my own subjective judgment and has no scientific basis).  I now have a plate on one car that is over 3 years old and looks as good as they did when it was 2 years old but is a long way from new.

Many sublimation metals and other products have no UV protection in them at all.  These are fine when used appropriately such as on indoor walls where sunlight is minimal or on shirts or purses or a hundred other products.  Washing doesn’t hurt the imprint, nor does the average clothes dryer, just sunlight or prolonged heat (heat can be caused by pressure such as stacking a bunch of plaques for a long period of time).  If you don’t know what the stability of a product is, ask your Conde representative – they may not know off the top of their head, but there are other people at Conde who spend a great deal of time testing products so they can answer that question.  The answer is available if you just ask.

There is absolutely no reason why this limitation should hurt your sales of sublimated products!  The secret is to tell the customer exactly what he or she can expect from the product you are selling.  If they intend to use a product in direct sunlight for months at a time, tell them how that product is likely to respond.  Chances are, they will buy it anyway but it also gives you the opportunity to upsell them to either a UNISUB coated product or into another product line that is more suited for their application.

Exaggerating to make a sale will always come back to bite you eventually.  Be proud of your product, tout all its benefits but never exaggerate – it just isn’t worth the price.


What Happened to PowerClip in X5???

March 21st, 2011

By Steve Conde

There have been a lot of puzzled, perplexed and frustrated people who bought CorelDRAW X5™, only to find that PowerClip™ didn’t work! Or at least it didn’t seem to work.

PowerClip is one of the handiest tools in the CorelDRAW arsenal and a must for anyone doing sublimation. To lose this ability would be devastating to say the least.

Those who have bought X5 and tried to use PowerClip have discovered a significant change. Some like it, some don’t but change it has, none the less.

In the past, PowerClip was used by selecting the item to go into a container and then going to the menu and selecting PowerClip. It would then tell you to click on the container and it the object would go. Next, you would usually have to to back to the menu and select PowerClip again, then edit so you could position the image where you wanted it inside the container, then go back to the menu and tell it you were done.

In X5, they have tried to eliminate some of the steps but it takes some getting used to. In X5, you actually position your image in the container before going to the menu because, unlike the older versions, this one will not move the image so it eliminates the editing step. Just position the image you want to clip over the container and then go to the menu. As before, it will ask you to click on the container but in most cases, you won’t have to do anything more. If you positioned the image correctly the first time, it will stay right where you put it – a real time saver. Of course, you can still edit the image if you need to and that is done the same as in earlier versions.

If you haven’t learned how to use PowerClip yet, for heaven’s sake, learn. It is a tool I use every day and will bring new life to your sublimated images. Who said you couldn’t put a square peg in a round hole? You can with PowerClip.


Photo Essentials

March 19th, 2011

So often we want to take an image and manipulate it or enhance the image for something more creative and or personal to the eye. Many people have the question, “how?”. The answer is, there are programs that work inside popular software applications that you can purchase in addition that will perform some phenomenal tasks with images that you may have thought to be hopeless to repair, enlarge, be creative, etc.…Photo Essentials is one of those handy tools that will provide help and make an ordinary image remarkable and give bragging rights to its designer.

Make it Better

This is a feature inside the application that will lighten or darken the image. A very handy tool that many images require.

Cut it out

How many time have you wanted to remove someone or something from within an image. This is a feature that will do just that.

Frame it

How cool is this? Need I say more about this feature?

imageimage

Make it Cool

These are filters in Essentials that will create unique results to a dull image. There are too many to demonstrate but fun to choose from.

imageimage

Enlarge it

Take an average size image and create something you can hang over your mantel or fireplace. The nice thing about this is you will not loose its original sharpness nor will it pixelate. A great tool for mural folks!

 

In addition, you will find other awesome videos for sublimation and heat transfer by the support team at Condé by visiting Condé TV, Condé Facebook Page and Condé Twitter. Look for more upcoming videos and informative blog entries to be added for successful sublimation and maintaining your Condé DyeSub System. If there is something that you think would be better said in an instructional video or blog posting, then we look forward to hearing your ideas.

Thanks,
Condé Systems Inc.
www.conde.com

Senior Support Technician,
1-800-826-6332
Vicky Waldrop


MICROSOFT OFFICE 2010 – GOOD FOR SUBLIMATION?

March 18th, 2011

By Steve Conde

Are you as sick of paying for Microsoft upgrades as I am? Seems like every time you turn around, there is another $239 upgrade for something. The most recent for me was Microsoft Office 2010. Actually, the only reason I upgraded was because I got a really good deal on it. Most of the time, the upgrades do little or nothing to help me. I’ve been through Office XP, Office 2000, Office 2007 and now Office 2010. Some changes I like better than others but I’ve got it now so I might as well make the best of it.

One addition to Word 2010 that I have not found in earlier versions is a host of designs that might very well come in useful to my sublimation business. When you open Word 2010 and tell it to open a “New” document, it offers a couple dozen folders with pre-designed products in them such as Academic Award Certificates, Business Award Certificates (think sublimated award plaques), Business Cards (think sublimated business cards), Calendars (think erasable sublimation calendars), Invitations (think designs for sublimatable products), and many more you can use in your own business, such as Inventory Sheets, Memos, FAXs, and so on.

Now, I’m not at all sure I would throw $239 away just to get these little goodies but if you do have to upgrade, at least you get something for your money. I might always say that if you keep your eyes open, you just might run into a good deal for this software. I got mine for $10 and although you will be very lucky to find that deal, you can always buy the educational version for about $115 from Amazon.com (surely you have someone in your organization who is a student somewhere).

This brings up the question, “Can you sublimate out of Word?”. And the answer is “yes”. You can print out of Word, or just about any other program just as easily as you can print out of CorelDRAW with one caveat: You must be able to mirror image the content. This is done easily enough if you are using an Epson printer but the Ricoh drivers do not have a mirror option, so if you are using a Ricoh, you will need to either use PowerDriver and mirror image it there, or import the content of Word into CorelDRAW or some other program where you can mirror image the content. I don’t do this on a regular basis but I occasionally print out of many programs, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. Usually, I capture the documents within these programs and move them to CorelDRAW where I can more easily add other design elements to them. Sometimes I do this by cut and paste, by saving a document as a PDF, or just importing it. Each method has its good and bad points, of course. I find cut and paste to create the fewest problems but it all depends on what is in the document as to which method works best.


TWO-SIDED HEAT PRESSES

March 17th, 2011

By Steve Conde

Here’s a new critter for sublimation: Two-sided heat presses. Actually, they have been around for a very long time but not commonly found in our industry. Is it worth considering for your operation? Maybe, let’s see:

What is it? A two-sided heat press, not only has a heating platen on the top, but also on the bottom. This way, both sides of a product can be heated simultaneously. But it also has another advantage: You can use either the top or bottom platen for different products.

What is it good for? It is used to make two sided products such as luggage tags, key tags and the like but that isn’t the biggest advantage in my opinion. The biggest advantage is that you can select only one platen to heat and while that might usually be the top one, there are times when it would be really neat to use the lower one. For example: Let’s say you are making a bunch of name badges. If you have a top heating press, you will need to attach all the badges to the transfer paper using heat tape, then flip the transfer paper over so the face of the badge faces up for a one-minute press time. Will one or more of the badges probably move when you flip them over? If your luck is like mine, it will.

With a dual platen press, you don’t have to do all that. Just select the bottom platen and lay out your badges as usual but don’t flip them over, just lay them on the heat press and close ‘er up. One minute and the badges are done.

Because of cost, the two-headed press isn’t for everyone but for those who do a lot of two-sided work or do a lot of work with large pieces of Unisub® FRP, mouse pads, and the like; the two-headed press can save a lot of time and trouble. If you would like to know more about this press, you can check it out on CondeTV.

Many presses already on the market can be retrofitted to be dual head or two-sided presses. The George Knight® DK20s or the DK 14 or 16 Combos for instance, have optional heated platens that can be changed over in just a few minutes and even changed back if so desired. Just remove the lower platen or “stage” and replace it with the optional platen sold for that unit. Simple as can be.

Oh yea, I should mention: If you plan to use both elements at the same time, you will need to make the appropriate electrical upgrade. Since each element draws about 16 amps and most wiring is set up with 20 amp breakers, you will either need to plug each element into a separate circuit, run an additional circuit or have an electrician install a split 220 volt circuit. That is where a 220-volt line is installed but the final plug is wired so it provides two 110-volt circuits rather than the traditional 220.