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OK, WHICH IS IT? SUBLIMATION INK OR SUBLIMATION DYE?

May 31st, 2011

By Steve Conde

I know it is confusing: We talk about sublimation inks and then we talk about sublimation dyes. It is as if we use the terms interchangeably but they are not the same thing and you should know the difference.

If you remember a blog some time back, I talked about the definition of sublimation – that it was a process by which a solid changed into a gas and then back into a liquid. OK, fine. But sublimation starts out as a liquid (or gel if you use a Ricoh printer), right?

Well, you are partly right and that is where it gets confusing. The so-called ink that comes in those cartridges really isn’t ink at all. It is really a natural dye that is suspended in a liquid or gel medium. It has to be that way to get it onto the transfer paper. To this point, we just don’t know a better way. It is that liquid (or gel) that we commonly refer to as “ink”.

Once the “ink” gets onto the transfer paper, everything changes. From now on, we will deal only with dyes – natural dyes. I emphasize “natural” because one of the executives at Sawgrass once assured me the dyes were all natural and safe. He even offered to drink the stuff to prove his point. Oh, how I wished I had let him. Just for the record, I don’t know exactly what is in the so-called ink so please, don’t drink it, or sniff it, or do anything else with it other than print it onto sublimation transfer paper.

Once the image, or ink, is on the transfer paper, it dries into a solid. In that so-called ink are millions of tiny molecules of dye that are activated only by heat. When they are heated, they turn from a solid within the image to a gas.

It is that gas that permeates the surface of a sublimation receptive product. Once that happens, the product is removed from the heat source and the dyes return to their solid state and when the timing , temperature and pressure are within reasonable limits, the result is a beautiful image on whatever product you are making.

So, is there any such thing as sublimation ink? Well, kind of. If you open one of the Sawgrass sublimation cartridges you got from Condé, it sure will look like ink, and it sure will stain like ink and it sure will spill like ink. So, go ahead call it ink if you want to. We know what you mean – just so you know that what really makes sublimation work isn’t ink at all – its dyes, natural dyes and thus comes the term, dye-sublimation.

PS – Did you know there’s a Free Ink Promo going on? Buy 7, get one free, Ricoh inks, only, call your account manager at Condé to get in on this deal – expires 7/31/11


OH NO, I’M ONE SHORT!!!

May 27th, 2011

By Steve Conde

This ever happen to you? Rush order. You counted those badges before you started and you had enough but…. One short, how did that happen? You look and look, dig through all the boxes, check the floor, even your pockets – no badge to be found. Deadline is closing in – now what?

Well, your Condé representative won’t be able to find your lost badge for you but he or she can replace it quick enough.

One of the most important things in being successful in the sublimation business is having a really good relationship with your distributor. Now, granted, I doubt I would ever actually do this but given the right circumstances, who knows?

When tragedy strikes like the scenario above, call your Condé representative. One of the reasons there are no minimum amounts on your orders is because sometimes, we just don’t need 250 of anything.

Here is what I would expect my distributor to do in a case like the one above: I would expect him to say, “No problem, I’ll get one out to you today. How do you want it shipped?” In fact, any other response would be totally unacceptable.

Condé does ask for a $100 minimum order and that can be made up of anything: One name badge, three bag tags, a can of ProSpray – anything. But even then, when tragedy strikes, for someone just starting out; for anything reasonable, I expect my distributor to break the rules – not because I deserve special treatment, I don’t. But because I’m his (or her) customer. It is their responsibility to help me when I need it and they really want to do that!

Of course, ordering a 38 cent name badge is the extreme and I expect my rep would just put one in a #10 envelope and drop it in the mail. It would actually cost more to write an invoice than to give it away BUT…here is my point: He or she is there to serve me – to help me – even to teach me.

What is my job in this relationship? To try and never, never, never have to ask for favors. Favors are what happen once in a great while, not every time I place an order. That’s why I buy in bulk when I can – so I never have to ask for just one badge to finish an order. Still, I have no doubt that IF I were in trouble and needed just one, he would be right there for me. Anything else is unacceptable.

Now, I said all that to say this: Building a good relationship with distributors is vital to success. Whether you buy from one or several, it is important to build a strong sense of loyalty into your buying habits. Don’t jump all over the place grabbing up whatever is cheap. Pick a company and buy from them – as exclusively as possible. You won’t really save anything by jumping around and more important, the relationship (loyalty) you build with your supplier will pay off in huge dividends – even like the one above.

Technical support, favors, special treatment shouldn’t be reserved for just the biggest buyers, and Condé tries to always treat everyone the same but when you have a total stranger call for a favor and an old friend, guess who is going to get the special treatment? But more importantly, Tech support and all the rest cost money – a lot of money. Your loyalty helps pay those bills and encourage a company to even expand their offerings of free education, tech support and much more.

Do you know the name of your Condé sublimation representative? And just as important, does your sublimation rep know you by name? If not, call today and get acquainted. They are there for you and they want to help.


MOISTURE – NOT A PROBLEM FOR MOST BUT IT CAN BE A KILLER!

May 26th, 2011

By Steve Conde

Most of us don’t think too much about moisture when we do sublimation. I almost never see problems in my shop as a result of moisture. The reason I create unsellable product is usually my own stupid mistakes.

But moisture does raise its ugly head from time to time and always when I least expect it and when it can do the most damage possible.

It is hard to understand how solids like MDF plaques, paper, shirts and the like can hold so much moisture. When they are allowed to sit in the open (outside their original plastic bags), they can absorb and release huge amounts of moisture.

When this moisture level reaches a certain point, it can cause huge problems in sublimation. Now, these problems can usually be easily prevented but if you are like me, and don’t usually have moisture problems, you (and I) take shortcuts. Sometimes, we pay handsomely for that choice.

In another blog, we will talk about how to properly store paper and use paper but for now, let’s just learn to identify when you are experiencing moisture problems so you can know when to take extra precautions.

It is really pretty easy to both identify the potential for high moisture content and “fix” it, if you know what to look for.

The first place moisture usually shows up is on the transfer paper after you press something. Ever notice where one corner of the graphic looks like there was ink shooting out from it? That’s moisture. Notice too, when you close your press, how much steam comes from around the platen. Now, there will almost always be some steam but when it pours out of the press so much you actually notice it, you probably have a too much moisture.

The worst place to discover a moisture problem is with fabric. Why? Because it will often ruin the product. Remember that “blow out” you saw on the transfer paper? Well, when you are doing fabric, that usually ends up on the product. This can happen with other products too but for various reasons, it is most often on fabric.

What products hold and collect moisture?
1. All MDF products like plaques and wall signs. MDF stands for Medium Density Fiber Board or highly compressed paper. It can absorb moisture like a sponge.
2. Transfer paper itself. Although made of wood, it too can act like a sponge.
3. Wood products. If it has pours, it will collect moisture.
4. Fabric of all kinds. This includes cloth covered mouse pads.
5. Rowmark MATES material
6. ChromaLuxe substrates
7. Clipboards and other hardboard products
8. FRP will absorb a small amount of moisture

If you see signs of moisture, it can easily be removed or reduced by placing the transfer and the product in your heat press for 10-15 seconds just prior to pressing. Don’t do it five minutes prior since opening the pores to let moisture out also leaves them open to absorb new moisture in.

If you live in an area with unusually high humidity such as Florida or Louisiana, etc., you should strive to always keep your products in their original plastic bags until just before use and store your paper in a zip-lock bag both before and after printing and always dry both the product and the transfer prior to pressing. If you still have moisture issues or things you can’t explain, call Condé Technical Support. There is someone there who can help you.


I’ll Never Be Successful With Sublimation

May 26th, 2011

By Steve Conde

Maybe you have heard this yourself or maybe you have even said it. I’ve heard it far too many times as people struggle with some element of sublimation. Learning CorelDRAW is probably the most common.

Granted, for some it is easier than others but the reason most people have trouble with CorelDRAW isn’t because it is so complicated (that’s really a myth to make those of us use it feel better about ourselves), it’s because people don’t want to spend the time, exert the effort or more often yet, just plain downright fear. That’s right, fear. They have heard how hard Corel or PhotoShop is for so long, they have built up this horrible image in their minds.

Look, a million people have learned Corel and PhotoShop and most of the other programs as well, and if they can do it, you can do it.

I often say, “CorelDRAW has 100,000 commands in it”. I actually have no idea how many it has but it does have a bunch. But, a sublimator only needs to know about 35 of them to get started and most will never know more than 100 or so. You can learn that many! You don’t have to know how to make a bunching ball with shadows and depressions and reflections of light – you can’t sublimate that any way. What you need to learn is how to make a square and a circle. How to add text and how to work a little with bitmaps (photographs).

But software isn’t the only stumbling block, there have been many others through the years. One continues to be making edge to edge mugs in a heat press. Sounds easy but results can be very frustrating. Other times I hear the, “I’ll never learn this stuff” speech is when a heat press is calibrated correctly or there is some issue with a printer. These are, after all, just machines and they do mess up from time to time. These aren’t the time to quit, it’s the time to ask for help. That’s why Condé has a Technical Support Team. They may not be able to teach you CorelDRAW but when other things go boo in the night, they can help. Don’t hesitate to ask them.

As for the learning curve, you can do it. Don’t let the fear of “not being smart enough” even enter your mind. You can do it and once you learn, it will be as easy for you as it seems for everyone else. Oh, you may mess up a few things along the way but trust me, we all have done that – more than we would ever want to admit – but that’s just the cost of education. Don’t let it bother you.

As for CorelDRAW, there is some help there too. Ask your Condé rep about “ Getting Started with CorelDRAW”. It’s a DVD that shows how to do most of the common techniques needed in sublimation without confusing you with a bunch of information you can’t use.

Can you do this? Absolutely, positively yes. Just get rid of that element of fear, set your jaw and jump in. So what if you ruin some product along the way – who cares? Run into a problem you can’t whip? Call Tech Support, or go online to CondeTV and check out all the educational videos available free of charge. Get frustrated? Don’t. Take a break, some deep breaths and relax. Most mistakes in sublimation are made from either nervousness or not taking the time to check everything twice.

Besides, I can do it and if I can do it, by golly you can do it too!


Growing Your Business: Meet Your Banker

May 24th, 2011

By Steve Conde

So you are going to start a small business? Or maybe you already have a small business. Either way, you hear about “small business” owners all the time. But, are you really a small business? If you check out the definition most commonly used to define small business, it is anything under $5,000,000 per year. If that is a small business, there should be a category for most sublimators, trophy dealers, engravers and the like. We would be “minuscule” businesses. Our gross annual income would be more like $1 million or less per year. A statistic I read a number of years ago amazed me. It said the average award shop grossed only $125,000 per year. Even if that has doubled in the past six or so years since I read it; that is still amazingly small.

Now, if you wonder what that has to do with meeting your banker, it is just this: Many of us really small business owners think we are too small to be of any interest to our banks. If that is really true, you are banking with the wrong people. Your bank should at least act like you are important, even if they don’t believe it. Anyway, here is my suggestion: Go visit with the Manager of your local bank branch. Take him (or her) to lunch even. Get to know them so they call you by name when they see you. Call them once in a while for advice, even if you don’t need it.

I go out of my way to spend some time with the Manager and Assistant Manager of my bank branch. I stick my head in their offices every time I make a deposit, just to wave and say “Hi”. Why?

Well, because they know me, I am treated better than my bank account deserves. Even though I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in my accounts, I have a very nice line of credit anytime I need it and I always get a phone call if something goes wrong. I get the best interest rates and when something new comes out that offers an even better rate of return, I always get a phone call or at least a wave into the Manager’s office when I go by.

Relationships are everything in our business. People buy from people, not companies and that is the best selling tool we can have. But the same thing is true on the other side of our business as well. We might not be a bank’s largest depositor but we can have a good relationship with both officers and tellers and those relationships can really pay off.

Through the years, I have known bank officers, even the Presidents of some very prestigious banks and I assure you, they are just people like you and me. They have the same frustrations and fears we do. And like us, they love to see a friend come by with a warm wave and a smile. This is a relationship that can pay off with big dividends for both sides.

Oh, one more thing: Don’t exaggerate your importance. He (she) knows how broke you are and will often be anxious to help your company grow. Ask for help, ask for advice. Be loyal, not demanding. Who knows, they might even become your customer. Banks use door signs, desk easels, and name badges. Although most chain banks have to use products from their central office, not all do so don’t hesitate to ask for any part of their business they can give you.


Cut to Size Paper for Ceramic Mugs

May 23rd, 2011

By Steve Conde

OK, so it’s not really new to everyone but if you have never heard of it or haven’t tried it, it’s new to you! When this first came out, I met it with a half-hearted, “OK, whatever”. But when I tried it, that “whatever” turned into “Wow! Why haven’t I been using this all along?”

Granted, you can cut your own paper either before or after printing it and make it fit a cup but why bother with that when you can just buy it precut and ready to print. Remember, time is money.

When I first heard about this “innovation”, I thought, “Great, something else to inventory”. But, I feel differently now. I don’t make a lot of cups and when I do, it is usually to teach someone else how to do it but it is so-o-o easy to just pick up a stack of cut-to-size paper and drop it in the printer, I have become a believer.

Condé Systems came up with this idea and as far as I know, they are the only ones that do it. Of course any distributor could do it but they probably feel the same way I did and don’t see the merit in the product.
If you do a lot of cups, let me encourage you to try a pack. Just call your Condé rep and tell them you are ready to try it for yourself.

And when you make those cups, don’t forget the water trick. After you take them out of your press or remove the wrap from them, dip them slowly into a pan of room temperature water (not cold water right out of the tap!). This will stop the sublimation process from continuing. Ceramic products hold heat for a long time and although it may not feel very warm to you, the process can continue for ten minutes or more if it isn’t stopped. This will result in a degraded image.

Ever see a cup that looks like the “ink” has run from the bottom to the top? Weird, huh? That’s caused by allowing the process to continue after it has been removed from a press or wrap.

Ever see a cup that looked great when you took it out of the press (or wrap) and then when you looked at it later, it was blurred? Same thing. The sublimation process wasn’t stopped soon enough.

Ever have a cup break the second you put it in water? That’s because either the water is too cold or the cup was defective to begin with (it does happen from time to time). Usually, it’s because of cold water.


Selling to Schools

May 18th, 2011

By Steve Conde

Have you noticed? There are schools everywhere. High Schools, Grade Schools, Middle Schools, Trade Schools, Colleges, Universities…. Do you sell to any of them? Probably not.
Truth is, very few sublimators sell to schools because they haven’t figured out just how to go about it. Chances are, the schools already buy their trophies and plaques from someone else and although you might be able to push them out, they are probably so well connected, you won’t even get an audience with the right person.
No matter. The secret to getting into many schools isn’t through the athletic department anyway. Every school strives for school spirit and most schools have a school gift shop where the students can buy stuff with their school logo or mascot on it and that is your ticket in.
Many schools will offer screen printed apparel but that is a big problem, especially for a small school since most screen printers won’t (can’t) print items one or two at a time. The school has to invest in dozens of items in a variety of sizes in order to accommodate their student body. That’s where you come in. Don’t try to take the screen printing business away from someone else, just show them what you can offer to compliment whatever they already have.
Offer them key chains, picture frames, personalized shirts and towels. Mousepads, door hangers, hats and mugs are always popular. See, you can do two things no one else can do: One, you can print personalized products with the student’s name on it. Screen printers can’t do that. Two, you can print your products “one up”. No minimum order, no set-up fee, no limit on colors. This means you can put a sample in the school’s gift shop and they can just take orders for you. No investment on their part what-so-ever! The one thing you can know about the school gift shop is they will have no money to invest in inventory! Even if the PTO or some other group sponsors it, they will have very limited funds.
But you don’t care because you don’t need a bunch of money. You get paid for what the student’s order and the school can sell it for whatever they want.
Even if the school does have close ties to a trophy dealer and screen printer, sooner or later, someone is going to ask if you can do those items as well. Depending on your business, you can probably take over as much of the gift shop as you want.
Oh, yea, don’t forget things like picture frames for Prom or Graduation pictures. Perhaps you can even link up with the school photographer to offer items using their pictures.
Start with a local Grade, Middle or High School. They are the easiest and rarely will you run into any licensing issues, royalty payments, etc. If the first school you go to isn’t interested, don’t be discouraged, just go to another. Once one school sees how they can make money with no investment, they will come knocking at your door!

One last tip: Call your Condé Account Manager and ask them to email you the “STM School Module”, a free file of tips, tricks and sample letters made for selling to schools, you will LOVE it!


SUBLIMATION ON COTTON?

May 17th, 2011

By Steve Conde

Can you sublimate on cotton? I hear it almost every day. People seem so disappointed when they find out the answer.
No, you cannot sublimate onto cotton. You should not even try to sublimate onto 50/50 or 70/30 cotton fabrics. Why? Well, sublimation dye, unlike screen printing, actually dyes the fiber of what it goes on and unfortunately, cotton or any natural fabric for that matter, will not accept the sublimation dye. Even if you get an image, it will be far sub-standard and probably wash out the first time it gets wet. The most common process used on cotton is screen printing. Those who don’t know better, often confuse it as a form of sublimation but it isn’t – it is a process all to itself.
The question I have isn’t, “How can I imprint cotton?” but why would you want to? People think cotton shirts are the cat’s meow. I don’t agree. Oh, they are OK for a dress shirt if you don’t mind ironing it every time you wear it but I don’t like to iron and I’m not sure my wife knows how!! That’s why the only kind of dress shirt I will buy has to have a lot of Polyester in it.
Imprints on cotton wash out. Ever since I was a little boy, my mother struggled with cotton fabrics fading when washed. Now today’s fabrics don’t fade like they used to due to colorfast dyes and cold water detergent but they still fade. When Polyester is dyed by sublimation or any other way, it fades very little, if at all.
Then there is the shrinking. I have cotton undershirts that look like they would fit someone half my size. They were too big when I bought them. I never throw them away because they are worn out, just because they shrink to the point I can’t get into them anymore. Polyester does not shrink.
Finally, I have an issue with cotton and something called “the hand”. When cotton fabric is imprinted, it is usually with screen printing inks, and it changes the hand (the feel) of the fabric. The printed area becomes stiff and inflexible. Over time, it may crack and peel off. Sublimation does not change the hand of the fabric. Because sublimation actually dyes the fabric (rather than paint it which is essentially what screen printing does), the fabric remains as soft and pliable as it was originally.
Although Polyester gets a bad rap, it is far superior than cotton for most applications. Unless you are old enough to remember the old Leisure Suits of the 60’s, you probably realize that all those high tech, moisture wicking fabrics used by big names like Nike® and Reebok® are all Polyester. Would you ever pay $40 for a Polyester T-shirt? If you are into those big sports names, you probably have. Certainly many of your customers have. They know the advantages of these new fabrics and aren’t scared off by the fact they are man-made. Granted, some apparel companies try to disguise them by using high flouting names but if you really check them out, you will find they are either Polyester or some combination of Polyester and other man-made fabrics.
In the sublimation world, we use a product line called, “Vapor” (sold by Condé) which makes their garments from the same materials as those high-end companies. Now, I don’t know if you can get $40 out of a T-shirt without using a big brand but you can produce a garment of equal quality and you can make a substantial profit even if you sell it for half what that big brand does.

Unfortunately, you can’t sublimate dark colors like black but there are a number of colors available from bright white to yellow to beige and even a bright red and they all sublimate very well. You will notice the fabric does have an effect on the resulting colors (sublimation dyes are translucent, not opaque so they don’t cover up the color of the fabric, they combine with it) but even with the color shift that occurs, the resulting images are usually very nice (be careful about using photographs on the darker colors). The resulting color on these shirts will knock your socks off!

All that being said, there is one more solution to talk about: ChromaBlast inks and media by Sawgrass. Here’s what they say “Though the application is quite simple, it’s the patented chemical process that sets ChromaBlast apart from any other form of digital cotton printing. As heat and pressure are applied during the production, it sets up a cross-link between the cotton, the inks and the media which transfers the image into the fibers of the garment. The result is a customized cotton or poly cotton garment with a soft hand, vibrant color and superior washability.”

Now, I have handled cotton shirts imprinted with these inks and media and I swear it’s as close to sublimation as you can get. I recommend a small printer set up with those inks and media (the e3300N has a ChromaBlast solution) and you can offer cotton printing to those diehards who insist.

But I still admire sublimation and Vapor shirts…


Which Printer Is Best? Epson or Ricoh? The Debate Goes On

May 16th, 2011

By Steve Conde

I am amazed that I am still reading and hearing a debate as to which brand printer is best for desktop sublimation. From the beginning, we used Epson printers only because they owned the Piezo printhead technology needed for sublimation. Then came Ricoh with the same technology applied to gel inks as opposed to Epson’s water based inks. Now, we have a choice.
Granted, if you want to do wide format printing (over 19” wide that is), your choices are very different than us desktop sublimators but so are the printers. These comments apply only to those who can live (or can’t afford to go beyond) a 19” wide printer.
I have personally used just about every Epson printer ever used for sublimation. From the very first Epson 600 to the 4880. Some of the printers were very, very good and a few were just plain dogs. In either case, it is all we had and we were glad to have them.
Then came Ricoh. I admit, I was doubtful. That was just what we needed, another printer. At least we had all heard of Epson. How many people had ever heard of Ricoh? Wasn’t Ricoh a camera manufacturer?
But OK, I got one, a GX5050 (now discontinued). Then I tried the GX7000 and even the entry level GX e3300N. WOW! These printers were amazing! It took me six months of abusing them to really appreciate how good they were. And I mean I “abused” them, especially the first one. I let it sit for weeks and months on end with no activity. I ran paper through that thing relentlessly. I compared the resulting images with the best Epsons. I even took a magnifying glass to them. I checked the number of prints per cartridge, I ran color checks and I tested for consistency. I tested the PowerDriver and I tested Condé’s ICC profiles. In short, I did everything I could think of to cause this printer to fail. After all, I had worked with all the Epsons through the years and I knew by experience not to abuse them. They would fail at the drop of a hat. Clogging heads, multiple cleanings, nozzle checks three and four times a day, weird changes in color right in the middle of a printout or banding (both caused by a clogged print head).
Now, I don’t want to tell you that if you switch over to a Ricoh, you will never have a problem for as sure as I do, you will. But I can tell you this much: I have used the Ricohs since they were introduced. I had one printer finally fail and it was replaced immediately by Ricoh. As for the three I have now, they turn out some amazing stuff. I use a GX7000 for my sublimation needs. I have a GX5550 to replace my GX5050 that finally died to all my office printing needs and I have taken the smaller GX e3300N to my home office where my wife goes through ink like it grew on trees printing pictures of our grandchildren. I never have clogging issues – period. Now, they may start tomorrow but thus far, those printers come to life every time I call on them. I do run Harvey’s Head Cleaner every night on my sublimation printer as insurance against clogging and just to keep the printer healthy but I don’t think I have ever had to do a cleaning on any of the three printers I own.
I just don’t understand what the debate is about when selecting a printer. In my mind, there is no question: Buy a Ricoh. If you can afford it, buy the GX7000 but that GX e3300N is doing a great job, it is just limited in size and costs a bit more to use since the cartridges are smaller. I don’t know how long a printer will last: Two years, three, four, ten? My crystal ball doesn’t work that well so I invested in a replacement policy to insure that I could at least get two years out of mine. That means the printer itself can never cost me more than about $500 per year and I can live with that.
There is just no way I can convey now nice it is to send a job to my Ricoh and not have the frustration that came with the Epsons. No clogging, great color, faster than a speeding bullet and easy on ink. Finally, a printer I can honestly say I love.
Sure, it is only a four color printer where some Epsons are eight and I know all the hub-bub about better color from an eight color printer but I know this too: when I look at the dazzling results I get from the Ricoh, I don’t know how you could want more. Sure, I compared them and as I have said already, I couldn’t see any difference.
Buy a Ricoh, you’ll be glad you did!


HARVEY HEAD CLEANER

May 13th, 2011

By Steve Conde

If you don’t have a copy of Harvey Head Cleaner loaded on your sublimation computer, you should. Here’s the scoop: The number one problem people encounter with sublimation printers is clogging and clogging is most often caused by inactivity. Leaving your printer idle for a week at a time, even several days used to be an absolute “no-no”. With the advent of Ricoh printers, this problem has been greatly reduced to the point many of us are becoming careless and complacent about using our printers. That kind of attitude will, sooner or later, come back to bite us.

We need to be vigilant about using our sublimation printers every day or two, even if it is nothing more than running a nozzle check. The problem is, time gets away from us. We are busy doing other things and before we know it, a week has gone by with so sublimation activity – then two and then three.

That’s what Harvey Head Cleaner does for us – it runs a single nozzle check automatically. I set mine up to run in the middle of the night so when I come in, there is a printout waiting for me. A quick glance and I know my printer is ready to go. If there is a problem with one of the heads, I can deal with it long before it becomes serious. I will admit that since I have moved to the Ricoh GX7000, I don’t think I have ever run a nozzle check that wasn’t perfect – if I have, it has been very few – nothing like the days when I was running Epson printers!

So here are my recommendations: One, no matter what printer you have, order a copy of Harvey Head Cleaner from Condé and install it on your sublimation computer. You can set it up to run automatically as often as you want or need it (I suggest daily but at least every other day). To save money on paper, I always try to unload the sublimation paper from my printer and store it properly and put regular copy paper in its place. You can even reuse the printouts by turning them over if you want to.

Each nozzle check will use a tiny bit of ink – nothing to be concerned about but it does use ink. This leads us to the question of, “What if I know I won’t be using my printer for two or more weeks at a time?” Doesn’t that ink count up? And the answer is, “yes”. If you are running a Ricoh printer and you don’t expect to use it for more than say 10 days, turn it off. If you are running an Epson printer, I would suggest you never turn it off and you run those nozzle checks every single day without fail.

Is it apparent that I really like the Ricoh printers? Well, I do. Like you, I got very tired of always fighting those Epson printers. If you have not made the change over to one of the Ricoh printers yet, let me encourage you to do so just as fast as you can. If you are a heavy user, the GX7000 is the only one for you. You might even consider the adapter that allows you to print up to 19” wide and an extra drawer for paper. If you are a small user, the GX e3300N is performing very well and the price tag is under $500 with ink! These printers are fast, dependable and a joy to work with. The ICC profiles from Condé give outstanding color and are easy to load and use (ok, commercial over but I would be amiss if I didn’t tell you how great these printers are).