The Benefits of Blending Technologies

With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Cheryl Kuchek is the owner of Just My Imagination DeZigns Inc. in New York and the founder of the Facebook groups Sublimation, OKI, iColor and Beyond and Sublimation for Beginners and Beyond—the first of its kind to focus on sublimation—hosting a community of digital decorators and serving as a resource to grow their business through weekly Facebook Live sessions, webinars, vendor discounts, and more. For referrals or more information, contact Kuchek directly at justmyimaginationdezigns4u@gmail.com.

As most of you know, the primary equipment you need to start sublimation is a heat press, a sublimation printer, transfer paper, and a substrate to sublimate on.

But if there’s another machine that’s coveted by sublimation folks, it would have to be the CO2 laser engraver. These machines can produce both functional and beautiful items that are professional looking and perfectly cut. Their versatility allows anyone with access to a laser cutter to quickly go into production with his or her designs, creating their own unique substrates that can be sublimated. The possibilities are endless when combining these two technologies. 

For many people that love to think outside of the box, combining the two processes is the perfect way of expressing their own uniqueness. There are also people who don’t feel like they can design. Combining these technologies can work for them as well, as there are thousands of downloadable vector files available on the internet that can be used for laser cutting, as well as graphic designs for sublimation.

Hard surface sublimation materials such as hardboard or coated woods, along with plastics such as ColorLyte film and cast or extruded acrylic, can all be cut out or engraved with a CO2 laser. Personally, I have cut clear cast acrylic to sublimate on. However, when sublimating on it, it does have a translucent appearance after pressing. 

Learn more about combining technologies in the December issue of A&E.