With millions of Americans displaced from their day to day jobs, more people than ever are looking for new business opportunities. A desktop dye sublimation printer is a tried and true career starter. Perhaps it’s good timing then that Sawgrass has released the newest version of their Virtuoso desktop dye sublimation printers. And they’ve made it easier than ever to get started in digital decoration and personalization. The next generation of Sawgrass Virtuoso printers comes with more tools to help make you successful, including design templates, wireless printing, online training and business development resources. More than ever, a Sawgrass Virtuoso sublimation printer is a business in a box. If you’re looking for new opportunities to turn creativity into growth, read on.
Sawgrass Virtuoso Overview
Sawgrass has been a leader in sublimation ink development for over 30 years. Sawgrass inks are made in the USA and specially formulated for use in Sawgrass Virtuoso printers. The Virtuoso product line is a fully integrated solution that provides for complete harmony between the ink, hardware, and software for seamless end-to-end color management.
The Sawgrass Virtuoso system consists of the Virtuoso desktop dye sublimation printers, SubliJet UHD ink, and Sawgrass Print Manager software. The Virtuoso printers use a unique, gel-based ink that virtually eliminates the clogged nozzles and maintenance issues common to traditional inkjet printers. Sawgrass UHD sublimation ink is better than ever, delivering richer, more vibrant color on both hard and soft substrates, including some heat-transfer vinyl products made specially for sublimation.
The Virtuoso experience goes beyond ink and printer. Since many people use sublimation as their entry into the exciting world of digital decoration, Sawgrass offers a complete end user support system including free design templates, the new Sawgrass Academy online training, and online business building resources. That’s why they call it a business in a box. You might be wondering what sublimation is and what you can do with it. So before we dive into the details, let’s take a step back and review the basics.
Dye Sublimation Process and Applications
Dye sublimation is a process that turns ink into a dye that permanently bonds to certain surfaces. The transformation occurs at specific temperatures that require the use of a heat press. Sublimation printers apply sublimation ink to special transfer paper. The paper is pressed to fabric or hard surface items and heated to about 400°F. When the transfer paper is removed, the printed image is left on the item.
The essential ingredients are a desktop dye sublimation printer, sublimation ink, a heat press and a compatible item to decorate. Not all printers are suitable for sublimation. Sublimation only works on polymers, so the compatible fabric is 100% polyester (FIG 1). Compatible hard-surface items are polymer-coated blanks that can be heated to the requisite temperatures. Coated ceramic mugs work. Un-coated mugs, and coroplast sign blanks don’t. Take heart. There are thousands of polymer-coated sublimation blanks available to supply the sublimation market.
As noted above, sublimation applications fall into two basic categories: fabric and ‘hard surface’ decoration. Because this is a direct-transfer using process color ink, the best fabrics and blanks are white, pastel, or silver. Common garment decoration applications for sublimation include custom fashion and ‘athleisure’ apparel, sportswear, and, most recently, face masks. The hard surface sublimation market is vast and varied. Popular sublimation applications for these items include ceramic mugs, cell-phone covers, plaques, mouse pads, bracelets, coasters, and small signage. For more details on how sublimation works, including suggested time and temperature settings for various items, check out our Basic Guide to Dye Sublimation.
What’s New in the SG500 & SG1000?
The new Virtuoso models are the SG500 and SG1000. They replace the original Virtuoso branded printers, the SG400 and SG800. New features include wi-fi connectivity, reconfigured ink cartridges and better print quality. There’ s a new 4880 x 1200 dpi print mode that addresses the needs of users like photographers who want to ‘wow’ their customers.
SG500: The SG500 is a letter-size desktop printer that replaces the SG400. The SG500 prints up to 8.5” x 14”. The optional multi-bypass tray takes that up to 8.5” x 51”. The SG400 bypass tray is compatible with the new printer. The new 20ml UHD Starter Install kit lowers the price of entry. Based on average usage, the Starter Install kit gives you enough ink for about 100 letter-size transfers. The Standard Install kit includes 31ml per channel. SIGNWarehouse offers all SG500 printers with 90 days of complimentary Gold Customer Care. Longer-term Gold support packages are also available. You also have access to the Sawgrass global technical support network for expert assistance virtually anytime you need it.
SG1000: The SG1000 is a tabloid printer that replaces the SG800. Maximum supported sheet sizes are 13” x 19” in the standard configuration and 13” x 51” with the optional bypass tray. Sawgrass offers the SG1000 with Starter, Standard, and Extended Install kits. The cartridges in the UHD Extended Install kit hold 70ml per color. An SG1000 with the Starter Install Kit can be yours for under $1500 and comes with a full year of complimentary Gold Customer Care.
UHD INK: The SG400 and SG800 inherited a staggered ink configuration from the commercial printing industry. The black cartridges held 20% more ink than the CMY carts. Sawgrass found that Virtuoso users don’t lean so heavily on black ink, so they redesigned the ink delivery system. Now all four channels hold the same amount of ink. UHD ink has the same UV resistance as SubliJet HD, but the black is more neutral and the overall gamut is more vivid. The SG500 & SG1000 are also fully compatible with Siser EasySubli ink.
SPM, CS, GO: Everything around the Virtuoso ink and printer have been enhanced to make it easier for you to be successful. Virtual Print Manager has been updated and rebranded as Sawgrass Print Manager. SPM is a software utility that works in the background, managing the flow of color information from your digital artwork to your Sawgrass printer. This reduces wasted ink (saving you money), and ensures the colors on your finished products are as accurate and vibrant as possible.
CreativeStudio: To help new designers get up to speed quickly, Sawgrass still offers CreativeStudio design templates (FIG 2). With built-in product templates, thousands of ready-to-use designs, and seamless integration with your Sawgrass printer, CreativeStudio takes the frustration out of creation. An individual account is included with every Sawgrass printer purchase, and premium membership is available for unlimited access to additional features and artwork. One other change was made in the name of efficiency. Instead of including a CreativeStudio license and help documents on the thumb drive, the new UHD install kits include only the ink cartridges. All the software anad support documents are available from the Sawgrass support portal.
GO Expression: Once you’ve mastered designing graphics in Creative Studio, printing with your new Virtuoso printer, and making cool custom items, the next thing you’ll need is a way to reach customers. Not a problem. Your registration also includes access to GO Expression, an online marketplace developed specifically for Sawgrass users. GO Expression allows you to sell those customized designs to anyone in the world, at no additional cost to you. If you don’t have the time to create the products you sell, you can easily outsource your orders with GO Exchange. This online service automatically assigns orders to qualified producers as close as possible to your buyer.
With all of these new features and business-building tools, you would expect to pay a little more for the new Virtuoso printers. But you’d be wrong. Despite adding Wi-Fi, higher-quality print modes, more vivid UHD ink, and a whole suite of design, production, and marketing resources, prices for the new SG500 and SG1000 are lower. With the new starter UHD Install kits, you can buy an SG500 for well under $600. An SG1000 with the UHD Starter Install kit and a year of Gold SW Customer Care costs under $1,600.00. We mentioned something about the current conditions. Those have disrupted just about every aspect of life and the Virtuoso has not been completely spared. The launch is underway, but deliveries have been slowed some. New printers are now being shipped with deliveries expected to ramp up by mid to late May. You can pre-order yours now and be one of the first in your town to experience the benefits of Sawgrass new ‘business in a box’. If you don’t already have a SIGNWarehouse account, you’ll need to create one in order to browse the available starter bundles. It all starts here.