How to Start a Sublimation T-shirt Business?

I have always wanted to start a sublimation t-shirt business, however, I could not encourage myself to start from scratch for a long time. Until one day I decided to invest some money into good sublimation equipment. This included a sublimation printer, heat press machine, sublimation inks, and various other additional supplies.

how to start a sublimation t shirt business

This led me to start from a small sublimation printing business for beginners and grow it into one that can now support all my financial needs. In this article, I have discussed how to start a sublimation t-shirt business along with some essentials that are required to generate a high quality and attractive sublimate.

How to Start a Sublimation T-shirt Business? Sublimation Set up

What is Sublimation T-shirt Printing?

Sublimation t shirt printing is a special art of transferring the sublimate to a fabric. However, the process is not as simple as you might think and can take a lot of time and effort. In order to successfully print out the sublimate, you need to first print it on a piece of paper. After then transfer the ink to a fabric, which is polyester or cotton in most cases.

Afterward, heat is applied to the fabric to properly integrate the ink into the fabric and make it an integral part of the T-shirt. This type of printing is preferred over other types because it is long-lasting. The ink does not fade away over time even after continuous washing.

Process to Start Sublimation T-Shirt Business

First things first. You need to prepare some essentials for starting your sublimation T-shirt printing. These include a

  • Sublimation printer
  • Heat press
  • Sublimation blanks
  • Sublimation ink
  • Sublimation paper
  • Additional supplies

I have discussed all these products in detail to help you understand everything clearly.

Sublimation Printer

Sublimation printers are the most important component to start a sublimation T-shirt business. You will not be able to print out anything without a printer and therefore, should choose a performance efficient option for yourself. You will find a variety of options available in the market with unique features.

However, not everything that is shining is gold. It is important that you check the resolution of the printer. It will help you make sublimates that are clearer and offer the finest details of the design. Also, check the adjustability and versatility of the printer if you are interested in customizing the designs.

Heat Press

After you have purchased a suitable printer for yourself, then the next step is to look for a heat press. This will be used to customize the designs and paste them onto the fabric. It will also help you in integrating the ink inside the fabric as opposed to pasting it over one. It will help you generate prints that are vibrant in color and feature outstanding consistency.

Sublimation Blanks

By sublimation blanks we mean the blank objects you would be producing your sublimates on. The majority of the users prefer sublimating over mugs and keyboard pads. However, in this case, you will be using a T-shirt for sublimation. One thing you should keep in mind is that the shirt should be made up of cotton or polyester material. It will integrate the ink into the fabric completely. Other materials might not retain the ink for long and might lead to color fading over the years.

Sublimation Ink

Now it is time to discuss the sublimation inks. You will get sublimation inks when you purchase the printer one time and might need to purchase it afterward. The majority of the printers are only compatible with the ink of the same manufacturer. It may be display poor performance if you use with any other ink.

Therefore, you should pay great importance to the purchase of sublimation ink. You can also go for options that come with additional ink that can be used for up to two years. A variety of Epson printers are highly popular for their large ink tanks that can store large amounts of ink and reduce the need for frequent refills. This is the complete process how to start a sublimation t-shirt business.

Sublimation Paper

It is one of the necessary part of the sublimation printing. Sublimation paper is specially designed for sublimation printers which has a polyester coating on it. Design is transfer to this sublimation paper and then transfer it to the fabric by applying heat.

Gloves and Tape for Heat Press

When we are using heat press machine, we have required gloves and tape to adjust the design on the material at right place. We use gloves which protect our hands during heat press the material.

What T-shirts are Best for Sublimation Printing?

We highly recommend those T-shirts that are made up of polyester or 100% pure cotton to achieve the best results. Because these fabrics are capable of retaining the ink better and can easily integrate the ink into their fibers when exposed to heat. Thus, becoming resistant to color fading as opposed to other fabrics that might start to lose color after a few years of use.

Tips to Start a Sublimation T-Shirt Business

Here are some useful tips to start a sublimation t-shirt business:

Tip 1: Research and Identify Your Target Market: Conduct market research to understand the demand for sublimation t-shirts in your area or niche. Define your target audience and understand their purchasing behaviors.

Tip 2: Make a Business Plan: Make a detailed business plan of your goals, objectives, and strategies. Include a budget, financial projections, pricing strategy, and marketing plan.

Tip 3: Designs: Develop a range of appealing designs that cater to your target market. Provide options for customization, such as adding names, logos, or personalized messages to t-shirts.


Is the sublimation business profitable?

Yes, it is. Sublimation T-shirt printing is not an expensive process if you are doing it to earn money. You can generate double revenue by selling it. On average, a high quality sublimation shirt that is made up of polyester or cotton fabric costs you around $7 to $8. It depends upon the type of printer and ink that is being used. It will help you earn around $15 on a single shirt. Using other fabrics might help you reduce the cost but can greatly affect the quality of the sublimate.

How much does it cost to start a T-shirt business?

Similar to manufacturing a sublimation T-shirt, the cost of starting a sublimation printer is not extremely high. It can help you generate increased revenue that can help you cover the initial investment cost. On average you need to invest up to $1500 in order to start a sublimation business. Once your business prospers, you can expand it by investing more money.

How to print sublimation shirts?

Start by investing in essential components that are required for sublimation printing. Once you have purchased the materials, you can proceed with the printing process. Just choose a design of your choice, customize it, and use the sublimation printer to print it on paper. Then, use the heat press to transfer it onto the T-shirt and you are good to go.

Final Verdict

We have discussed it in detail that how to start a sublimation t-shirt business. A sublimation T-shirt business is not a difficult task. All you need is some initial investment money in your hand and you are good to go. Firstly, you need to invest in the equipment required for manufacturing and this step covers most of the requirements to start a business. Once you have gathered all the required items, you can proceed by producing sublimates on T-shirts. You can promote them in your local community and on social media. This will help in increasing your reach and will help you in gaining orders easily.

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