What is Good Quality?

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What is good quality? It is a subjective term. Am I talking about good quality, great quality, okay quality, so-so quality? I suspect that your sense of good quality may be different from my sense of good quality, and I would bet that it is probably different for just about everybody.

It is certainly relative, and I believe that, just as everyone kind of has a different standard of what good quality is, a person’s feeling of quality is not static. It can change based on different circumstances and situations. But most importantly, I believe it changes based on education—being educated on what you are doing.

I certainly believe that we should always strive for the absolute highest quality at all times, but, it goes back to what high quality is. Many people don’t know the answer to that basic question, so, therefore, they may accept the quality they are producing, and not be aware that their quality could be much better.

So, who’s at fault for the substandard quality? I think it is a shared responsibility. I have a long history with the Dye Sublimation decoration process. You don’t need to settle for sublimated garments that have press marks all over them. You can press garments without those marks. You don’t have to have blurry images on your sublimated products. If you start with a crystal-clear digital image, you should get a crystal-clear image on your sublimated products—all the time and every time.

I learned my craft, and I do know to press the items at the correct time and temperature, and I do know to stay consistent in how I sublimate things. Oh, I make mistakes all the time, but when I do, I learn from the mistakes and re-sublimate the product. Sublimation is not a hard process to learn, but you have to know the quality level that you are shooting for.

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In the past, as a shop owner, I wanted my customers to have the best-quality products available. Working for a distributor, I have always wanted my customers to produce better quality products than my competitor’s customers. That is why I actively worked to train people in the industry, whether through articles, seminars, or social media.
I trained people to have a known target for quality. It is like shooting a bow and arrow. If you don’t know what your target is, you can never hit it. When you know where your target is, you can keep shooting at it, and you can see the progress you make as you get closer to the target. I think the most important thing I learned through the years is what a good sublimated product should look like. I know my target.

Never settle for good enough, even though someone may have told you it was fine—whether it is products, consumables, ICC color profiles, printer settings, or any of the other variables involved in your particular printing technology. If you settle for the quality you have, without knowing if you can get better, you will never have a chance at achieving the best quality possible.  Never stop learning your craft, and more importantly, learn what good quality is.

Kevin Lumberg

Kevin Lumberg is a sublimation industry veteran and expert. He led the sublimation department at Johnson Plastics for more than 13 years and ran his own sublimation gift shop for 3 years. He served as the Chief of Operations for a cut-and-sew sublimation company for 1 year before joining IIMAK, a US-based ink manufacturer.

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