Storm Uniforms is very proud to be a forerunner of uniform manufacturing by using the chemical process of sublimation to print our uniform designs in-house, allowing us to create custom designs that match your vision for your team.
The first step in the sublimation printing process begins with art. You, the customer, are able to work closely with our graphic design team to create a design that fits your vision for your team’s uniforms.
Once a design has been developed, and is approved by you, it is sent to the printing room, where three state-of-the-art printers print the design on high-quality, custom-made white paper. Our computer software takes the custom design and prints all of the patterns for the uniforms to scale, meaning that your custom design is not distorted or altered, no matter what size of uniform is being printed. Whether the uniform is a small or an extra-large, your design will remain the same so that your team always looks its best. In order to further ensure quality products, our printers are located in a temperature and humidity controlled room in order to ensure color consistency over time, so that no matter when you order more uniforms or replacements, every uniform is the same color. The uniform designs are printed on special paper, which is rolled after being printed, so that it can be taken to the sublimation heat press machines.
Now the jerseys are ready to be printed on the fabric itself. This step is what truly sets our printing process apart from other manufacturers. Many uniform manufacturers are currently screen printing their products, meaning that a design stencil is taped onto a mesh screen. The fabric being printed is then placed below the mesh, and ink is spread across the mesh screen, appearing on the fabric beneath in the desired design. Sublimation is not a superficial printing process, like screen printing, where the ink sits on top of the fabric.
When the rolled paper has been set up on the heat press machine with the white fabric that’s being printed, the sublimation process can begin. Sublimation is the chemical process of changing a solid substance directly into a gas. The molecules of the solid do not pass into the liquid state, but directly pass into the gaseous state. This chemical process requires large amounts of heat and pressure, which is why our sublimation heat press machine contains a 16.5” oil drum which is heated to approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit, providing the heat for this chemical process to occur. At such high temperatures, the solid molecules of the printing ink on the paper, sublimate to gas molecules, and the fibers of the fabric itself expand. The gaseous ink molecules then pass through the spaces between the fabric fibers, meaning that the ink molecules have permeated the fabric, completing the sublimation printing process. When the fabric emerges, the design is printed onto the fabric, to scale, to the exact design created by you and our graphic designers.
The rolls of printed uniforms are then sent to the laser cutter, where the patterns are cut out precisely. Part of the printing process also prints small black dots, registration points, around the outside of the pattern. These black dots enable the laser cutter to “read” the fabric, ensuring that the fabric is cut straight each and every time. After the pieces of the pattern are cut by the laser cutter, those pieces, that make up each individual uniform are sent to the sewing room to be constructed.
Our sewing room contains over 35 sewing machines, staffed by over 20 sewers in order to stitch together your uniforms quickly after they are printed and cut. As the pieces are joined together, your uniforms take shape, all the while following the custom design you created with our design team.
Finally, the jerseys are packaged and shipped directly from our facility in Pennsylvania in order to arrive at your door. All the steps of the manufacturing process occur on-site at our Central Pennsylvania facility so we can oversee every step of the process and ensure quality in our products. Your vision is created and produced by one team of our workers so communication and efficiency are maximized.