I just recently added a wide-format HP DesignJet Z6 printer to my collection of printers. This is the 3rd printer I now own. One an Epson sublimation printer and the other being an A3+ Canon photo printer. Slowly but surely, I'm adding bit by bit to my design business.
Recently I was contacted by a lady looking for some help. Basically, she was thinking about getting into the personalization business and she was asking what equipment she needed and where I sourced some of the products that I use. So, I gave her a bit of information and I hope it helps her on her way. It took me a lot of searching and quite a bit of money along the way in attempting to find the best suppliers for certain products and I'm going to share them with you here.
Sourcing certain products in Ireland can be a problem for graphic designers. I think we are way behind our UK neighbours in terms of suppliers and manufacturers.
I have been selling personalised products now for four years and the equipment I have bought has all been from the UK and if you do manage to find that printer or vinyl cutter in Ireland it is probably a good bit more expensive than purchasing the same piece of equipment from the United Kingdom.
So, if you're a graphic designer living in Ireland looking for a new printer, or you're looking to get into t-shirt printing or the sign-making business. I'm going to share with you the best places I believe you can source your products.
Wide Format Printers
Paper and Supplies
Wide Format Printers
Getting a Wide Format Printer is a big deal. They are a big investment and for that money, you want to make sure you are dealing with a customer service that is fast to responded and are willing to answer your questions honestly. For my HP DesignJet Z6 printer, I purchased it from a company in the UK called Graphic Design Supplies (graphicdesignsupplies.co.uk). They have a really well-organised website and supply everything from printers to guillotines. Furthermore, they are very fast to respond to any queries that you may have. After I purchased the printer from these guys, I had it delivered in about 4-5 days.
Sublimation Printers and Vinyl cutters
MDP Supplies have a few locations throughout the UK and one of those is based in Northern Ireland which is great for getting next-day delivery in Rep of Ireland.
These guys supply loads of equipment and materials if you're looking to get into the sign-making business as well as offering vinyl for applying to apparel.
MPD Supplies also offer a good selection of heat presses, mug presses, and even baseball cap presses. As well as all this they supply a good selection of heating elements that allow you to sublimate to different size mugs, bottles, plates, and lots more.
I have only recently started to make canvas at the time of writing this article but the best I have found these guys seem to offer everything to get you up and running.
In fact, they offer starter packages to get the ball rolling and it's the place I go to when I need stretcher bars, canvas rolls, accessories, packaging, etc.
I always go to amazon to purchase my paper as they offer the best deals and have so many user reviews meaning I always know I'm getting a quality product.
Most of my designs are printed on glossy photo paper but you have such a vast selection of options ranging from paper type to weight.
It's also great for buying in packs of 100.
The only problem I've had is sometimes the amazon packaging leaves a lot to be desired. One thing I've learned over the last few years is to inspect each corner of the paper stack for damage.
Other places of note
I'd like to name a couple of other places that I think are worth mentioning.
I purchased a Cricut Explore Air Vinyl Cutter are a company in the UK called hobbycraft.co.uk and if you're interested in getting into cardmaking or any crafty stuff they have a great selection of stuff.
Another shootout would be for signzworld.co.uk who offers a more budget selection of heat presses and mug presses than MDP Supplies.
What's really impressive though is the number of sublimation blanks they stock.
Last but not least you always have Done Deal and Adverts, Ireland's marketplace for second-hand products.
Buying second-hand will save you money on whatever equipment you need but it can be risky and you're missing out on having a warranty.
I did look at a second-hand wide format printer that was been sold locally before I bought the DesignJet Z6 but the printer was 10 years old. I decided to pay the extra thousand to have a brand new, up-to-date printer with a full warranty.
Make sure to weigh the pros and cons when making that decision. Is it going to cost you much more for a new model?
So, for any of you good folk out there looking to start up, I hope this article has been of some help to you or if you know another place worth a mention in Ireland or the UK then please give them a shout out in the comments.