Okay, so you’ve seen all of the playmats with different arts, shapes, and sizes, but have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? I mean, what even is the magic that takes place after you’ve clicked that ‘order’ button? Well, I have, which is why I wanted to share this post with you and give you the opportunity to learn more about the process from start to finish!
My goal is to make every post as fun and informative as possible, and this is no different. That’s why I like to think of this as more of a brief breakdown of the whole process and how we go about bringing both our custom and pre-designed playmats to life! So, I’ve broken down the entire playmat creation process into 9 simple steps, which starts with what happens immediately after you’ve purchased your playmat!
Intrigued? So am I. Let’s begin!
Once you’ve chosen your desired art, size and style for your playmat and your order has been placed, the print file is immediately sent straight to production.
The Production Manager, who gets in REALLY early in the morning (around 3:30 AM), begins the production phase by adding all of the files into the print queue.
The printer then runs for a few hours, printing images onto a large spool of sublimation paper, which is used during the sublimation printing process because it has a special coating that holds the dye of sublimation inks.
Extra Note: The sublimation paper resembles normal paper at first glance, however, it's a little thicker and is strong enough to withstand higher temperatures and levels of pressure without suffering from major buckling or bends in the heat press.
From there, the press operators take the rolls of printer paper to the heat press. During this process, the heat press is preheated to 375°F.
Once the heat press has reached the desired temperature, the rolls are attached to the bottom of the press and the paper is fed into the heat press.
The images are all on the paper and sized to be a little larger than the size of the blank playmats. The blank playmats are carefully placed inside the image that is printed on the paper. This is done for all other dye sublimated products (like our mousepads and tapestries) as well.
The playmats then move through the heat press and undergo sublimation, which is the process of taking a solid and skipping the liquid phase of matter and becoming gas.
Once the ink is moved through the high temperatures, it is vaporized and converted into gas. With nowhere to go, the gas becomes trapped between the paper and the fabric of the product. With the high internal PSI of the heat press, the ink chemically bonds with the fabric, transferring the image from one place to another. In this case, onto the smooth polyester fabric that makes up the top of the playmat.
Why do we prefer the sublimation process? Check out our FAQ page for more info.
The mats then dispense out of the heat press and are cooled on racks before they are sent over to shipping, where they are packed and prepared to ship out!
Voila! Just like that, we’ve created a premium playmat with all the elements and attributes an avid gamer could ask for. Aside from their vibrant colors and sturdy design, our playmats feature a soft, sleek polyester top and strong rubber backing as well, which is ideal for smoother, swifter card movements/handling and a better grip on all surfaces.
We’ve said it before numerous times, but I’ll say it again: Since we are gamers ourselves, we would never ship out anything that we would not use. And that’s why we make it a point to craft our playmats (and all of our other products) with the same level of quality, precision, and care!
If you would like to know more about our process or have any other questions on playmats and how they are made, feel free to visit our FAQ page. You can also reach out to me and leave your message/question in the comments section below. Just hit me up and I’ll be sure to get back to you ASAP!
I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek behind the curtain of how we go about working our magic. I’m planning on making this into a series that will cover our other great accessories and products as well. So, keep an eye on our blog page for more fun How it’s Made posts!
Until we meet again,
Vince the Prince