Sublimation printing is a printing technique that involves transferring a design or image onto a substrate using heat and pressure. This process uses special dye sublimation inks that, when heated, turn into a gas and bond with the polyester fibres or polyester-coated surface of the substrate.
The process begins by printing the design or image onto a transfer paper using sublimation inks. The transfer paper is then placed onto the substrate and heat is applied using a heat press. The heat causes the inks to turn into a gas, which then penetrates the fibres or surface of the substrate and bonds with them, creating a permanent and high-quality image.
Sublimation printing is commonly used in the production of items such as t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, and other promotional products. It produces vibrant and long-lasting images that are resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling, making it a popular choice for printing on items that will be subject to wear and tear.
What printers do sublimation printing?
Sublimation printing requires a specific type of printer that is designed to work with sublimation inks. These printers are called dye-sublimation printers, and they use a unique printing process that involves heating up the sublimation ink and transferring it onto the substrate.
Dye-sublimation printers come in a variety of sizes and configurations, including compact desktop printers and large-format printers that can handle wide-format printing. They are available from a range of manufacturers, including Epson, Sawgrass, Ricoh, and others.
One important thing to keep in mind is that not all printers can be used for sublimation printing. To use a printer for sublimation, it must be equipped with special sublimation inks and have a mechanism for heating the ink and transferring it onto the substrate. It’s also important to ensure that the printer is compatible with the specific transfer paper you will be using for your sublimation printing project.
What materials can be used for sublimation printing?
Sublimation printing can be used on a wide range of materials, including those made from polyester and polyester blends. Some common materials that can be used for sublimation printing include:
- Polyester fabrics. This includes items such as t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and other clothing items made from polyester.
- Ceramics. Mugs, plates, and other ceramic items can be sublimated with a special coating that allows the ink to adhere to the surface.
- Metal. Aluminium sheets and other metal surfaces can be sublimated, creating a high-quality and durable image.
- Plastic. Items made from certain types of plastic, such as phone cases and keychains, can be sublimated.
- Glass. Certain types of glass can be sublimated, creating a unique and long-lasting image.
It’s important to note that sublimation printing only works on materials that can handle the heat and pressure of the printing process. Additionally, the material must have a special coating that allows the sublimation ink to bond with the surface. For this reason, sublimation printing is typically used on items specifically designed for sublimation printing or materials that have been treated with a sublimation coating.
Sublimation printing on clothes
Sublimation printing can be used on clothes made from polyester or polyester blends. This printing technique produces high-quality, long-lasting images that are resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling. Sublimation printing on clothes can be used to create custom designs, patterns, and logos on items such as t-shirts, hoodies, and other clothing items.
To create sublimated clothing, the design is first printed onto a transfer paper using sublimation inks. The transfer paper is then placed onto the polyester fabric and heat is applied using a heat press. The heat causes the inks to turn into a gas, which then bonds with the polyester fibres, creating a permanent and vibrant image.
It’s important to note that sublimation printing can only be used on light-coloured polyester fabrics or polyester blends. Darker colours and other materials, such as cotton or natural fibres, are not suitable for sublimation printing. Additionally, the fabric must be pre-treated with a special coating to ensure proper adhesion of the ink. With proper preparation and execution, sublimation printing can produce high-quality and durable designs on clothes that can withstand multiple washes and regular wear and tear.
Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.