Sublimation printing is a unique way of printing method that became so popular in recent times. Because of its ability to print wide range of materials it has first choice for big industries like Textile, home décor and personalized gifts etc. In this blog we will explore the meaning of sublimation printing, history of sublimation printing and things to check before sublimation printing. We will also explore important topics like sublimation printing process, its types, difference between sublimation printing v/s other printing methods, sublimation printing pros & cons, fabrics used in sublimation printing, latest trends in sublimation printing, list of best machines for sublimation printing, different products we can sublimate and last but not least from where to get your sublimated product. So let’s start the roller coaster ride of Sublimation printing.
- Sublimation Printing Meaning
- History Of Sublimation Printing
- Things to check before sublimation printing
- Process of Sublimation printing
- Types of Sublimation printing
- Difference between sublimation printing v/s Other printing methods
- Advantages and disadvantages of sublimation printing
- Fabrics that used in sublimation printing
- Sublimation printing latest trends 2023
- List of best affordable machines for sublimation printing
- Other products that can be used in sublimation printing
- Where to get your sublimated products
“The term “sublimation” originates from the Latin term “sublimare,”meaning to elevate or raise”
Sublimation printing meaning
Sublimation printing is a way of printing designs on various materials like fabrics, metal, and ceramics using heat and unique inks. Which sets sublimation printing apart from other printing methods is that it allows for detailed, full-color designs to be transferred onto the material in a smooth, flat way without creating any raised texture. The process involves turning ink into a gas that binds with the material fibers, creating a permanent print that won’t peel or fade over time. Sublimation printing is commonly used for creating personalized products like t-shirts, mugs, and phone cases.
“Sublimation printing was first introduced commercially in the 1950s, and was initially used for printing images on paper and fabrics”
History of sublimation printing
Sublimation printing is one of the new printing method that became so popular, specially in recent years. During 1950s and 1960s, when a group of scientist trying to transfer images onto synthetic materials sublimation printing method was created.
The process involves printing a design onto a special transfer paper using sublimation ink. The transfer paper is then placed onto the material to be printed and heat is applied, causing the ink to sublimate, or turn into a gas. The gas then permeates the fibers of the material and solidifies, creating a permanent and vibrant image.
Basically, sublimation printing primarily used to create print on material like plastic, metals and ceramics etc. But, constant advancement in technology made possible to use sublimation printing on wide range of materials for example fabrics like polyester.
In present days, sublimation printing is a best choice for creating custom jersey, promotional items, and personalized gifts. It offers a high level of color accuracy and durability, that’s why it’s a great choice for designs that require vibrant colors and long-lasting wear.
“The process of sublimation printing performs optimally on fabrics made of polyester, as the colorant particles create a connection with the polyester filaments.”
Things to check before sublimation printing
Before sublimation printing, there are several things that you should check to ensure that your prints come out perfectly. Here are some of the most important points to be noted before sublimation printing.
1. Material compatibility :
Sublimation printing works best on materials that have a high polyester content, as the ink needs to bond with the fibers of the material. Make sure that the material you’re planning to print on is compatible with sublimation printing.
2. Color accuracy :
Sublimation printing allows for full-color designs, so it’s important to make sure that the colors you’re using in your design are accurate and will translate well to the material you’re printing on.
3. Printer settings :
The settings on your sublimation printer can also impact the final result of your print. Make sure that the printer settings are optimized for the material you’re printing on, and that the ink cartridges are properly installed and functioning correctly.
4. Quality of the material :
The quality of the material that you’re printing on can also impact the final result of your print. Make sure that the material is free of any stains, dirt, or debris that could interfere with the transfer process.
5. Heat press settings :
The temperature and pressure of the heat press machine are critical factors in sublimation printing. Make sure that the heat press is set to the correct temperature and pressure for the material you’re printing on, and that the transfer paper is properly aligned on the material.
By checking these things before sublimation printing, you can ensure that your prints come out perfectly every time.
“Sublimation printing generates vivid and enduring hues, as the pigment infiltrates the threads of the cloth instead of resting on its surface. This also means that the image will not crack or peel over time”
Process of Sublimation printing
Sublimation printing is a printing technique that transfers ink onto a substrate, usually fabric, using heat and pressure.
Step 1 –
- The process starts by printing an image onto transfer paper with sublimation ink.
Step 2 –
- The transfer paper is then placed on the fabric and both are inserted into a heat press.
Step 3 –
- The heat press applies both heat and pressure to transform the ink from a solid to a gas, which then infuses the fibers of the fabric.
Step 4 –
- This creates a permanent bond between the ink and the fabric, resulting in vivid and long-lasting images.
Remember It –
Sublimation printing became more operative on synthetic fabrics like polyester. where the ink connect smooth with the material. This technique produces detailed and vibrant images with a soft and flexible texture. Sublimation printing is majorly used for printing on items like t-shirts, phone cases, and mugs. The process requires specialized equipment, such as a heat press and a printer with sublimation ink, which makes it more expensive than other printing methods.
“Sublimation printing is deemed as an environmentally sustainable printing option, as it generates fewer refuse materials and employs less water in contrast to traditional printing techniques.”
Types of Sublimation printing
Sublimation printing is a process where heat and pressure are used to transfer a design onto a material, such as fabric or metal. There are mainly two types of sublimation printing:
Sheet-fed Sublimation Printing :
In this method, the design is printed on a special paper which is known as sublimation transfer paper, using an inkjet printer that uses dye-sublimation ink. The paper is then placed on the material, and heat and pressure are applied to transfer the design onto the material.
Roll-to-Roll Sublimation Printing :
In this method, the material is fed through a printer that uses dye-sublimation ink to print the design directly onto the material. This is commonly used for large-scale production of banners, flags, and other large format products.
Both methods of sublimation printing result in vibrant and long-lasting prints that are resistant to fading and cracking. Sublimation printing is widely used in the apparel, home decor, and promotional products industries.
“Dissimilar to other printing methods like screen printing and heat transfer vinyl, sublimation printing empowers high-quality prints with full-color and photographic precision that are sleek to the touch and lack apparent texture.”
Advantages and disadvantages of sublimation printing
1. Vibrant and Long-lasting Prints :
Sublimation printing produces vibrant and long-lasting prints that are resistant to fading and cracking.
2. Versatility :
Sublimation printing can be used on a wide range of materials, including polyester, ceramics, metals, and plastics, making it a versatile printing method.
3. Eco-friendly :
Sublimation printing is an eco-friendly printing method, as it does not require the use of water or produce any waste.
4. No Color Limitations :
Sublimation printing allows for unlimited color options, as it uses a CMYK color model that can produce any color combination.
1. Limited Materials :
Sublimation printing can only be used on materials that are suitable for sublimation, such as polyester, which limits its application on certain types of fabrics or other substrates.
2. High Initial Cost :
Sublimation printing requires specialized equipment, such as printers, ink, transfer paper, and heat presses, which can be expensive to acquire.
3. Limited Design Placement :
Sublimation printing is limited to flat surfaces or surfaces that can be curved to fit onto a heat press, making it unsuitable for printing on irregular or non-flat surfaces.
4. Limited Ink Penetration :
Sublimation ink only penetrates the surface of the material, which means that it may not be suitable for materials that require a deep and thorough ink penetration, such as denim or cotton.
“The optimal performance of sublimation printing is on polyester fabrics due to the formation of a bond between the dye particles and the polyester fibers.”
Fabrics that used in sublimation printing
Here are some of the most common clothes that are compatible with sublimation printing:
Polyester T-shirts :
Sublimation printing is commonly used to create custom polyester T-shirts that are breathable, lightweight, and moisture-wicking.
Polyester Polo Shirts :
Polo shirts made of polyester or polyester blends are also popular for sublimation printing, as they offer a more formal and professional look than T-shirts.
Polyester Hoodies and Sweatshirts :
Hoodies and sweatshirts made of polyester are also suitable for sublimation printing, as they provide a comfortable and casual look that is popular among younger audiences.
Polyester Sportswear :
Sportswear made of polyester or polyester blends, such as soccer jerseys, basketball uniforms, and running shirts, are often decorated with sublimation printing due to their moisture-wicking properties and durability.
Polyester Jackets :
Lightweight and durable polyester jackets, such as windbreakers and raincoats, can also be printed using sublimation printing, creating a unique and eye-catching look.
Other synthetic fabrics that are suitable for sublimation printing include nylon, spandex, and Lycra. It is not recommended to use sublimation printing on natural fabrics such as cotton or silk, as they do not have the necessary polymer structure to bond with the sublimation ink. However, there are some specialty sublimation papers available that allow for sublimation printing on cotton, but the results may not be as vibrant or long-lasting as on polyester.
“As there is a surging demand for personalization and customization, sublimation printing is anticipated to sustain its popularity as a printing method in the forthcoming years.”
Sublimation printing latest trends 2023
Sublimation printing is a technique that employs heat and pressure to transfer designs onto various materials such as ceramics, fabrics, and metals. Recently, there have been several notable advancements in sublimation printing technology and practices. These are some of the latest trends:
The capability to customize products on-demand is one of the most significant trends in sublimation printing. Thanks to technological improvements, businesses can now provide personalized products, such as custom t-shirts, mugs, and phone cases, with ease.
The emphasis on sustainability is another significant trend. Sublimation printing uses eco-friendly, water-based inks, and some companies now employ recycled polyester fabrics for printing.
All-over printing :
Another trend is all-over printing, where the print covers the entire surface of the product, not just a small area. This technique has become popular with custom apparel and home decor products.
Digital textile printing :
Sublimation printing has also played a significant role in digital textile printing, which involves printing designs directly onto fabrics. This technology enables companies to create unique designs quickly and efficiently.
High-quality prints :
Sublimation printing technology has progressed significantly, resulting in higher quality prints. Dye-sublimation printers now offer sharper images, more vibrant colors, and higher resolutions than ever before.
These are some of the latest sublimation printing trends that you can share with someone. Sublimation printing is an exciting and versatile technology that continues to evolve, and these trends represent only a few of the many developments occurring in the field.
“The size and complexity of sublimation machines can range from compact desktop units to extensive industrial-scale machines that have the ability to print on substantial sheets of material.”