Sublimation Printing: Things to Know and Consider

Techniques/ Tips

Sublimation Printing: Things to Know and Consider

Sublimation printing uses ink or dye to transfer—or “sublimate”—artwork into a material down to a depth in which the ink and substrate essentially become one and the same. Sometimes referred to as “dye-sublimation printing,” this process has many unique elements to it, and isn’t necessarily as easy as boardwalk T-shirt shops might make it look. When using sublimation for a professional application such as a custom banner or lightbox, there are three critical considerations to keep in mind.

  1. Sublimation Printing is Not Limited to Flat Fabric

Yes, t-shirts tend to be the product most commonly associated with sublimation printing. However, a variety of other products—such as light shades, upholstery, accessories, tile and even glass—can all be sublimated.

  1. Sublimation Printing Requires a Special Printer

Sublimation printing is a two-part process on a dye-sublimation printer. To oversimply how it works:

  • We print your graphics onto the special sublimation “transfer paper” using sublimation inks, or dyes.
  • We then use a heat press to transfer the ink into the substrate.

The heat press is the critical piece of equipment used in achieving the sublimation print.

  1. Not All Heat Presses Are the Same

With sublimation printing, there are four different types of heat presses that can be used, based on the look and material desired.

  • 3D Vacuum Heat Press: This is great for smart phone accessories, ceramics, and similar items, because the 3D vacuum processes the heat transfer onto materials using a curved edge.
  • Flatbed Heat Press: Ideal for flatter, sturdier materials, such as aluminum and floor mats. However, the flatbed heat press is the one to avoid when printing on thinner materials such as fabric.
  • Calendar Heat Press: This heat press is used for physically large products, such as flags and outdoor signage.
  • Small Format Heat Press: Probably the most common of heat presses, the small format heat press functions exactly as it sounds, by being the go-to heat press for t-shirts, coffee mugs and smaller executions of sublimation printing.

Choose Duggal for Flawless Sublimation Printing

Quality materials and dyes, along with specified printers and heat presses, all play a part in achieving the perfect sublimation print. Learn more about sublimation printing at Duggal, and contact us for more info to help make your next project a success.