What’s Going On When the Same Printing Process Produces Faded Sublimation Prints
Category : Blog
Dye sublimation printing is done by sublimating ink causing it to become a gaseous dye that permanently stains polyester molecules. Sublimation is the change from a solid or liquid to a gaseous state. It happens in nature every day, even to rocks. That’s how we smell things. We detect the vapors given off by solid or liquid objects. Dye sublimation printing harnesses this process. When the ink and paper reach 220~230℃, the ink sublimates and becomes a dye that permanently bonds to polymers.
The amount of time required varies depending on the item being dyed. While polyester apparel can by sublimated in 35 seconds, it can take four minutes to dye a ceramic tile. So for something like sportswear uniform, you’ll generally get a vivid transfer on white shirts with the standard 230℃ at 25~35 seconds. So what’s going on when the same process produces faded prints? Most are tempted to blame the printer, the ink, or the heat press. But the answer lies elsewhere.
The problem is in the polymer coating itself. Referring back to the recommended press times for ceramic tiles and polyester garments gives us a clue. Ceramic is much harder than fabric so it generally takes much longer to sublimate. But remember, we’re not actually staining the ceramic itself, but the polymer coating that’s been applied to enable decoration. The softer that polymer coating is, the more quickly it opens to the dye and allows the sublimation process to begin.
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