As we can see sublimation printing is digital printing technology. It is used to print on polyester or other synthetic fabrics. Large-format inkjet printers using specially formulated inks are used for printing on apparel, banners, table covers, id cards, and flags. The images are initially printed on coated heat-resistant transfer paper as a reverse image of the final design, which is then transferred onto polyester fabric in a heat press operating at a temperature around 180 to 210 C.
The end result of the dye-sublimation printing process is a nearly permanent, high resolution, full-color print so it can be washed without damaging the quality of the image. Because the dyes are infused into the substrate at the molecular level, rather than applied at a topical level, the prints will not crack, fade or peel from the substrate under normal conditions.
Do you know how does it work?
Dye-sublimation printing works by penetrating the surface of the substrate with sublimation inks. Man-made materials such as nylon, certain plastics, and polyester fabrics contain polymers that when heated, enable the bonding of ink. If you looked inside a dye-sublimation printer, you would see a long roll of transparent film that resembles sheets of red, blue, yellow, and gray colored cellophane stuck together end to end. Embedded in this film are solid dyes corresponding to the four basic colors used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The print head heats up as it passes over the film, causing the dyes to vaporize and permeate the glossy surface of the paper before they return to solid form.
Once the digital sublimation printing is done, heat and pressure are applied. A heat press transfers the ink directly onto the surface. The ink on the transfer paper and the fibers within the substrate (material being sublimated) are simultaneously transferring the ink to the material/substrate. During the heat press stage the pores of these polymers open to allow sublimation ink (now in a gaseous state) to enter. After the heat is removed and the transfer paper is peeled off, what is left is a permanent, full-color graphic on the substrate.
How About the Traditional Printing?
Traditional Printing Origins
When we think of printing methods in the textile world, there are six traditional printing methods for printing onto fabric. Fabric patterns form distinct images in our mind when we see them. We can relate these patterns back to their methods of printing.
Roller Machine Printing
Created in the 18th century, machine printing with the use of color rollers was innovative for its time. It leads to the mass production of printed fabric.
Hand Block Printing
One of the earliest forms of fabric printing methods was hand block printing. With a carved design on a wooden block, ink dipped onto the block and pressed into the fabric was responsible for this method of textile printing.
An elevated form of hand block printing, pyrrhotine printing utilized wooden blocks also. This version of textile printing attempted to automate the manual process of hand block printing.
Engraved Copperplate Printing
The same method used in hand block printing with a different substrate. Copperplate printing utilized copper that carried etched designs over its surface.
Apart from digital printing, screen printing is one of the most commonly used textile printing techniques today. A squeegee pushes ink through a screen to print onto fabric in this method.
Known as direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, this process uses sublimation techniques to appear onto fabric. Sublimation printing is a subset of digital printing.
Digital Printing Quality:
Dye-sublimation printers allow you to print photo-lab-quality pictures.
In dye-sublimation printing, colors are not laid down as individual dots, as is done in inkjet printers. Individual dots can be distinguished at a relatively close distance, making digital pictures look less realistic.
Dye-sublimation printing is a digital printing technology using full-color artwork that works with polyester and polymer-coated substrates.
Digital Printing allows for cost-effective customization of small to very large banners at high quality.
Dye-sublimation printing yields beautiful and permanent colors that are embedded in the substrate or fabric, rather than printed on the surface. Images on fabric won’t fade or crack even after multiple washings. Because the ink is combined into the molecules of the fabric.
Images that have been dye sublimated onto hard substrates will not chip, peel or scratch.
Advantages of dye-sublimation over other methods of textile printing:
The images are permanent and do not peel or fade, also dye does not build upon the fabric. The colors can be extraordinarily brilliant due to the bonding of the dye to the transparent fibers of the synthetic fabric, truly continuous tones can be achieved that are equivalent to photographs, without the use of special techniques such as half-screen printing.
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