sublimation ink

Sublimation Printing: Useful Information You Really Need to Know

How Does Dye Sublimation Printing Work?

What Is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Dye sublimation printing is a printing technique that use heat to apply ink to a substrate (such as paper, fabric, metal, or ceramic). Dye sublimation printing is also known as sublimation printing and digital sublimation printing.

Dye sublimation printing makes use of computer technology to heat inks until they sublimate. Sublimation is a chemical process in which substance travels directly from a solid to a gaseous state without passing through the liquid phase.

The ink in sublimation printing travels directly to a gaseous state, bypassing the liquid form as it transfers to a substrate.

Three or four colors of ink are typically utilized and printed directly to the medium or to a transfer substrate such as specially designed transfer paper.

After the ink has been transferred, it returns to its solid state. Most professional printers will additionally apply a transparent protective coating to the picture to prevent smearing and spoiling the completed product’s appearance.

How Does Sublimation Printing Work?

DTG pretreatment
  1. A graphic designer uses a computer application such as Photoshop to create the needed graphics.
  2. The transfer paper is laid out on the sublimation printing by the print business, and the dye sublimation inks are used to produce the graphic on the transfer paper.
  3. The transfer paper is then placed on the medium that will eventually convey the graphic by the print studio. The graphic must be oriented toward the medium.
  4. The sublimation printer feeds the medium and transfer paper.

5. The sublimation printer’s powerful rollers, heaters, and ink spray heads generate extreme pressure and heat. Heat and pressure cause the inks to instantly evaporate from a solid to a vapor.

6.The gaseous inks saturate the media and get trapped once the heat is removed.

7.The transfer paper is carefully removed and discarded. If the print shop has to apply a protective sealer or do any additional cutting and finishing, they will do so once the printing is finished.

sublimation printing paper

What Materials Can't Be Sublimated?

sublimation printing

100% cotton.
The most frequent, and probably most surprising, material that should not be used with dye sublimation printing is all-natural fibers such as 100% cotton. The atomic structure of cotton and related fibers does not allow ink to infiltrate its structure in the appropriate way to form a crisp, long-lasting image.

Some people try to avoid this problem by using polyester-cotton blends, but this always results in premature cracking, fading, or bleeding over time.

Fabrics in dark/black
Dark materials, such as black textiles, and non-coated goods, should also be avoided. You can print on dark materials, but the images will be distorted.

One method for sublimation printing on dark materials is to print the image on a light-colored under-base, such as white vinyl. The white vinyl is then put to the material to achieve the desired effect. Fabrics in dark/black tones

Dye Sublimation Inks

 Aqueous sublimation printing ink  
The earliest inks used for sublimation printing were aqueous dye sublimation inks. Ink dyes are suspended in water in aqueous dye sublimation inks. These inks are odorless and non-toxic, and they are still widely used in the business.

In the sublimation process, print shops utilize a variety of inks, but the two primary varieties are aqueous dye sublimation ink and solvent dye sublimation ink.

Manufacturers provide aqueous dye sublimation inks that can be absorbed by polyester or solid materials. Transfer paper is frequently used as a temporary carrier of the inks during the printing process for aqueous dye sublimation ink.

Aqueous dye sublimation inks are commonly used in the following applications:

Phone cases

Tablet covers

Wood Plastic

Metal Glass


sublimation ink
sublimation ink

Solvent dye sublimation ink suspends ink pigments in an oil base. Because the chemicals in solvent dye sublimation inks have an odor, they are often reserved for outdoor use.

A volatile solvent is used as a carrier for the color components in solvent dye sublimation inks. Because the solvents are long-lasting, they are popular for outdoor products.

Solvent dyes include VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which give off a strong, disagreeable odor that might take a long time to fade. Because of the VOCs, solvent dye printing necessitates air ventilation and is not suitable for products that will be kept indoors.

Solvent dye sublimation inks are commonly used in the following applications:

  • Outdoor signage
  • Billboards
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Banners
  • Mesh

Eco-solvent inks

The advancement of ink technology has resulted in the use of more environmentally friendly solvent inks. Color pigments contained in a biodegradable solvent are used in eco-solvent inks. Because eco-solvent inks have a low odor, they will be employed in commercial stores for products that will be used and stored indoors.

UV (ultraviolet) inks
UV ink is the most recent ink version for sublimation printing. UV inks are still in their early stages of development, but they are being explored as a prospective substitute for aqueous and solvent inks because they work in most situations. These inks are created by employing monomers, oligomers, pigments, and photoinitiators.

Latex ink

Hewlett-Packard created latex dye sublimation inks (HP). Dyes suspended in water and minute polymer particles are used in latex inks. Latex inks have no odor and can be used both indoors and outdoors. HP created this ink around the same time when eco-solvent inks were introduced to the market.

sublimation printing
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