What Is Commercial Sublimation Printing?
Commercial sublimation printing is a printing technique that involves printing on a one-of-a-kind piece of paper. The image from the paper will then be transferred onto a piece of fabric in a subsequent process. This fabric is typically made of polyester or a polyester blend. The ink will be heated to a certain temperature to facilitate its transfer to the fabric.
Commercial sublimation printer can be more expensive than other printing methods. However, unlike its competitors, the printed design lasts longer and does not crack or peel off easily. Sublimation printing can be done on man-made fabrics. All you have to do is test it before embarking on a high-volume printing project.
Sublimation ink is a water-based ink dye that, when heated and compressed, transforms into a gas without leaving its liquid state. The gas version of the ink will easily bond with the polyester molecules and dye the molecules, allowing the design to be transferred without issue.
What Are The Fabrics Used For Sublimation?
Sublimation printing does not work with 100% cotton. Cotton will not be able to permanently bond with sublimation ink dyes because it is made of natural fibers. If you try to print on cotton fabric, the ink will only be temporarily transferred and will wash out. The ink dyes and natural cotton fibers cannot form a permanent bond, and the ink washes out easily.
Specialized coatings are sometimes used to allow the ink dye to bond with the cotton fabric. Specialized transfer paper can be used with cotton fabric, but the printing quality will be influenced. The specialized coatings work by injecting a polymer into the cotton fabric, allowing the ink dyes to form a permanent bond with the cotton fabric.
Polyester is an excellent fabric for commercial sublimation printer. When heated, the polymers in this type of fabric expand. When exposed to heat, the ink dye transforms into its gaseous form, allowing it to easily enter the fabric through its pores and bond once the fabric cools. Even when worn for extended periods of time, polyester does not wrinkle easily. The ink dye will easily bond with the polyester molecules, allowing for high-quality design transfer.
One disadvantage of using polyester fabric is that it is not for everyone. Polyester is not soft and can cause discomfort and itching when worn. It can withstand fewer washing cycles than cotton and other natural fibers. Polyester fibers are typically smaller than those found in natural fiber fabrics, allowing them to be easily undone. That is why the material feels uneasy and why most customers prefer blended fabrics to 100% polyester fabrics.
Polyester blends, on the other hand, are typically preferred because they are more comfortable and can last longer than 100% polyester fabric. You may experience uneven or light transfers during the sublimation printing process if you use polyester blended fabrics.
A portion of the material may bond with the ink dyes that you will be using, especially if you use a polyester blend with a lower polyester count. To ensure that the ink dye transfers, use a fabric with at least a 40% polyester count. Higher polyester count fabrics are required for high-quality transfers.
Nylon, Rayon, Lycra, and Spandex are some fabrics that work well with sublimation printing because of their durability and strength. One disadvantage is that they do not provide the same level of comfort as natural fibers such as cotton. However, when these fabrics are blended with cotton, the comfort factor for those who wear them increases.
Keep in mind that when using special fiber blends, the polyester content must be high enough. Take care not to burn the materials during the sublimation process. When compared to natural fibers, most synthetic or handmade fibers have a low burning temperature.
If you burn the material on your fabric, the image and design transferred into it during the printing process may change shape and deform. It can also cause a reduction in airflow through the fabric, which makes it uncomfortable to wear.
Before proceeding with the sublimation printing process, check with your supplier and ensure that you have tested your print settings. You must also consider other factors such as the pressure and temperature that you will use for the printing process to ensure that the entire process runs smoothly.
How Does Commercial Sublimation Printer Work?
Sublimation printing uses heat to transfer ink dyes to the fabric of your choice. You select a design and have it printed on specialized paper. Because the ink dyes will be water-based, they will easily turn to gas when heated.
When the ink dyes become gas, they bind to the fabric molecules and become permanently imprinted on it. Because the ink is bonded to the fibers of the fabric rather than simply laying on top of it, the effects will be permanent and will not fade easily.
Sublimation printing is similar to getting a tattoo. The ink will be imprinted into the fabric rather than printed onto your skin. When the fabric is heated, the pores open up, and pressure is applied to cause the ink dye to change into its gas form, which then cools to become a solid form, successfully transferring your chosen design on the fabric.
The end result will be a permanent full-color design that will not crack, peel, or wash away from the fabric. The sublimation process converts the water-based ink dye from solid to gas. The conversion occurs as a result of the heat and pressure applied to it. Sublimation printing is sometimes referred to as “all over printing” because it allows you to print a design from seam to seam. This fast printing method has become a popular digital printing method and a popular choice for small-batch printing orders, particularly for those who want detailed printing on their fabrics.