Inkjet sublimation paper may be more costly than something like heat transfer printing, but it creates a better looking image that can be used for years. The options of what can be printed on are much wider than with other more affordable printing procedures, leaving more room for innovation. If you want something that requires use over a short period of time, then something like heat transfer can be recommended. If you’re looking to print something that’s intended on being kept for a lengthy duration, and plan on washing it to keep it in pristine condition, then dye sublimation is the best.
Whether you’re planning on using sublimation to construct your own ideas, or if you are looking for quality made products, this information should be helpful in finding what you’re looking for. Dye-sublimation printing is a digital printing technology using full color artwork that works with polyester and polymer-coated substrates. The process is commonly used for decorating apparel including baseball caps, signs and banners, as well as novelty items such as cell phone covers, plaques, coffee mugs, and other items with sublimation-friendly surfaces. The process uses the science of sublimation, in which heat and pressure are applied to a solid, turning it into a gas through an endothermic reaction without passing through the liquid phase.
After the digital design is printed onto high quality inkjet sublimation paper, it is placed on a heat press along with the substrate to be sublimated. In order to transfer the image from the paper to the substrate, it requires a heat press process that is a combination of time, temperature and pressure. The heat press applies this special combination, which can change depending on the substrate, to “transfer” the sublimation dyes at the molecular level into the substrate. The end result of the sublimation process is a nearly permanent, high resolution, full color print. Because the dyes are infused into the substrate at the molecular level, rather than applied at a topical level (such as with screen printing and direct to garment printing), the prints will not crack, fade or peel from the substrate under normal conditions.
If one wants the best-looking printed component, dye sublimation is the way to go.By using this method, images won’t crack or wear after several uses and the visuals will last as long as needed. This is very important for using with items that will be used constantly over time. Everyday items like mouse pads, kitchenware, and custom all over print shirts will benefit from this type of printing. This is especially true with apparel and bedding, as they can be washed on a regular basis without fear of distorting their appearance.
As mentioned before, dye inkjet sublimation paper can be done on much more than fabrics, which is the restriction of just heat transfer printing. If one really wants to get creative with what they want to print on, such as creating puzzles or personalized keychains, dye sublimation is the main option to choose. It leaves countless printing opportunities that come in handy for crafting and business presentations where customization is a bonus.
Dye Sublimation vs. Heat Transfer
What is the difference between sublimation and heat transfer? The two types of printing can be confused with one another due to similarities of using heat presses, but the differences are HUGE:
The main difference is that heat transfer paper makes the design an added coat on top of the fabric material when applied with a press. Think of the cheap, overpriced merchandise you see at tourist shops when you go to the beach. The paper is very inexpensive, but that’s because it doesn’t have the quality of sublimation paper.
Heat transfer can be used on a wider variety of fabrics and is less expensive, but the result won’t look as vibrant as when sublimation is used. Heat transfer can also decrease in quality over time with cracking and fading. That is why most companies prefer using the sublimation process over heat transfer printing.
Inkjet Sublimation Paper
Sublimation transfer paper creates a result that feels like it’s part of the fabric or rigid object. This design is fully infused into the fibers or material that you are printing on which means that it won’t fade or crack over time. It doesn’t look like a cheaper sticker was heat-pressed to the material. The end result is incredible.
When so sublimation printing, there are a few limitations that must need addressing:
You cannot sublimate a white color. Due to the physics of sublimation, the chemical makeup of white pigment is incompatible. Because you cannot sublimate a white pigment, it also prevents many light colors such as yellows and pinks from reproducing correctly when not using a bright white substrate.
Sublimation requires your finished product contain polyester. Blanks designed for sublimation can have a special polyester coating applied, or it can be a fabric with a majority blend of polyester or a spray that will allow fabrics such as cotton to processed. If you use a blended polyester/cotton fabric, the image transfer will not be as vivid or vibrant. The object you are customizing can withstand up to 400F temperatures. The high temperatures required for the sublimation process, and if your items melt, it kind of defeats the purpose!