The Ultimate Guide To Sublimation and Its Process
Sublimated prints look great and all but, have you ever wondered what sublimation is and how it works?
No matter what you are printing—business cards, T-shirts, or home décor—sublimation is the most inexpensive, accurate and long-lasting form of creative expression. It is the best known process for creating long-lasting, perfectly printed items. It has also been used to create high-quality textiles, signage displays, and home décor with vibrant colors and images that will never fade over time.
But, what is it and why is it widely used in the industry? In this blog post, we will discuss the steps involved in the process of sublimation and why it has become an important tool for many industries today!
How does sublimation printing services work?
Although the name may make it seem like an intensive and complex process, the process of dye sublimation printing is actually quite simple.
The dye sublimation process is simple. You can start by creating an image on your computer and printing them in special transfer paper and ink. After that, you can proceed by pressing the image on clothes while applying heat. In this process, the ink turns a solid into a gas without going through the liquid phase. When exposed to low pressure, they will then turn from particles into a vapor.
After the sublimated particles are cooled, they will turn back into solid which makes peeling them away with permanent full color image possible. Note that they only work on polyester and substrate.
Hmmm. Is that a little too science-y for you? To make the explanations shorter, you just have to print an image using sublimation printer and transfer paper. Then, apply heat and pressure wen transferring the image to your product and wait until the print are all transferred. Wait for it to cool and there you go! You have an amazing personalized product now!
Where can you use sublimation?
Sublimation printing is a great way to create promotional pieces, business cards, and logos! It also allows for the transferring of designs onto fabric.
The process of sublimation has been used in a variety of industries over time as it offers some wonderful benefits such as vibrant color quality with no fading or running through the use of ink-jet printing. Utilizing the sublimation process in your business is a great way to create high-quality products that will last for years without fading.
You can also use it in different materials which include:
One of the most versatile ways to add decoration to your home is through sublimation printing. It’s effective on many materials like fabric, curtains, and upholstery because it works on rigid substrates. With sublimation, you can print on glass, plastic, fiberglass, and aluminum.
Signage and advertising
Looking to make your company stand out from the crowd? Sublimation has you covered. Sublimation is a unique process to add rich colors and allow the use of unique materials. Sublimated banners are backlit for extra effect, making them excellent options for trade shows or anywhere you want something that pops out at people in a way regular prints can’t match.
Personalized Items & Keepsakes
Want to add a personal touch to your gifts for clients or loved ones? Sublimation printing is used to create custom coffee mugs and keychains. However, it can also be applied on surfaces such as picture frames, boards, tags, or metal plates which makes everything more special as gifts.
Clothing and Apparel
Sublimation printing is a great technique for adding prints of your own design to clothing. Sublimation-printed dresses and ties are popular among fashionistas as it offers more freedom to print and design. It’s also common in sports uniforms because it feels and looks better than other prints! It is also really durable too!
What are the materials that you need for sublimation printing?
You already know what types of personalized materials you can create with dye sublimation printing services. Now, let’s now talk about the materials that you’ll need to make the process possible. Here are some of the things that you have to prepare:
1. Sublimation Printer
Above all, I can say that the most important thing that you need to secure is the sublimation ink printer. While there are industrial and commercial types, you can also avail printers that work for both home and factory use. Nowadays, you can have way cheaper products with significantly reduced prices than years ago.
And, before you start asking me, “But, won’t cheap ones be less effective than expensive ones?” The answer is YES and NO.
The printer and ink plays a great role in the quality of the sublimated product. Ever wondered why great printing shops invest in expensive high-quality printer brands? Yeah, that’s the reason. However, using cheaper products but with great printing techniques and expertise will also produce quality sublimations.
2. Sublimation Paper
With a sublimation printer, you’re able to create and transfer any desired spectrum of color onto printing paper. This type of paper is what we call ‘sublimation paper’ or ‘transfer paper’. Their quality doesn’t significantly vary depending on the brand so you don’t need to spend so much on them. You can use these types of papers for personal work, customized logos, family pictures or whatever design you want.
3. Cutting Mechanism
In order to create original fabric items through all over dye-sublimation t-shirt printing, one would need a cutting device. This may be a knife or rotary blade. You can find some cutting devices with more than one option included in the system that is suitable for all needs. For example, there are systems that include an automatic hemmer attached to sewing machines that make it easier to sew and cut fabric.
4. Computer & RIP Software
Some sublimation printers require software on top of the printer in order to print out what you want. These special computer programs are called RIPs or Raster Image Processors. There are different types of these. For example, some have the capability to change colors of an image on a screen while others can’t. The program needs to be compatible with the type of printer being used, so it is important to make sure your particular model can do this before purchasing one.
5. Heat Press
Last but not the least, you need a heat press. After printing, you will use this for the next step to apply pressure and heat to transfer the ink. This way, moving the design from the sublimation paper onto the desired material is made possible. This helps in creating products with more vivid and colorful images that are resistant to fading and cracking. Sublimation transfers come in different sizes, models and prices depending on your needs.
6. Sublimation Workspace
While choosing the right printer and heat press is extremely important, you should also make sure that you have appropriate workspace for sublimation. You need to consider the sizes of equipment and products you will use to make everything organized. When starting my business, I note down the essential things for choosing my space:
- Separate sublimation equipment like printer, heat press, and others from each other.
- Have a staging area where you can prepare the products that need to be sublimated.
- Ensure a clean and well-ventilated product and cooling area for your sublimated products.
- Prepare natural lightings that will help you identify the correct colors for printing.
Types of Heat Press
You are right! There are different types of heat press in the market and you should find one that fits your needs. Note that sublimation requires precise pressure and temperature, making the quality, brand, and type of heat press very important. To help you find the best one, we noted the heat press types that you can choose from and their functions.
Calendar Heat Press
Printing with sublimation on larger, more flexible material such as textiles is best for a calendar heat press. This machine accommodates printing on signs and banners in addition to all over dye-sublimation t-shirt printing.
Small Heat Press
If you are only looking to sublimate smaller, handheld items, such as a small cup or mug, a small heat press might be best for your needs. This type of press can accommodate pressing different types of items without taking up too much space.
Flatbed Heat Press
One of the most popular types of heat press machines is a flat-bed style machine that allows for large, uninterrupted printing. It comes in two styles: clam-shell and swing-sway. This type often has an adjustable pressure setting and integrated stand to allow for hands-free operation. They are perfect for sublimation on products like signs or banners!
Flatbed heat presses are also ideal for printing on floor tiles and another home decor. They work similarly to sublimation, but a garment would need to be taped onto the press to use it for textiles.
3D Vacuum Heat Press
For 3D objects or smaller items with more diverse shapes and edges, a vacuum heat press can be used to send these delicate things through the heated sublimation process. These machines make it possible to print on any surface whatsoever.
Personalized Heat Press Machines
Personalized heat press machines are a great choice if you’re looking for something that is more compact. These models also allow custom designs and messages with the use of sublimation on products such as mugs, keychains, or picture frames.
Dye sublimation printing services is a famous type of personalizing products due to its cost-effectiveness and convenience. But, before you start printing and pressing designs, it is important to know the right process and equipment for this.
And, if you think preparing all this equipment and learning the process is too complicated for you, we can help! Dad’s Printing offers a wide range of sublimated products that varies from garments to mugs and face masks. We also offer all over dye-sublimation t-shirt printing.