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What Is Sublimation Printing & How Does A Sublimation Printer Work?

What Is Sublimation Printing? “Sub-li-what-now?!” If you’ve ever been perplexed by the meaning of this peculiar-sounding term, your curiosity is now at an end.

No, it isn’t an underwater warship or on-screen translations that help you understand a foreign film; it’s a high-tech printing process used mostly for print on demand apparel. Today we’re going to pick it apart — we’ll cover what it is, how it works, discuss the pros and cons when to use it — and when not to.

What Is Sublimation Printing and Sublimation?

Here are some broad strokes to get us started. What Is Sublimation Printing?

A printing technique that uses ink and heat to embed a pattern into a substrate.

It’s revolutionary in the fashion industry since it makes it possible to print on the whole garment, from seam to seam.

It is possible to transfer dye onto a surface using sublimation printing by applying heat. Patterns are printed on sublimation paper and then transferred to fabric using a specialized printer. A heat press is used to permanently imprint the pattern into the cloth by applying heat and pressure.

This printing method is ideal for reproducing patterns on textiles due to its vivid color reproduction. Besides fabric, it may also be used to print on other materials, such as ceramics, plastics, and even metals, such as in the production of mugs and phone covers.

A Brief Overview of Sublimation Printing

Now we read about What Is Sublimation Printing and an overview of How to process it? In order to transfer the design to the fabric, we must first print it on sublimation paper. We can also apply the design to fabric through pressure and baking.

Transferring the design to the fabric will require a transfer paper (normally sublimation paper) (normally sublimation paper). When ink is applied to cloth, it becomes permanently attached, making the design seem fresh for longer (in contrast to other printing methods). Pressing a t-shirt or mug in an oven or press causes the pores of the cloth to dilate, enabling the ink to cool more quickly. After that, you can take the paper off the shirt (or whatever you were using) and the tension will ease.

Process of sublimation printing

Then, how does sublimation Work? Sublimation printing, on the other hand, employs heat to fuse the ink directly into the cloth.

As a first step, specialized paper is used to print a design. By reacting with the fabric and expanding into a gas when heated, the inks used to leave an indelible mark. The effects are persistent and less prone to fading since the ink is entrenched in the fabric or substrate rather than merely sitting on top like a typical print.

It’s similar to getting a tattoo, only this one is on your preferred item. First, the cloth is heated to expand its pores, and then the ink is pressed into the fabric, where it cools and solidifies again.

The finished product is a full-color picture that won’t fade, peel, or break over time. Similar to dry ice, the ink may undergo this transformation from solid to a gas without melting. Heat and pressure are responsible for starting the conversion.

More and more people are turning to this efficient digital print technology for one-off orders and intricate artwork. Because your chosen design may extend from seam to seam, sublimation printing is often referred to as “all over printing.”

Although the technique is most often associated with print-on-demand t-shirts, it is also possible to print on other materials, such as ceramic, wood, metal, etc., provided they have a particular coating to accept the sublimation inks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sublimation Printing

In this section, we will discuss all Advantages and Disadvantages of Sublimation Printing.

Advantages of Sublimation Printing

One of the most appealing features of this approach is the creative leeway it affords you in terms of design that you may not have with other approaches.

On one end of the scale, craziness is encouraged. Why not just make an entire burger out of text on a T-shirt? Or a kitty taking flight against a (gorgeously printed) backdrop of the cosmos.

You may also go for sophistication by using a picture of a well-known skyline or landscape. It’s easy to become hooked on this game since the possibilities seem to go on forever.

Having a design that doesn’t crack, peel, or fade over time is a major bonus. Your clothing will never be relegated to the back of the closet, not even after repeated washes in the washing machine.

Small-batch orders, patterns that go from seam to seam, and garments with a wide variety of possible uses are all well-suited to sublimation printing.

Disadvantages of Sublimation Printing

The main issue was how the resources were used. Only fabrics containing polyester (either pure polyester or a polyester mix) may be sublimated printed. Sublimation can technically be done on natural fibers like cotton, but the resulting print won’t be as long-lasting as it is on synthetics.

Choosing a fabric with a smaller amount of polyester in it would give it a vintage/distressed feel, which is all the rage at the moment.

White creasing is another issue that might arise. Sublimation works by printing a pattern onto white fabric, and if there are portions of the garment that are unreached by the design, they’ll remain white. This may be caused by unintentional folding or tiny quantities of moisture that build on the transfer paper.

Suitable Design for Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing shines when applied to designs with a sense of humor, such as the dramatic and almost ludicrous patterns that have been all the rage in high-end boutiques and discount department stores alike in recent years.

This tee may be filed under the headings of quirky, theatrical, and ludicrous. Thanks to sublimation printing, the effect can now be seen in its entirety. The artwork on the tee covers both front and back, and it makes use of a wide variety of bright colors.

The pattern repeated below also serves its purpose nicely. Again, the design’s emphasis on coverage means that the print continues unbroken all the way around the tee, with the ends serving as logical terminations.

Photographic prints are another design form that fares well with sublimation printing. Instead of only putting the image on the front of the garment in a rectangular form, you may cover the whole surface with the picture using this approach.

The flower is shown prominently on the aforementioned tank top, which also has a more subdued backdrop (because, hey, why not fill the entire tank top?)

Underneath, photography is also used by portraying a whole landscape on the t-shirt, which is made all the more striking by the many camera angles employed.

Sublimation is also useful when you need to add many logos or designs to a single garment. Sublimation allows for a huge number of logos to be included and printed in one go, however with conventional printing, you may be charged for each individual logo application.

Sublimation printing is not suitable for certain designs

Sublimation printing may not be the best option for designs with solid colors or intricate details that need to be placed with painstaking precision. Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing might be an excellent option for designs that use catchphrases. Using a direct-to-garment printer (DTG) is similar to using any other printer, except for T-shirts. So, the garment is printed using a specialized flatbed printer.

Sublimation may not be the best option if you just require one logo on the front of your clothing since it is more costly to “print all over” than to apply a single logo to the front.

Choosing a design that works well with the sublimation printing process and being aware of the method’s limits are both important. After considering the benefits and drawbacks of each method and reviewing the illustrative designs, you should be able to determine whether or not sublimation printing is the best option for your design.

What is the process of sublimation printing?

How does Sublimation Printing Work

In the process of sublimation printing, the dyes are first vaporized into a gas and then transferred to the printed medium. This method produces prints of exceptional beauty and lasting color vibrancy. Sublimation printing is an alternative method of imprinting graphics into textiles and other substrates. Sublimation printing—explain. Furthermore, how do sublimation printers function?

Discover everything there is to know about Sublimation Printing right now.

Sublimation printers utilize special sublimation ink and paper rather than the ink and paper required for regular inkjet printers with Explore Air 2 or Stickers Printing.

1. Get your artwork ready for printing

When using a sublimation printer, the first step is to get your design ready to print. The standard desktop publishing tools such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop may be used for this kind of printing. When you’re ready, send the file to the printer through upload. It’s easy to print anything you want by simply importing a design from your computer, social media, Google, or any other internet resource.

2. Print your Design

Starting with a digital file that includes the design to be printed is the first step in the sublimation printing process. The document is subsequently Converted into a printable format. The pattern is printed on an adhesive-coated piece of paper. Sublimation paper is the proper name for this material.

Now that your artwork is finished, you may submit it to the printer for processing. After you’ve got your artwork finished, you’ll need to get it into a format that can be read by the printer. This ensures that the printer has the proper information about which surface to print on.

3. Make a Fabric Version of your Design

Once the substrate to be printed onto is prepared, the sublimation paper is placed above it. For this purpose, a heat press is utilized to push the paper down into the substrate while also heating it. This results in the dye evaporating and the glue melting. Dye that has been vaporized is absorbed by the substrate and forms a chemical connection.

The transfer procedure involves heating the cloth so that the dye can be absorbed into it, creating a pattern that will stay for a long time. Depending on the size of your design and the cloth you’re using, this step might take as little as 10 seconds. Now your cloth will be printed with your own design! In addition, your brand-new t-shirt or phone case will not fade or peel.

4. Using a Sublimation Dryer

To complete a sublimation print job, the printed object is dried in a dryer, which functions similarly to an oven. About 30 minutes will pass before your pattern is completely locked in. Drying is a crucial step if you want your finished product to have vivid colors that won’t fade over time, since the heat from the dryer is what really converts the dye into a solid.

So long! Complete sublimation printing from start to end is what you just experienced. In the end, you’ll have a whole new look that stands the test of time and usage!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of sublimation printing?

The most notable advantage is that the colors and details of your drawings will not fade or break over time. Also, you may print anything you wish without worrying about it being too big or too little for the material you’re using. Everything is transferred to a single surface, thus there is no risk of patterns being mutilated during production. Because of this, sublimation printing is ideal for making one-of-a-kind works of art that express your personality.

Are there any drawbacks to sublimation printing?

The most significant negative of this method is the length of time required to master it. If your printer can’t handle high-quality transfers on its own, add more time to the process. In order to get the best results from most printers, you need to have some expertise with them. However, this is a minimal cost to pay for prints that retain their vivid colors and striking design for years to come.

How do I make sure my art is ready for sublimation printing?

There are a few things you can do before beginning the design process that will greatly improve the final printed product. To begin, it’s recommended that you choose hues that are darker than the substance you’ll be working with. In this method, the hue will retain its vibrancy over time, even when exposed to light. The use of contrasting, bright hues is often helpful. For instance, when printed on a black backdrop, the use of orange, yellow, and green works well.


What Is Sublimation Printing? To sum up, Sublimation Printing is a state-of-the-art printing method that utilises heat and pressure transfer to print high-quality images on a variety of substrates. Any design may be printed with the sublimation method without worrying about coverage or incompatibility with the substrate.

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