What is sublimation printing and how does sublimation printing work?

If you are not familiar with sublimation printing, then this post is for you, because here we are going to discuss what is sublimation printing and how sublimation printing works.

What is Sublimation Printing?

In layman’s terms, Sublimation is the process of changing a substance from a solid form to a gaseous one without going through the usual liquid phase. It occurs only at certain temperatures and pressures and does not pass through the regular liquid state. The term “sublimation” is used to describe when a solid transition into a gas, and only refers to the physical change in state.

The Sublimation Printing Process

In order to achieve the sublimation printing process, you need three elements:

1) A piece of sublimation paper that’s specifically coated to transfer dye images.

2) A transfer printer that uses heat to activate the dyes in the sublimation paper.

3) A substrate, like a shirt, mug, or plaque, that’s made of a polyester-coated material.

When these three elements are brought together, the ink on the sublimation paper becomes a gas and is absorbed by the substrate’s pores. Once the substrate cools down, the image is permanently embedded in it.

What is sublimation printing?
What is sublimation printing?

Designs That Work Well With Sublimation Printing

Sublimation works best with designs that have a limited number of colors, as each color is transferred individually. The most common design used for sublimation is a “line art” or vector-based image because it’s easy to separate the colors. However, you can also sublimate photos as long as they meet certain requirements.

Designs That Don’t Work With Sublimation Printing

The number one rule of thumb is that your design needs to be made up of solid colors, rather than gradients or shading. If your design has too many colors, it will be difficult to separate them for the sublimation process. In addition, designs with a lot of small details won’t transfer well because the gas can’t penetrate through the paper.

Dye Sublimation Supplies 

If you’re interested in trying out dye sublimation printing, we’ve put together a list of supplies you’ll need to get started.

1) A sublimation printer: Many all-in-one printers can be used for sublimation, as long as they have the right cartridge. We recommend the Epson WF-7710 or the Ricoh Sublimation Printer.

2) Sublimation ink: You’ll need special sublimation ink that’s designed to turn into a gas at lower temperatures. CCS Inks offers a great set of sublimation inks that come in cartridges that are compatible with Epson printers.

3) Heat press: A heat press is necessary to apply even pressure and heat to the substrate. The Fancier studio Power Heat Press is a great option for those just starting.

4) Sublimation paper: As we mentioned before, you’ll need a sublimation paper that’s specifically coated to transfer images. You can find sublimation paper online or at your local craft store.

5) Polyester-coated substrate: The final piece of the puzzle is the substrate that you’ll be printing on. It needs to be made of polyester material in order for the design to transfer. You can find polyester shirts, mugs, and other substrates online or at your local craft store.

Sublimation Printing Fabric

Sublimation printing is a great way to add custom designs to fabric. The procedure is simple: print the design on the sublimation paper with a sublimation printer and inks. Next, using a heat press move the design onto the fabric. The beauty of the sublimation process is that the design becomes part of the fabric, so it won’t crack, peel, or fade over time.

Sublimation Heat Presses

In order to achieve the sublimation printing process, you need a heat press that’s specifically designed for sublimation. This type of heat press applies even pressure and heat to the substrate, which is necessary for the design to transfer.

What Are The Best Dye Sublimation Printers?

You’ll have to work with a few different aspects when selecting a dye sublimation printer. The first is whether you want an all-in-one printer or a stand-alone sublimation printer. All-in-one printers are a great option for those just starting out, as they’re less expensive and easier to use. However, stand-alone dye sublimation printers are designed specifically for the sublimation process and tend to produce better results.

Another significant feature to think about is the type of ink that the printer uses. As we mentioned before, you’ll need special sublimation ink in order for the printing process to work. Many all-in-one printers use cartridges compatible with sublimation ink, but you’ll need to ensure that the printer you choose uses the right type of ink.

Best Dye Sublimation Printers
Best Dye Sublimation Printers

Lastly, you’ll have to figure out the amount of money you want to invest in dye sublimation printers. These printers can range in price from around $200 to $2000, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs. Here are some of the top choices for sublimation printers.

Sawgrass SG500 Sublimation Printer

Sawgrass is also a renowned company for specialty printers and their accessories. In fact, the Sawgrass sublimation printer is one of the best on our list.

The Sawgrass SG500 is a great product for anyone looking to start their own sublimation printing business. It is cheaper than other professional printers, but still offers many desirable features suitable for similar applications. The Sawgrass SG500 works with the Sawgrass print manager as well as the Creative Studio Online Designer app to make creating and managing your printing documents easy.

The Sawgrass SG500 is an excellent printer for those who want quality images at a low price. This compact unit can print up to 51 inches in length and has an automated maintenance cycle to keep it running smoothly. It also comes with a 2-year warranty, which is great considering the price point.

Sawgrass SG1000 Sublimation Printer

Sawgrass makes it easy and affordable to get into sublimation with its newest entry-level model. This desktop printer can print special inks onto transfer paper of any size, up to Legal Wide (8.5 x 14 inches).

Sawgrass SG1000 sublimation printer is a portable, all-in-one printer that offers high-resolution inkjet printing using the firm’s own UHD inks, which are compatible with a wide range of substrates including polyester textiles, and polymer-coated rigid media like metal or glass. This offer includes a 21ml starter pack of ink, Sublisure A4 Paper (100 sheets), and Sawgrass Software–everything you need to get started.

EPSON Stylus C88+

Epson’s Stylus C88+ has been around for a few years and remains one of the most dependable models on the market. Its many fans appreciate its trim build, affordable price, and long-term resilience. This printer might be old but it still outperforms many newer models when it comes to screen printing, heat transfers, and art prints.

What makes this model stand out is that it can utilize both pigment and sublimation inks. This makes it ideal for businesses with multiple heat transfer systems. Plus, you won’t need dye sublimation paper–regular paper will suffice depending on your application needs. As an added bonus, if you’re working with a heat press, this printer will reduce your workload. And the best part? The sharpness of this ink-jet printer is unbeatable!

The C88+ is suited for frame-ready prints, ceramics, t-shirts, and other sublimation items. This device will meet your demands thanks to its 19 pages per minute of automated paper handling and one input tray with a 120-sheet capacity.

Epson EcoTank ET-2760 Wireless

The Eco Tank ET-2760 from Epson is a great all-in-one printer for those who are looking for an affordable and easy-to-use machine. This printer is designed for small businesses or home offices and comes with enough ink to last up to two years. With print, copy, and scan capabilities, the Eco Tank ET-2760 has everything you need in one machine.

This printer uses Eco Tank ink, which is a refillable system that saves you money in the long run. The initial investment might be higher than other printers on the market, but you’ll save money on ink in the long run. The Eco Tank ET-2760 also has wireless capabilities, so you can print from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. 1 year with monthly printing of up to 150 pages.

EPSON Workforce WF-7710

The Epson Workforce WF-7710 can produce a superb sublimation print quality, with a 2400 dpi print resolution and Epson’s Precision Core technology.

The Epson Workforce WF-7710 is fast, too. It’s capable of outputting up to 10 ppm for colored prints, making it one of the quickest inkjet printers available. It’s also a great choice for those who want to print on a variety of paper types and sizes. This printer can accommodate media up to 13″ x 19″.

The Workforce WF-7710 printer provides various options for connecting to your devices, including USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. You can also take advantage of Wi-Fi Direct for quick mobile printing from anywhere. Not only does this printer support NFC, but you can easily print your designs from your phone by tapping it against the machine.

What Hacks Can Be Used To Create Clothing And Ceramics Through Sublimation?

There are a few things you can do to make sublimation printing even easier and more efficient.

  • Before printing anything, be sure to invest in good sublimation paper. This will produce superior-quality prints.
  • Second, use a sublimation printer specifically designed for sublimation printing. By doing this, your prints will be top-notch.
  • Third, use a heat press to apply your sublimation designs. Designing in this manner will give you more success and make your design creations last longer.
  • Fourth, to avoid burning, use heat-resistant tape on hard surfaces (such as a cup).w things to make sublimation printing even easier and more efficient.
  • Try to coat the substrate with a polyester coating. This will help sublimate the ink into the substrate more effectively.
  • Finally, experiment with different sublimation inks. This will allow you to find the perfect ink for your needs and help you get the most out of your sublimation printing.

What Materials Can Be Sublimated?

You also need an appropriate heat press or heat source to do the sublimation transfer technique. Again, there are a lot of options for consumers on the market.

  • Sublimation Printing on Fabric – Polyester or items with a sublimation coating will give the best results. 100% cotton can be sublimated, but the results are not as vibrant.
  • Sublimation Printing on Glass – Glass must be specially coated for sublimation or it will break. You can buy pre-coated tempered glass blanks or you can coat your own glass with sublimation coating.
  • Sublimation Printing on Plastic – There are many sublimation-friendly plastics on the market. These plastics have a special sublimation coating that helps the ink adhere to the plastic.
  • Sublimation Printing on Aluminum & Metal – You can sublimate onto bare aluminum but it must be coated first. There are sublimation coating sprays available, or you can buy sublimation sheets that are placed onto the aluminum and then clamped in place until cooled.
  • Sublimation Printing on Canvas – Canvas must be sublimation-coated to sublimate onto it. Once coated, you can sublimate using the same sublimation settings that you would use for sublimation onto fabric.
  • Sublimation Printing on Wood – You must use a product that is made specifically for sublimation on wood. The sublimation transfer will not adhere to untreated wood.
  • Sublimation Printing on Acrylic – You can sublimate directly onto acrylic but it will give you a more muted result. For best results, sublimate onto sublimation paper and then adhere the sublimation transfer to the acrylic using a heat press.
  • Sublimation Printing on Vinyl – You can sublimate directly onto vinyl, but it will give you a more muted result. For best results, sublimate onto sublimation paper and then adhere the sublimation transfer to the vinyl using a heat press.
  • Sublimation Printing on Nylon – Nylon must be sublimation-coated in order to sublimate onto it. Once coated, you can sublimate using the same sublimation settings that you would use for sublimation onto fabric.

What’s The Difference Between Sublimation Printing And Digital Printing?

The fundamental difference between dye sublimation printing and other printing processes is that dye sublimation printing infuses the ink into the material, rather than simply printing on the surface. This makes for a more durable print that can resist damage from chipping, peeling, or scratching.

Pros And Cons Of Sublimation Printing

Pros of Sublimation Printing

For the best printing results, you need materials that contain 80% polyester. Choosing a light background is also important so your logos and images look good. Sublimation prints can be used on various items like keychains, cellphone cases, and medals. Sublimation printing is both quick and cost-effective. To put it another way, the printing process allows you to quickly produce many items. On-demand, you may print small presents, corporate gifts, and other similar things. When you have a sublimation printer, generating high-quality motives is simple.

Another benefit is the design’s durability. Again, we’re talking about designs produced with sublimation printing that won’t peel, fracture, or fade with time.

Cons of Sublimation Printing

The printers for sublimation printing are costly, and the prints take a while. If you want to use other materials besides the standard ones, be cautious about how you coat them with the core substance. And keep in mind that white or light colors on your design will need a white backdrop–sublimation shrinkage is known to vary by 1-5 percent.

You can also use a white toner printer. With this method, the designs are transferred to a transfer foil using heat, and then connected to B-paper. An adhesive on B- paper bonds with the print on the foil when heated. Once you separate P-paper and A-foil, you can transfer your design onto any textile item–unlike sublimation where the fabric choice matters more.

You can print a variety of textiles, including mixed fabrics, polyester, cotton, and felt. It’s also feasible to produce materials like cardboard, wood, or silk with UV ink. Users may likewise print black backgrounds effectively using white toner.

Another problem is the white creasing. Because sublimation printing works by imprinting designs on white fabrics, areas of the garment unable to be reached by design will stay white. As a result, accidental folding and occurrences of moisture leaking onto the transfer paper are common.

Important FAQs

How Does Screen Printing Work?

Except in areas where a blocking stencil makes the ink permeable, a mesh is used to apply paint to a substrate in screen printing. The screen is stroked back and forth across the substrate, causing the ink to be deposited on it.

What Is Dye Sublimation Printing And How Does It Work?

Dye sublimation printing is a process that works with an ink ribbon intended to grasp solid inks. Next, the printer heats the ink until it turns into gas, called sublimation. (Another example of something that undergoes sublimation within the industry is freeze-drying.)

What Can You Do With Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a type of fabric printing that uses a carrier material to print designs onto T-shirts and ceramic mugs. For this purpose, specialized sublimation printers and sublimation inks are utilized.

What Sublimation Printer Works Best With Cricut?

The Cricut sublimation printer recommended for use with Cricut machines is the Epson Workforce WF-7710 sublimation printer. This printer is designed for sublimation printing and works well with Cricut machines.

What Is Sublimation Printer and Press?

Sublimation is a printing process where ink is heated until it turns into a gas and then bonds with the polyester fabric.

How Does Screen Printing Work on T-Shirts?

The design is printed in reverse onto the screen. The shirt is then placed against the correctly set screen and ink is rolled over it. Only areas where the design has been printed allow ink to pass through, which then sets on the t-shirt before being set aside to dry.

If you want to start a company or learn how to print designs on clothes and other items, a sublimation printer is an excellent piece of equipment. Furthermore, before purchasing one, you must comprehend the elements of these printers.

To save you time, we have gathered a list of the best sublimation printers after reading multiple reviews and conducting research. Be sure to consider your budget and needs before choosing one from our selection above.

If you choose the right printer, sublimation printing can be a breeze! Best of luck with your purchase.

Mr. Chips
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