How does SUBLIMATION PRINTING work?
This is the technical bit! Sublimation printing is the application of sublimation inks onto a surface using a heat press to provide the required combination of heat, time and pressure. This combination causes the inks to be converted from a solid to a gaseous state enabling them to penetrate the sublimatable surface so that a permanent, full colour image is formed. The colour penetrates the surface of the item so that the result is colourful, long lasting and resistant to scratching unlike some other printing methods that merely print onto the surface of the item.
Dye sublimation printing is always done on a polyester, polymer, or polymer coated item. At high temperatures, the solid dye converts into a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The same high temperature opens the pores of the polymer and allows the gas to enter. When the temperature drops, the pores close and the gas reverts to a solid state. It has now become a part of the polymer. For this reason true dye sublimation cannot be done on natural materials such as 100% cotton. Natural fibres and non-coated materials have no “pores” to open.
The advantage of sublimation printing is that the results are permanent. The transferred images are not on the surface of the substrate – they become part of the substrate itself which means that the items are much more durable.
The Decorator’s Guide
Struggling to get your head around how promotional production creation works?
We know it’s complicated, so we’ve created an in-depth breakdown of all the decoration processes we use in our industry.
We’ve organised each chapter into bite size, simplified FAQ’s covering average turnaround times, insider tips on inks and techniques, and the recommended surfaces for each technique, so you can pass on your worthy knowledge to your customers.
Sublimation printing is a printing process which involves the transfer of ink using heat onto objects made of plastic, paper or fabric.
What surfaces or objects are best suited for sublimation printing?
It is best suited for items made of 100% polyester and nylon with a white surface.
What objects or products or surface are least suited for sublimation printing?
Sublimation printing does not work well on non-polyester items with a white surface.
How long does this type of printing customisation last?
It can last a lifetime, when done correctly.
What are the benefits of using this type of customisation method?
Wide colour selection.
What is the disadvantage of using this type of customisation method?
The selection of items that can be decorated is very limited.
On average, how long does it take to complete client’s order?
It can take three to five days to complete a project.
How long does it take to set up necessary materials for a job?
Depending on the complexity of the project, it can take minutes or hours. Printing per item can take two to three minutes.
Repeat jobs have simpler setups. Does it come at a lower rate?
Repeat jobs cost significantly lower because there is zero charge for the setup.
Is it necessary provide a sample?
Yes, to be able to achieve best results.
What is the rejection rate in sublimation printing?
The possibility of rejection is the same as other printing methods.
Are special effects applicable?
Yes, special effects can be achieved with sublimation printing.
What artwork file provides the best image to be used in sublimation printing?
A simplified vector file that can be created with Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.
What are the factors that can affect the results of sublimation printing?
The materials used, temperature and pressure may affect the results.
Is it okay to use multiple colours in sublimation printing?
Yes, use of multiple colours is possible.
What are the most popular promotional products decorated in this way?
Sublimation printing is the most commonly preferred method to decorate sublimation bags and jigsaw puzzles.
Are clients required to provide information on the type of surface that needs to be decorated beforehand?
Yes. Providing information beforehand on the type of surface for printing can help printing operators prepare needed materials while waiting to receive the items. Doing so reduces lead time.
Substrates need to be polyester coated or made of polyester fabric.Substrates need to be white or light colored. You cannot print onto dark or black colored items.Printers tend to clog if not used for extended periods of time.