What is Sublimation Printing – How to do it (Best Guide 2020)

First of all, it is very necessary for us to describe what exactly is Dye Sublimation process? It is a printing technique that is executed with the help of a computer and it uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as plastic, card, paper and fabric etc.

If you’re looking to have printed items in your bedrooms or offices then the Sublimation process is certainly useful in this regard. You can use it in your home decor, designed graphic apparel, advertising displays and you can also use the dye sublimation process to get aesthetically beautiful graphics and long-lasting colors.

What Is Sublimation Printing?

What is Sublimation Printing

It is actually a very simple process where a solid-state metal is transformed into a gas without going through the liquid stage. It basically means that the artwork is transferred to an object while it is in a gas state.

The process is done by using a high-temperature heat press during the dye sublimation printing process. It doesn’t require any ink or other liquid substance and that is why it is different from other printing methods.

How does It work?

For the first time, the image is inducted on the source printing paper, leaving little mess and making the entire process quick and easy for sublimation printing. Heat is then used to transfer the image from the paper for sublimation to an item.

This style of printing is used by businesses and home designers when creating graphics on garments, road signs, home decorations, company exhibits and personal items such as coasters, coffee mugs and key chains.

Which Products can be printed?

Which Products can be printed with Sublimation Printing

This is the list of components that are dye sublimated by various companies.

  • Rigid Substrates: There components include non-fabric items like glass, fiberglass and aluminum that is Polymer treated.
  • Blank Rigid Products: You can get almost all of these materials in a large amount in wholesale prices. These include mouse pads, cell phone cases and drink wares. They are also known as ‘blanks’ because they are raw and needs a lot of artwork to get into the final shape. You can add customized designs to these products.
  • Signage: These components are perfect for e-commerce businesses that are dominated by ‘click to print’ philosophy. You can create retractable banners and other trade show displays by using Vinyl. Whenever you see a seeing sign hanging in front of a building or a shop, there is a pretty good chance that this sublimation technique was used to make it.
  • Polyester Fabrics: In Polyester fabrics, there are two kinds of items that are very popular in the Sublimation process. We will review them one by one.
    • The first one is known as the ‘Knit‘. Whenever you see a hanging banner or a flag that is enjoying its free flow in a natural environment then you must understand that they are made up of knit.
    • The second one is ‘Woven‘. These are durable products such as fabric backdrops and customized tents.
  • Home D├ęcor: This is a dye-sub process that is mostly used by businesses to sell to interior designs and home decor makers. There are many popular designs for kitchens, restaurants and bathrooms as well.
  • Photograph Printing: It is pretty hard to find the perfect dye-sublimation process but photo printing is perhaps the best way to produce images of the highest quality on canvas, magnets and apparel.

Top 5 important tools for printing:

Basically, there are five vital tools that are necessary to make this kind of printing.

Sublimation Printer

As you know, it is pretty obvious to have a Sublimation ink printer in the first place. Also, it is important to understand that this kind of technology is used in both homes and factories.

The prices have been reduced significantly because of the great demand of these printers however, a couple of years ago, they were pretty hard to get at a reasonable price. There are some popular Sublimation printer companies such as Mimaki, Mutoh and Durst.

Sublimation Paper

The biggest advantage of a Sublimation paper is that you can create any spectrum color and then transfer it onto a suitable printing paper for the machine. It is widely regarded as the transfer paper of sublimation paper. You can simply design anything that fascinates you e.g. a family picture of a personal portrait on a holiday.

Computer & RIP Software

We are living in a technology-dominated society and there is no chance of art and technology being set apart from each other. You’d obviously need some technical assistance after you have taken all these beautiful pictures. Sometimes, it becomes compulsory to install certain Softwares like RIP Software that is known as ‘Raster Image Processor’.

You can also purchase this Software separately because you won’t find it on all the printers. Not all printers include this addition, but RIP can be purchased separately. It is important to understand that the software that is chosen must be supported by the printer that you are using.

Cutting Mechanism

One of the most essential tools for the sublimation process also includes a cutting device such as a knife or a cutting blade that is rotary. When you are creating original fabric items, you’d need these tools.

You might as well need a sewing machine for hemming the items and some products also use more than one option in one system to meet all requirements. This is especially important when making SEG (or Silicone Edge Graphic) frames.

Type of Heat Press

After printing, another important element is a heat press. It is the following step in the sublimation process and just like the painter; the transfers in the sublimation process are in a variety of sizes, models and prices to meet the requirements.

The basic function of the heat press is to remove the design from the sublimation paper on the desired material such as t-shirt, teacups and cloths, etc. In this way, you will get a high-quality image on the desired material only if you use the heat press in the correct way. You can use at least four types of sublimation transfers and they are as follows.

Calender Heat Press

Calendar heat pressing is the best choice when it comes to a sublimation printing on large but soft materials like fabric signs. You can also use this press on clothes and large banners as well.

Small Heat Press

If you are using the sublimation process on small items like kitchenware then small heat press is the recommended choice. This press doesn’t take up a lot of space and can integrate pressing various types of objects.

Flatbed Heat Press

This a process specified for hard materials like floor tiles and home decors. In this type of design and situation, we would recommend you to go for flatbed heat press. This is an extremely versatile process that is suitable for printing on apparel as well.

3D Vacuum Heat Press

Sometimes it becomes quite hard to work on tiny objects with different shapes and corners. In such hard situations, you must go for a 3D vacuum heat press. It is not made for flat surfaces and it is widely used in a range of products hence people are learning about printing through different brands.

What Are the Benefits of Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation Printing tools

If you’re looking to get the most elegant and beautiful printed component, then we would suggest dye sublimation for effective results. You won’t get blurry or cracked images in this process and the quality is long-lasting as well.

This process is extremely important for use with components that are going to be continuously in your use. Routine items such as mousepads, kitchenware and customized print shirts are going to be the main beneficiaries in this process.

This is certainly true in apparel and bedding’s case because you wouldn’t worry about their appearance getting compromised when they are getting washed on a regular basis.

As already mentioned, a sublimation of dye can be performed much more than fabrics, which limit only the printing of heat transfer. To make things creative for you, such as puzzles or personalized key chains, with what you want to print, dye sublimation is the main option.

It has the ability to create a lot of printing opportunities that are useful for making business presentations where the only big bonus is customization.

What Are the Drawbacks of Sublimation Printing?

One of the main drawbacks of this process of printing is that not everybody can afford it. They are used in both homes and factories for professional usage and they can cost you around $300 for a small product. It can also charge up to $600 for a premium level product.

In large projects that require mass manufacturing, you can get bills of around $10,000 but, you must consider the rates that were two years and what they are today. And this is only for the printer and you can also face additional charges.

The heat press and paper are also needed for other items. Stylish heat presses can cost between 150 and 500 dollars, and the printing paper can be worth over 100 dollars according to how much it requires.

If you’re looking for the quality of the print, then you must invest in the equipment such as printing papers. They can be purchased scarcely and you will benefit from them in the long run because of its continuous use.

Another major loophole is that this process can only be executed on polyester fabrics. They need to be 100 percent polyester for the best result. If you want to print items not made of polyester, they must be poly-coated for the most effective operation.

Why Choose Dye Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation Printing dye

Heat transfer is recommended when you’re looking to use something for a short period of time. However, if you’re looking to make something and then keep it for a long period of time then, dye-sublimation is the best process to implement.

This process will surely help you find the best results even if you’re being extraordinarily creative. In this process, you will only get effective results with products of genuine quality.

People can argue over its high price and costing charges but the truth is that dye sublimation produces quality results and products that can be used for several years. In reality, it’s worth your money.

As we have said before, there is absolutely no creative idea that cannot be executed by using this process. It is a great thing for artists and digital content creators.

Sublimation provides more room for innovation and unique designs that use full-color printing. Screen printing can be useful for fast, simpler designs. But, for the most part, sublimation is the better option in most of the occasions.