What exactly is sublimation?
In simple terms, it’s a method of printing that transfers a design into a material or fabric using ink and heat.
In the world of apparel, it’s a game changer in that it allows whole garment prints — designs that go seam-to-seam
So how does sublimation work, sublimation printing uses heat to transfer ink to fabric and other materials and substrates.
First, a design is printed onto sublimation paper with special ink that turns into gas when heated, then produces a permanent print onto the fabric containing a minimum of 65% polyester although 100% polyester produces far better results. The effects are permanent and less prone to fading, as the ink is embedded in the polyester or polyester coated substrate rather than simply laying on top like a normal print. This can be implemented using specially manufactured items such as mug presses, heat presses, cap presses and can also be implemented using an oven such as an air fryer or halogen oven. Some of the equipment we use is shown further down the blog.
The heat opens up the pores of the polyester and turns the ink to a gas, then with the applied pressure the gas cools and returns to a solid form.
The result is a permanent, full colour image that won’t crack, peel or wash away from the substrate. The process allows the ink to go from a solid to a gas without turning to liquid, a bit like dry ice. The conversion is initiated by heat and controlled by pressure.
This method of printing method is very effective for smaller batch orders and those designs that rely on the details. It is used in our company specifically for producing items such as printed drinkware, Novelty babywear that is highly detailed. Also used for Keyrings, Mouse mats etc as it produces amazing results.
Below are a few items printed using the sublimation technique
The longevity of designs printed with this method is also a plus point, with a design that won’t crack, peel or fade. Even after going through the washing machine or dishwasher countless times, your garment or drinkware will always remain perfect.
Up until recently sublimation was only suitable for white or light coloured materials & objects as it requires the white background to reproduce the whites in the print as sublimation printers are unable to print white inks, also the material must contain polyester as explained earlier, however we are now able to produce prints suitable for any material including 100% cotton by using a high temperature vinyl which is sublimated with the print, cut out and then subsequently heat pressed to the garment.
The Picture Below is a perfect example of this method
Here Is Some Of The Equipment We Currently Use For Our Sublimated Goods: