3 Things You Should Know About Dye Sublimation

Dye sublimation allows you to print photo-lab-quality pictures at home. In dye sublimation printing, colors are not laid down as individual dots, as is done in inkjet printers. Individual dots can be distinguished at a relatively close distance, making digital pictures look less realistic.

Digital printing technology has improved rapidly, and as a result, it’s merged and diversified industries so that screen printers are now offering digital printing and sign shops are able to offer apparel. We saw this type of industry adaptation happen with the emergence of eco-solvent printers, and we can see it now with dye-sublimation printers.

If you’re considering adding this type of technology to your graphics business, here are three things you should know about dye-sublimation.

  1. Many profitable items you can sublimate.

When people use the phrase “dye-sublimation”, I’m sure that snowboards, metal sheets, and floor mats are not the applications that naturally come to mind. However, dye-sublimation of both fabric and rigid materials is now possible. The cost-effective customization of everything from large banners to ceramic tiles.

Dye-sublimation works by penetrating the surface of the substrate with ink. Man-made materials such as nylon, certain plastics, and polyester fabrics contain polymers that when heated, enable the bonding of ink.

Dye-sublimation printing yields beautiful and permanent colors that are embedded in the substrate or fabric, rather than printed on the surface. Images on fabric won’t fade or crack even after multiple washings. Images on hard substrates will not chip, peel or scratch.

Here are some of the material possibilities you have with dye-sublimation:

Rigid Substrates – No longer limited to just fabric substrates, there is a wealth of variety in product and promotional possibilities available. New polymer treated materials have been developed specifically for dye-sublimation applications that include aluminum, brass, glass, fiberglass, acrylic, plastic and hardboard sheet materials.

Rigid Products – The rigid “blank” products that are widely available include, mouse pads, key chains, smartphone cases, pet bowls, light switch plates and more. These are easily sublimated and represent fantastic additions to the range of custom branding items your business can offer.

Soft-Signage – Create on-demand, high-impact POP, tradeshow and interior signage. The sublimation process is fast and ideal for time-sensitive promotions.

Fabrics – Choose from a range of 100% polyester fabrics. The choices of fabrics come in two distinct types:

  • Woven texture for sturdy and hardwearing banner stands, exterior banners, exterior signage and upholstery
  • Knit material that drapes and flows more naturally, for custom apparel, indoor flags and banners, photographic backdrops and table covers.

Sports and Fashion Apparel – Everything from t-shirts and cycling jerseys to handbags and baseball caps is a possibility. The ever-growing popularity of sports and fashion apparel opens up new sublimation opportunities everyday.

Photo Printing – From personalized gift items such as magnets, wall mounts and photo-apparel to photo backdrops, sublimation is perfect for delivering high quality photographic images to a wide range of markets.

Ceramic Tiles – Interior designers and decorators can create customized ceramic tiles for kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, museums, restaurants, and offices.

2. You’ll need different machines for dye sublimation.

Printing is only the first step of the process in dye-sublimation. For sublimation to take place, you need heat and pressure.

Successful dye-sublimation requires the following two-part process:

  1. Print graphics onto special transfer paper using sublimation inks
  2. Use a heat press to transfer the ink-on-paper to the item you want to decorate

3. Quality heat press is essential for great results

Heat presses are available that vary in size and application. Despite these variations, they all function the same way; at 400 degree Fahrenheit, they simultaneously heat the ink on the transfer paper and the polymer fibers within the substrate, enabling the transfer of ink-to-media. After about a minute, the heat is removed and the transfer paper is peeled off, leaving behind a permanent, full-color graphic on the substrate.

Although this may sound daunting to some, it’s really a simple and effective method to apply graphics to fabrics and other media. In comparison to traditional print methods, it saves hours and even days of print work and with the right machine, the quality results are comparable to screen-printing.

Digital Fabric Printer is a printing service for printing onto polyester based fabrics. We have 3 main services that we offer and this includes:

  1. Meterage printing – We can print up to 155cm wide in consecutive metres. Please allow 10-12 working days for production.
  2. Placement printing- We can print 100 x 75cm placement printing on our in-house heat press. This is great for banners, sampling, panels for fabrics and fast turnaround projects. Please allow 5 working days for production or 24hour express available for an additional $50.
  3. Custom cushions- 45 x 45cm finished size. Please allow 2 weeks for production.

No matter the size of your job, we would be happy to help you with your project. We work with the dye sublimation process which creates high definition artworks on various polyester based fabrics.

Please see our pricing here.