What is sublimation printing – The Complete Process in 2023

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With the help of a carrier material, designs can be transferred via the sublimation printing process onto a range of materials, such as T-shirts and ceramic mugs. For this, professional sublimation printers and inks are utilized.

It is a quick and affordable method for businesses and consumers at home to add customization to items by converting solid ink particles into gaseous form.

When the procedure is carried out incorrectly, designs with motion blur or white creases may result. You could lose both time and money as a result of this. To become more familiar with the machines and how the designs will appear on the fabric, you should always try out a few designs before making them in large quantities. Instead of starting with a design that covers the whole area, try a small design first. You can try more creative creations once you’ve become used to them. You can also purchase the best printer for sublimation.

What is sublimation printing

Table of Contents

What is sublimation printing

A design is first printed onto unique paper. When heated, the inks are converted to gases, which combine with the cloth to imprint the fabric completely. Since the ink is entrenched in the fabric or substrate rather than merely sitting on top like a typical print, the effects are long-lasting and less susceptible to fading.

The procedure is very similar to getting a tattoo, however, it’s for your selected product rather than your skin. The heat causes the fabric’s pores to expand, and as pressure is applied, the ink cools and solidifies once more.

The end result is a full-color image that is permanent and won’t fracture, peel, or wash off of the substrate. Similar to dry ice, the method enables the ink to change from a solid to a gas without becoming liquid. Heat starts the transformation, and pressure controls it.

How sublimation printing works

Once learned, it is a simple process that can be easily copied at the house on a budget using a heat press and a small sublimation printer. This is a quick and original technique to make graphics that stand out from the crowd if you’ve ever desired to do that.

Dye Sublimation Supplies – Overview

Dye Sublimation Supplies

Here are a few items you’ll need to get sublimation printing to work on your products and start adding designs. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is a printer that supports sublimation printing and can use sublimation inkjet printers.

In order to print the designs into the fabric, you will also need to buy a heat press. Mug clamps and presses are available for purchase if you want to print the design on a ceramic mug. Because not all fabrics are ideal for sublimation printing, it is crucial to consider the material you wish to access. Additionally, you will want a sheet and you may want to consider investing in RIP software for color calibration.

Sublimation Printing Fabric – Detail Review

Sublimation Printing Fabric

Heat-reactive dye, polyester or polyester-blend fabric, and a sublimation printer are three requirements for this kind of clothing printing. The procedure appears simple on the surface because the material passes through the printer, which prints the image onto the surface. In contrast, a chemical reaction used in sublimation printing binds the color to the fabric at the molecular level.

Once it has passed through, heat is applied to widen the fabric’s pores and change the dye from a liquid to a gas. Between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit are the temperatures. After that, pressure is briefly applied to make sure the color penetrates the fabric. The pores close after it has finished and been freed from heat and pressure, sealing the dye inside.


Vibrant, vivid graphics with fine details can be printed on fabric using sublimation printing, and they won’t fade over time. In contrast to screenprinting, you won’t have to worry about colors being expensive. The dye transforms from a liquid to a gas, making the design on the fabric completely smooth to the touch. Under heavy use, it won’t fracture or peel because there isn’t a coating of paint on the surface.

Important Note:

The technique cannot be applied to any cloth or substance without polyester or polymer covering. The method is made possible by polyester’s cellular and chemical structure. Cotton, silk, or wool, which are materials that are primarily formed of natural fibers, will not effectively absorb the dye. Sublimation can be used to print on fabric as long as it contains at least 60% polyester, but the more synthetic material, the better.

Sublimation Heat Presses –  Complete Guide

A heat press is an additional tool required for printing because it is the following step in the sublimation process after printing. Sublimation transfers are available in a range of sizes, models, and costs to suit all purposes, just like printers. The purpose of the heat press is to transfer the image from the sublimation paper onto the desired item, such as a tablecloth, a t-shirt, or a coffee mug. This will result in a product that has a more vivid picture and is resistant to fade, making it more durable over time.

Similar to sublimation printers, it is advised to examine internet reviews before making a purchase. You probably don’t need one with all the bells and whistles that its more expensive version offers if you’re doing it at home. Therefore, your top pick may be to purchase one that has multiple functions and is inexpensive. The most expensive piece of machinery you buy will be the sublimation heat press, as was already explained. However, a heat press is necessary in order to properly print the design onto your products because it generates pressure and heat.

Advantages of Sublimation Printing

Small batch orders, seam-to-seam designs, and clothing with a wide range of pattern applications and variations can all be printed using sublimation technology.

Sublimation printing technology can be used to print small batch orders, seam-to-seam designs, and apparel with a variety of pattern uses and modifications.

The freedom you have with your designs using this method, which is not always provided by other techniques, is the most interesting advantage.

You can also want to keep it elegant by using a picture of a well-known skyline or natural setting. The practically limitless options will entice you to return for more.

With a design that won’t crack, peel, or discolor, the design’s longevity is a bonus. Your item won’t ever be relegated to the back of your closet, not even after many cycles in the washing machine.

Disadvantages of sublimation printing

The selection of materials was primarily the con. Only clothing made of polyester is acceptable for sublimation printing. Although other materials, including cotton, can be sublimated, it isn’t advised because the image won’t last as long because the fabric is “man-made.”

White creasing is another potential problem to be on the lookout for. Only white blank products can be decorated with sublimation printing, thus any uncovered or out-of-reach sections of the garment will stay white. Accidental folding or a buildup of minute moisture droplets on the transfer paper might cause this. Even if it’s not a huge deal, you should be conscious of this.

Selecting a fabric with a smaller amount of polyester in it will give you that finish if you wanted to aim for the vintage/distressed look, which is fashionable right now.

sublimation Printing vs Screen Printing – Review

Screen printing involves imprinting a graphic through a screen onto fabric, as the name would imply. In contrast to sublimation printing, which inserts the design into the fabric, screen printing transfers the image as a layer over the top of the cloth.

Screen Printing

The colors and shapes that can be produced by screen printing are more constrained, and the artwork may peel or fracture over time. But screen printing is incredibly speedy; several businesses can crank out as many as 900 items per hour.

Sublimation Printing

On the other hand, sublimation printing typically produces 60 pieces each hour. The most popular method of printing on clothing is screen printing since it lends itself to mass manufacturing better than sublimation printing.

sublimation printing vs screen printing

Sublimation Printing vs Heat Transfer – Review

Both printing methods entail printing an image onto transfer paper before putting pressure and heat on it. The inks, however, penetrate and become a part of the print media when using sublimation printing. On the other hand, when using heat transfer, the picture merely adds a second layer on top of the print material.

Sublimation printing can create detailed, high-resolution patterns in any shape and lasts way longer than heat transfer.

However, one benefit of heat transfer over sublimation printing is that some techniques may be done at home with an iron by the average person. Another benefit of heat transfer over sublimation printing is that it can be used on almost any fabric, regardless of its composition or color. You can only print on white polyester textiles with sublimation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is any printer capable of sublimation?

Sublimation printing cannot be done with inkjet printers equipped with thermal printing heads. Inkjet printers made by Canon, Hewlett Packard (HP), Lexmark, or Dell are therefore unsuitable. Sublimation printing can be done with printers that include Micro Piezo printing heads.

2, Is heat transfer superior to sublimation?

Sublimation is a fantastic choice if your company specializes in or is primarily focused on producing white and light-colored polyester garments. Your prints will be extremely washable, durable, and have the lightest hand. Heat transfer paper, on the other hand, will be your best bet if you want to print on any color or type of material.

3. Does sublimation paper require a specific kind of printer?

compatible with a sublimation printer You need a special sublimation printer that works with readily accessible cartridges. Presently, these include a range of small format printers, such as Sawgrass Virtuoso, Ricoh, and Epson, as well as large format printers.

4. Is a vinyl cutter required for sublimation?

Sublimation happens extremely quickly. Because you can print in full color, there is no need for cutting, and all that is needed is to print and press without layering.

5. Which clothing shirt is ideal for sublimation?

100% polyester shirts work best for sublimation printing. The type of chemical bond needed for this form of printing can only be created by the polymers found inside polyester fibers. Utilizing shirts made of 100% polyester has many benefits.


When it comes to producing full-color, high-quality images for clothes and other items, sublimation printing is a fantastic option. Since there is barely any downtime, all of the products are profitable and you can produce as much as you like.

Heat transfer can be suggested if you’re looking for something that only needs a short period of time.

However, dye sublimation is the greatest option if you want to print anything that will be stored for a long time and will be washed to preserve it in perfect shape.

It is one of the most affordable printing methods accessible since, if you already own a computer, you can invest in a sublimation printer that connects wirelessly and only has to buy transfer paper and ink for printing.

It is one of the most affordable printing methods accessible since, if you already own a computer, you can invest in a sublimation printer that connects wirelessly and only has to buy transfer paper and ink for printing.

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