Sublimation printing is the process in which photo-quality images, graphics or text can be transferred to a wide range of items, including garments, metals, acrylics to name a few, by heat transfer.
Specialized sublimation ink must be used since heating this ink changes its state from solid to gas, without the need for the liquid phase. When this gas comes into contact with the polymer fibers, it is difficult for it to pass through, which in turn permanently stains the fabric.
For the sublimation process to work effectively, the items to be printed must first be polymer coated or already polymer based. (ie polyester t-shirt)
Because almost any item can be polymer coated, this process allows printing on almost anything including ceramic mugs, glass, sheet metal, acrylic, and other unisub items like mousmats, coasters, or phone cases to name a few. Sublimation printables are constantly being updated, as long as the item can be polymer coated and heat pressed, there’s a good chance it can be sublimated.
Because of this, sublimation printing is becoming one of the most popular printing methods within the industry.
The advantages of sublimation printing are as follows;
- The sublimation method allows you to print full color images on hard surfaces with a polymer coating.
- Screen printing can be a tricky process to learn and get quite tricky as sublimation is an easier process to master.
- Sublimation allows the use of a full color spectrum.
- It costs the same to print 1 item as it does to print 1,000, which means the customer does not need to ask for minimum order quantities, making sublimation the perfect printing process for small businesses looking for promotional items or the personalization market. gifts.
- Customer can fully customize. Sublimation printing does not require specialized screens or plates, which means it is a simple process to personalize designs with any elements that change, such as individual names, team numbers.
- Sublimation can be a quick, on-demand process, which could allow companies to offer same-day or, in some cases, same-hour printing.
As with anything, there can be downsides, and sublimation is the same thing. Some of the disadvantages of sublimation printing are as follows;
- Inks can be quite expensive to purchase compared to other OEM ink printers, which is usually factored into the price of sublimated products.
- Items to be printed must be made of polymer fabrics or coated with polymer to ensure the sublimation process works effectively.
- Printables should ideally be white or very light in color. Because the color is dyed into the fabric, sublimation printing cannot be used on dark printables such as black t-shirts.
- Although with the sublimation process it is possible to access the full color spectrum, it is very difficult to eat colors in printers, this has been helped over the years by the introduction of power controllers.
Sublimation is really establishing itself and is a fast growing sector, it is evident with the advantages mentioned above why this is so.