Pros & Cons of Sublimation Printing

The main drawback of Sublimation printers is it’s costly. Although dye-sublimation printers are designed for professional and household use, they can cost as low as $300 for a modest home printer and reach $600 for a more expensive item.

For large-scale printers that are used for large-scale production, they can be priced as high as $10,000. Keep in mind that this is considerably cheaper than was the case in the past. However, one must keep in mind that this is for the printer.

Other items that are required include a heat press as well as printing paper. These can substantially increase the price. A well-constructed heat press can range between $150 and $500, and the sublimation papers used to print can cost more than $100, contingent on the amount you require.

Printing paper should also be bought in a limited amount as opposed to the printing equipment employed. It is important to note that the expense associated with this machine is well worth it over the long term in terms of printing quality.

Another significant issue is, as stated earlier that this kind of printing is usually printed with polyester materials. They should be 100% polyester to ensure the most effective results. If you’re looking to print on things that aren’t fabric-based, the item must be coated with polymer so that the process can be efficient.


Heat Transfer Paper vs. Sublimation Printing

Dye Sublimation vs Heat Transfer

What is the distinction between sublimation and the heat transfer process? Both types of printing are often confused because of the similarities in using heat presses. However, the differences are massive:


Heat Transfer Differences

Heat Transfer Paper

The primary differentiator is that heat transfer paper provides the design with a layer over the fabric after applying an iron. It’s a very affordable paper, and that’s because it’s not as high-end of sublimation papers. Think of the low-quality priced, high-priced items you find in the tourist stores at the beach.


Printable Fabrics

The use of heat transfer is in a wide range of fabrics and is also less costly. However, the result isn’t as vibrant as when sublimation is employed. It can also degrade in terms of quality as time passes with the possibility of cracking and fading. This is the reason why many companies choose to use sublimation instead of print using heat.


Sublimation Transfer Paper

Sublimation transfer paper produces an appearance that feels like it’s apart from the material or object. This design is fully embedded into the fibres or materials that you print on, meaning it won’t crack or fade as time passes. The result is stunning. It’s not like the cheaper sticker was heat-pressed on the surface.


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Sublimation vs. Traditional Screen Printing

Screen Printing Process

The process of screen printing involves the use of the mesh stencil to push ink onto fabric. It’s typically done with T-shirts, as well as other fabrics. Screen printing isn’t costly. However, it requires a brand new stencil with each type of design and for each colour used. Because it’s a stencil, the designs are typically simple, with a limited number of colours. The same is true for stencils used to draw, as there’s no room to create more intricate, diverse designs. Utilizing dye sublimation printing gives many more possibilities for creating unique and vibrant designs.


Printable Fabrics

While sublimation must be carried out using poly-coated items, screen printing can be applied to any surface with a smooth surface. This opens the way to more fabrics, such as cotton, but screen printing isn’t usually applied to more rigid surfaces like ceramic tiles or mugs. This is because a smoother surface is required for optimal results, or the image may be deformed. This is why this kind of printing is generally printed on clothes and is typically limited to designs that are only one colour. However, sublimation works best when using more colours, and the designs can be highly detailed.


Why Sublimation Printing is Better

Sublimation allows for more creative and unique designs using full-colour printing. The variety of paper that can be printed is also much faster compared with screen printing. For more straightforward, fast design, screen printing may be beneficial. But, for the greater of the time, sublimation is the preferred alternative in most instances.


What Can Materials Be Sublimated?

I cannot stress it enough. Dye sublimation can be a highly efficient printing technique that can produce professional graphics. However, there are limitations on the capabilities it can be utilized with. It is crucial to know that dye sublimation is best used in conjunction with Polyester or Polyester-coated materials. While this is limited to the types of fabrics that can be utilized, it leaves the market broad for other alternatives to fabric, like tile displays at trade shows and sporting items. These materials cannot be printed with the other processes for printing that are widely used, including heat transfer and screening.

Certain polyester-coated materials require different methods for sublimation.


Sublimation Printing on Fabric

When you use dye sublimation on fabric things like dresses, T-shirts, tablecloths, custom tents, and more, there are various things to consider. “All-over” designs where a design or image covers the entire print is a standard option for this method because it’s simple to accomplish.

A few issues when printing on fabric is that random white creases could be seen on the fabric that has been printed. It is typically because you did not set the transfer paper properly, which causes it to be folded over or wet. You must be careful when setting up prints for sublimation.

Additionally, if someone wants their design to appear slightly tactile, this print isn’t the best option as it’s designed to replicate the appearance but not the feeling. You must make use of your best judgment when deciding on designs to be printed on the shirt.


Sublimation Printing on Glass

Because glass is prone to breaking, It is essential to be more cautious when using printers that use dye sublimation. The heat press should be used with care. The pad of the heat press can be used to provide additional protection of the glass; however, this isn’t necessary.

Another thing to be kept in mind while printing with glass is how glass heats differ from more typical fabrics commonly employed. Sometimes, the heat may result in foggy print areas, and halftones are an excellent way to cover this problem.

Another option is to utilize a material with a texture that creates an even more precise image. This is different from the other method because the ink needs to be sublimated in a right-reading fashion as the print is transferred to the glass’s back and is visible from the opposite end. Different products require that the image be sublimated using a mirror-image format.


Sublimation Printing on Plastic

Printing on plastics can require different technology. The heat press utilized to print on fabrics and other surface types is called a flatbed press. When you are printing on a 3D object is to be sublimated printed on the surface, an oven press will be preferred instead.

Another modification occurs when the images are printed onto film, not paper which is more adaptable to the item being printed on.

One last thing to consider is that the product has to be able to withstand temperatures of around 4000F without damage. This is more common in plastics than glass and fabrics.

Read more:
Adhesive panels 101: everything you need to know


Sublimation Printing on Aluminum & Metal

Metal or aluminium can result in a vibrantly printed image. Selecting high-end materials for printing will yield the most effective outcomes.

To get the best result, a high-quality sublimation printer must be bought. A model with an 8-colour option is suggested.

To keep in the forefront, metals are typically set on top of the Heat transfer paper sheet than under it when printing. Be sure that the image is correctly placed on the paper without the use of heat tape.

All in all, one needs to make sure there is no heat touching the metal and paper.


Sublimation Printing on Canvas

The primary difference in using dye sublimation on canvas is that they can be made to stretch. This is known as”Gallery Wrap” or “Gallery Wrap” when the canvas print is stretched across the sides and then tucked into behind the frame to ensure viewers don’t have to look at the instruments used to secure the canvas.

It is important to remember that the sides are visible and must be printed with either an extension of the front image or a repetition of the identical image. If you are using this gallery wrap style, the canvas should be larger than the frame, allowing it to expand effortlessly.

In preparing for using for the use of the press, it’s crucial to make sure that the material is free of dust. This can be done using a Lint roller.


Sublimation Printing on Wood

Sublimated printing has been extended to wood products, which leaves the field much more wide-ranging in terms of the items that could be printed. While wood does not contain polyester, as do many other items, it can be coated using a polysubstance using heat and rollers.

After this has been completed and the sublimation process is completed, it is the same as working on other types of polyester. The coating may permit the heat press to be operated at less than 4000 standard temperatures than other materials used. This is something to be considered when applying a specific coating for wood.


Sublimation Printing on Acrylic

Although acrylic isn’t made of polyester and is not a polyester-based product, a product known as Sublimation Acrylic is a viable option to sublimate dyes. Sublimation Acrylic can be purchased at Rudra Vinyl, which sells printing supplies and other equipment.


Sublimation Printing on Vinyl

The process of sublimation for vinyl is performed in a similar way to other materials. The significant distinction with vinyl is the fact that it’s applied to products cut into forms.

This is typically the case for products with sticky adhesives such as floor and wall decals. This is accomplished by cutting out the silhouette of the image onto the design file before printing with a sublimated printer.

If it’s time for the sublimation of the vinyl, it is cut to the correct shape. Cuts should be made just a few inches from the edge of the print. Based on the size that you want to print, more than one item can be printed in one go and cut into separate pieces.


Sublimation Printing on Nylon

It is the most challenging material to use for dye sublimated printing. There are a variety of kinds of nylon that come of which has distinct reactions to sublimation. Nylon 6 is one of the types that is used the most to make textiles. There are specific results from the vast array of possibilities offered. A good tip is to utilize lower temperatures for heating.


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