Sublimation printing is the process where photo quality images, graphics or text can be transferred to a wide range of items including garments, metals, acrylics to name a few via heat transfer.
Specialised sublimation ink must be used as when this ink is heated it changes its state from a solid to a gas, without the need for the liquid phase. When this gas come into contact with polymer fibres it is abkle to pass through them, which in turn permantly dyes the fabric.
For the Sublimation process to work effectively the items to be printed must be first poloymer coated or already polymer based. (ie poloyester tshirt)
Because almost any item can be polymer coated this process alows prints onto almost anything, such as ceramic mugs, glass, metal sheets, acrylic and other unisub items like mousmats, coasters or phone cases to name a few. Sublimation printables are constantly updating, as long as the item can be polymer coated and heat pressed it is highly likely it can be sublimated.
Because of this sublimation printing is vast becoming one of the most popular printing methods within the industry.
The advantages of sublimation printing are as follows;
- Sublimation method allows you to print full color images onto hard surfaces with a polymer coating.
- Screen printing can be a complicated learning process and become quite messy where as sublimation is an easier process to master.
- Sublimation allows the use of a full colour spectrum.
- Cost the same amount to print 1 item that it does to print 1000, meaning the customer doesn’t need to order minimum order quantities, making sublimation the perfect print process for small business looking for promotional items, or the gift personalisation market.
- The customer can completely customise. Sublimation printing does not require screens or specialist plates, meaning its a simple process to customise designs with any elements that change such as individual names, team numbers.
- Sublimation can be a quick process depending on order which could allow companies to offer same day or in some cases, same hour printing.
As with anything there can be disadvantages, and sublimation is the same. Some of the disadvantages for sublimation printing are as follows;
- The inks can be quite expensive to buy compared to other OEM ink printers, which is usually factored into the pricing of sublimated products.
- The items to be printed need to be either made of polymer fabrics or coated with polymer to ensure the sublimation process works effectively.
- Printables are required to be ideally white or very lightly couloured. Because the colour is dyes into the fabric sublimation printing cannot be used on dark printables such as black tshirts.
- Although with the sublimation process it is possible to access the whole colour spectrum, it is very difficult to mange the colours on the printers, this has been helped over the years with the introduction of the powerdrivers.
Sublimation is really coming into its own and is a rapidly growing sector, its clear to see with the advantages raised above why this is.