Basics Of Sublimation Printing

What Is Sublimation Printing

Sublimation is a transfer process in which the image becomes a part of the actual item. Sublimation needs special ink, paper and specific substrates with polyester coating to work.

When heated to high temperatures, sublimation ink turns into a gas. Pores of the polyester coated item open up and allow the gas to enter. Then, once removed from the heat, the pores of the polyester substrate close up, trapping the ink inside. The entire image will be smooth to the touch.

Tools And Products Used for Sublimation Printing

Ink Jet Photo Printer: You Have To buy a digital photo printer to start sublimation printing .Dry-sublimation printers utilize the sublimation process to print photo-quality images. The process begins when special films that contain solid pigments that when heated, sublimate and are recaptured on the paper. As they cool, they will turn directly back into a solid, leaving the image on the paper. Because the dye turns from a solid to a gas and then back to a solid again without ever passing the liquid phase, they are not as messy as ink printers.

Heat Press For Sublimation Printing : A heat press is basically a machine containing an electronically heated metal surface, called a platen. A heat press functions similarly to an iron you would use to press clothing. The difference is the combination of pressure, a large heating surface and precise temperature control. This ensures even heating of the materials being pressed, and yields consistent results. The platen is lowered down onto the surface to be imprinted, and locked down for a predetermined length of time, according to the materials being used . Heat presses also feature a timer that will allow the user to control exactly how long and at what temperature the item will be pressed at. 

Sublimation Ink :

All ink jet printer inks used in the home and most businesses use a similar formulation. The basic make-up of ink jet inks is de-ionized water as the solvent, isopropyl alcohol or glycol as the drying agent, and dye base to provide the colour. These materials as well as proprietary ingredients are mixed in various proportions to form ink jet inks. Depending on the page speed, print head design and colour capabilities, the actual proportion of the ingredients will vary. All dye-based ink jet ink formulations lack water resistance.

Sublimation ink is the process of combining heat and pressure to convert ink on special sublimation paper to gas(without converting it to liquid), and then impart the impression depicted on the paper onto the end product. In the simplest terms – heat+pressure+ink on sublimation paper -> transfers the image on the paper to ceramic metal or other treated surface.

The end product receiving the image can be something that contains polyester, such as a T-shirt (the more polyester, the deeper the impression), or it might be metal or ceramic, such as a mug, and be coated with a special polymer coating that allows the design to permanently adhere to the final product.