What is Sublimation Printing? – Dye Heat Transfer Process

Have you ever seen those colorful, abstract designs on textiles, mugs or phone cases and wondered how they are made? Well, the process is called sublimation printing, and it’s a type of dye heat transfer. Here, we’ll take a look at what is sublimation printing and explore some of the benefits of this printing method.

what is dye sublimation printing

What is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a unique dye heat transfer process. The technical definition of sublimation is to change solid particles directly into a gaseous state.

what is needed for sublimation printing

In the case of dye sublimation, the special sublimation ink will turn from the solid form of a digitally printed image into a gas state, and when applied heat and pressure it will penetrate into pores of ceramic, metal, and glass or polyester substrate that you are transferring onto. Once the ink has been penetrated into the substrate, it will then solidify to create a permanent image onto your product.

This heat sublimation process can transfer any design or print from specialized sublimation paper onto the material by using pressure and heat (between 350-400 degrees). It’s a popular way to add customization to products that both businesses and individuals use all over the world.


What is Needed for Sublimation Printing?

There are a few things that you’ll need to get started with your sublimation printing project;

  1. Sublimation printer or machine
  2. Good sublimation ink
  3. Sublimation printer paper
  4. Heat press machine
  5. The item you want to transfer the digital image

Read a detailed article on what is sublimation ink and its uses.

Sublimation Printing Process

Sublimation printing is an excellent method that can be used to present your business’ logo or specified graphics on your product. Lately, this method has become very popular among aspiring graphic designers. You can print high-quality pictures that do not smudge or crack easily.

The image is first designed using a sublimation design software then printed onto a sheet of sublimation paper, and then heat and pressure are applied to the paper to cause the dyes to “sublimate” or turn into gas. This gas then penetrates into the substrate (fabric, ceramic, polyester, etc.) and bonds to permanently transfer the image. Because sublimation printing doesn’t use any ink, it results in bright, vibrant colors that are resistant to fading.

sublimation printing process


Here are the steps of the sublimation printing process;

  1. First, print your desired image on a sublimation paper using sublimation ink
  2. Then, the printed sublimation paper is placed on the substrate you want to transfer the image
  3. Load the substrate onto a specially designed heat press and apply pre-heated pressure between 380-400 degrees for a few seconds
  4. During this time, the dye in the ink evaporates and creates a gas form, and then penetrates into the surface of a substrate, which then forms a permanent bond.
  5. When you lift the press up, the digital image will be transferred onto the substrate6. Leave aside for a few minutes to dry for stability

Sublimation can also be done on acrylic, here’s the process.


Benefits of Sublimation Printing

Customizing and personalizing products such as mugs, t-shirts, phone cases, tiles, and apparel has quickly become a popular and profitable industry. Sublimation is an easy and cost-effective process to add personalization to the products.

what can you do with a sublimation printer

The sublimation printing method has many benefits. It’s an eco-friendly process because there is no waste produced unlike traditional screen printing products, and it’s also a fast and efficient process.

The sublimation printing technique allows intricate details to show up in an image and can be used on a variety of different products.

It can be used on any porous material which makes it an excellent process for fabric printing, ceramic mugs, phone cases and so much more.

It’s also cost-effective and low in price. You can get a mug printed with your logo for just a couple of dollars.

Finally, the sublimation prints are long-lasting and offer a high-quality print look. The image will not fade and the colors won’t bleed so you can get a colorful, bright design.


Sublimation Printer Uses

While sublimation printing is a great process that can be used to create detailed images, it’s not the only application that sublimation printers can be used for.

Here are some significant uses of the sublimation printer;

  1. The dye sublimation printing process allows for full-color images and designs to be transferred onto any material that the ink will absorb into.
  2. The best part of this is that we can print on some really cool and unique materials such as wood, mugs and phone cases.
  3. It’s also a great option for businesses that need their prints to be customized in large quantities.
  4. Plus, it’s a great way to make a personalized gift for someone special.
  5. The process is not limited to different types of materials, you can even transfer graphics onto clothing
  6. It also offers a wide range of colors and shades that the dye-sublimation printer can print from.


What is the Difference Between Screen Printing and Sublimation Printing?

The key difference between screen printing and sublimation printing is the level of detail in the final print. Sublimation is also different from standard ink-jet toner. The standard printing technology does not have the ability to go directly into a gas state. It can only convert into solid or liquid form only.

In the case of screen printing, the printer will use a screen that is silk-screened with ink. This allows for fine details to be printed on, as well as any intricate designs. However, this process is slow and limited to 1-4 colors per print.

With sublimation printing, the printer prints onto specially designed heat transfer paper. It’s a quick process that can print 1-6 colors at once. This means that it’s perfect for businesses who want to print in bulk. And, it offers a fantastic level of detail and intricate designs.

Video Guide on the Difference between Sublimation and Heat Transfer


Wrapping Up

Sublimation printing is an excellent process that can help you create a wide range of products. From custom shirts to corporate giveaways, sublimation printing is a great way to increase your brand exposure and even generate some revenue.

If you are looking for a unique way to add some color and customization to your products, look no further than dye heat transfer. The dye sublimation printing process is a great example of how the world is becoming more digitalized with technology, allowing us to have full-color designs on our favorite clothes, mugs or phone cases!



Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)

What does sublimation printing do?

The sublimation printing process is a dye print heat transfer process. The printer will print directly onto specially made heat transfer paper which can then be transferred onto almost any material. Sublimation printing is great for businesses that are looking to have custom prints in large quantities. It’s also perfect for making personalized gifts for someone special!


Can a regular printer be used for sublimation?

No, a regular printer cannot be used for sublimation. A sublimation printer prints onto heat transfer paper that a regular printer is not capable of.


Is sublimation printing permanent?

Yes, sublimation printing is permanent and can be used on fabric. It is a permanent transfer that will not peel or fade with time.


Which is better sublimation or heat transfer?

This question doesn’t really have a straight answer. For businesses that need to print in bulk, sublimation is great because it can produce high-quality prints quickly and efficiently. For those looking for more specialty or designer pieces, heat transfer printing is a great option as the images will be able to fade over time. This gives a more vintage or unique look that many people love!


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