How Sublimation Printing Works
At its basic level, dye sublimation printing on fabric uses high heat and specialized printing paper to transfer dye from the paper to the fabric. During this process, the dye turns from a solid to a gas, completely bypassing the liquid stage that would normally happen in-between.
Your design is printed as a mirror image onto the specialist paper, meaning it starts out backward. We take the unprinted fabric and lay it out completely flat so that no lines or wrinkles show up later on. Once we lay the paper on top of the material, it's showtime. Heat and pressure trigger this solid-to-gas transition, so we use an industrial heat press to facilitate this process. This combination allows the dye to sink into the material fibers and become part of the fabric. The image is reversed when it's transferred onto the material, so your design will be the right way around.
We use sublimation fabric printing on materials that are primarily poly-based, with a poly composition of about 80-85%. The fabric needs to be white, as sublimation printing can't print white inks. However, this technique can still print the entirety of a fabric. This means that if you create a design with a dark background, the sublimation printing will be able to replicate that.
You may have heard the end result called sublimation fabric, or affectionately sub fabric. No matter what you call it, you can be guaranteed a brilliant print.
The Benefits of Sublimation Fabric Printing
Since the inks penetrate the fabric fibers, your designs are much less prone to fading in comparison to other printing methods. This is because the ink doesn't just sit on top of the material, but rather is part of it. What this means for you is that your design will stay intact without peeling away, cracking, or flaking off.
Dye sublimation printing on fabric produces super vibrant colors across the whole spectrum. Any color that you can create on a computer can be reproduced with sublimation printing. The only thing to keep in mind is that the tones of the colors depend on the base color of the fabric itself. If a fabric has a warmer undertone, then you may be able to detect this overall hue in the final printed fabric. The same applies to cooler tones as well.
Another benefit of dye sublimation fabric is how intricate the detailing can be. This level of detail will depend on the fabric itself, as each one is unique. Above all, the fabric retains its original handle so it'll feel just as it's supposed to. When it comes to fabric, this is extra important because you'll want the fabric to be authentic. Even the softest fabrics will still be cozy after they make their way through the sublimation process.
With this level of detailing, you can print virtually anything you can imagine. Whether that's stunning landscape photography, abstract digital art, or whimsical watercolor scenes, it can be printed to perfection. You'll be able to see all the brushstrokes and fine lines that make your art a masterpiece.
Sublimation fabric printing can be done in small runs, meaning you don't have to order excess fabric if you don't need it. We're also able to sublimate quickly, meaning most fabric orders will be ready within 1-2 days from when you place your order.
Dye sublimation can be used on jersey, lycra, polycotton, velvet, and silk alternative fabrics. All in all, it's a fantastic method that will leave you with the best results every time.