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Sublimation printing allows you to create custom items with photos or designs, with minimal investment. Find out everything you need to start your sublimation business.
Dye sublimation is a personalisation technique that allows you to print an image on paper, and transfer it to a garment or item that is suitable for sublimation (polyester fabrics or objects with a special polyester coating) using a heat press.
With this technique, you can add a photo to a polyester garment or to an item such as a mug, a cushion, a glass, a photo holder, etc. The process of sublimation printing is based on applying heat with a heat press on a printed design in contact with the object you are personalising. The heat will cause the sublimation ink to go directly from a solid to a gaseous state, and to penetrate the surface of the item. As a result, personalised objects are produced with images of maximum sharpness and detail, colourful and highly resistant to washing.
The sublimation process consists of the following steps:
It is essential to adjust these 3 variables on the heat press:
1- What do I need to start a sublimation business?
The basic components of a sublimation system are as follows:
2- Why are there so many colours for sublimation printing?
Most of the sublimation printers use 4 ink cartridges with the four basic colours CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), and from them, the entire colour spectrum is achieved. There are, however, sublimation printers with ink cartridges of other colours so that all necessary nuances can be achieved in the images to print.
3- Which printers can I use for sublimation printing?
Sublimation requires inkjet printers. The technology of these printers allows the ink to be deposited on the paper without applying heat. It is important not to apply heat to the sublimation ink when printing because it would cause sublimation (ink passes from solid to a gaseous state). We will look for this to happen in the next step when we place the item on the heat press.
4- How long does it take to sublimate a design?
It depends on the item on which you want to apply this printed design. You can check our indicative table for this information.
5- On which materials can the sublimation process be performed?
Sublimation can be applied to polymers (polyester, polyamide, etc.) or objects with a polymer coating. To achieve optimal results when sublimating fabrics, the item must be made of at least 80% polyester, although fabrics with only 65% may also be sublimated.
There is currently a very wide range of blanks that are ready for sublimation (they are polymer-coated).
However, you can also find special coatings to prepare a non-printable surface, making it suitable for sublimation printing.
6- Can I store the designs printed on sublimation paper?
The designs printed on sublimation paper can be stored as long as they remain in a place with low humidity and no exposure to the sun. However, it is preferable to print the designs when they are going to be used.
7- Can I use any kind of paper for sublimation printing?
No, you cannot. You must only use paper designed for sublimation. Paper for sublimation has specific characteristics because it acts as an ink carrier. The ink must be deposited on the paper with maximum definition, but when the heat is applied by the heat press, the paper must release the ink.
8- What is a heat press?
It is a machine, with a technology similar to that of a domestic iron, that heats its surface to a preset temperature. There are presses of many different sizes and shapes, with a flat plate, and also with cylindrical mug heaters (to personalise mugs, glasses, etc.). Any heat press machine has a way to adjust temperature, pressure and operating time, according to the item you are personalising.
The heat press applies heat and pressure against the surface of the object, which allows the transfer of the design.
9- Should I remove the sublimation paper while it is hot or cold?
The paper must be removed when cold or hot depending on the item we are personalising. For each product, you should check the specific recommendations.