How does dye-sublimation work?

A T-shirt that has undergone dye-sublimation
A man wearing a T-shirt that has undergone dye-sublimation

Science is fun!

Dye-sublimation proves this statement true. The science behind the process of this fast growing phenomenon is quite interesting, and this method of printing is prevalent, being found in a variety of places including the printing and textile industries.

“Dye-sublimation can go onto textile. People can use it for bags, clothing and sports apparel like caps and polyester and cotton T-shirts, as long they have a sublimation printer, sublimation paper and the correct fabric,” says our sublimation sales expert, Jessica Groger.

Not only is the process fascinating, but so is the type of printable substrates. Apart from mainstream textile production, sublimation printing is commonly used for decorating everyday items such as coated ceramic ware.

“People also use it for personalising ceramics like mugs, plates, picture frames and clocks… to aprons and lunch boxes,” says Groger.

Besides printing on novelty items, it also is possible to print on the strangest of substrates, including synthetics such as inflatables.

All this is possible due to the unique process of dye-sublimation.

The process involves heat and pressure being applied to a solid, which subsequently liquefies the solid before swiftly converting it into a gas through an endothermic reaction.

The sublimation dye is printed onto transfer paper. When the digital design is printed onto the sublimation transfer paper, it is fed through a roller-heat press, ultimately turning the ink on the paper into a gas. This ink, which is in its gaseous phase, is transferred onto the substrate itself using a heat press, mug press or plate press. You then have a semi-permanent, high resolution, full colour print.

Sytech stocks the Sawgrass SG 400 (A4) & SG 800 (A3), in addition to a range of consumables including those listed in this article.

Do you own a sublimation business or are you hoping to start one soon? We’re ready when you are!

To view our Sawgrass Sublimation Printer and range of heat transfer products, click here:

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