The sublimation in T-shirts allows us to print and personalize any type of image on a white shirt or clear backgrounds, obtaining fascinating results in the finished product. The material of the shirt must have at least 70% polyester to sublimate without any problem and obtain the best results.
Sports garments such as football and basketball use sublimation printing for the printing of numbers, logos and sponsors.
It is possible to sublimate shirts of all kinds of fabric
Unfortunately you can only sublimate shirts made with a minimum composition of 70% Polyester, white or light colors. When using a smaller combination of Polyester you run the risk that when the garment is washed the image deteriorates, besides the colors and the brightness of the garment are affected when the percentage of Polyester decreases.
Polyester is a synthetic fiber in which the ink adheres very well and can be printed with a high quality and great durability. For this reason, most of the sublimated shirts that we find in the market are mostly polyester.
It is possible to sublimate dark colored shirts
If possible, as long as you do it with the correct technique. The first thing to take into account is that the design mixes with the colors of the bottom of the shirt, causing a distortion with the colors.
To avoid this happening the alternative is to use Subli-Flex 202 paper that allows you to transfer images in dark cotton garments. First print the design in mirror mode and then cut the contours with a plotter. According to the experience of our customers, the sublimated garment can be washed up to 50 times without any deterioration in quality.
It is recommended to use Subli-Flex 202 transfer paper with designs such as numbers, letters and logos since they are easy to cut with a plotter. This is the best alternative that exists so far to sublimate in dark colored shirts not only polyester but 100% cotton.
How to make the sublimation of shirts?
It will be necessary to place the sublimation paper on the plotter to make the printing of the design / image that you wish to use or that the client has selected. Keep in mind that for this technique to work with a plotter, it will be necessary to manage a brand of inks exclusive to plotter and adapt to sublimation. If you use several colors of ink, you will have to print separately for each key.
- Selection of color: After having completed the first step, you will have to select the color, this refers to choosing the right shade for the design. When you are going to make an impression on canvas, the tonalities can vary, therefore, you will have to choose the right one.
- Printing: Since you have the paper is to make the sublimation of shirts, it will be necessary to use the canvas so that you can use them all in one and adjust the colors to your liking. Afterwards, the print can be made on our polyester shirt. The process is immediate and something to keep in mind is that if you handle different plotters, it is not necessary to use an offset, since this can be done directly on the textile.
Equipment and materials to sublimate t-shirts
For the sublimation of t-shirts the following materials and equipment are needed:
- A heat press or iron to sublimate T-shirts: there are different models, prices and functions. The sublimation machines are multifunctional so you can also sublimate other products.
- A printer for sublimation must be Injection or inkjet we recommend Epson printers because they are a brand already tested.
- Special inks and paper for sublimation
- Transfer paper Subli-Flex 202 in case of sublimating black shirts
- T-shirt white with at least 70% polyester.
Procedure to sublimate a shirt
- First Step – Create and print the design on your computer: the images must be of good quality and with good light level, you must make the necessary corrections before printing the design on the sublimation paper, the printing must be done in mirror mode which you can find in the options of your printer. I recommend using the Photoshop program to retouch the images.
- Second Step – Place the print on the shirt: Before placing the print on the shirt it is advisable to eliminate wrinkles, you can do it by giving the garment a previous ironing, then place the printed sheet face down and put it on the correct area well centered, verify that the paper is not crumpled.
- Third Step – Programming of the thermal press for ironing: You must set temperature and time the recommended temperature is 180ºC for 45 seconds. Before placing the garment on the iron, you must first color a sheet of bond paper to avoid that it is going to grind the iron, then you put the shirt and later on another sheet of bond paper that covers the whole area of the iron to avoid there are yellow zones.
Take into account that the cotton clothes should be put less time since the cotton turns yellow if you leave it for a long time, You must place a sheet of paper on top of the shirt then adjust the knob to the proper pressure and you can have your shirts customized.
What to do to sublimate Cotton t-shirts
As we already know, sublimation on shirts is only possible on garments with a minimum of 70% polyester and in white or light colors, it is not possible to sublimate on cotton shirts because the sublimation and cotton ink molecules they are not compatible, that is, they do not adhere.
However there are functional alternatives to sublimate in Cotton, we present them below
Use of Subli-Flex 202 transfer paper
It is an alternative with very good results, it is recommended to sublimate number, letters and logos. It can be used when you need to sublimate cotton garments with dark colors.
They are applied to the fabric of the shirt by means of heat, with this we treat the area of the shirt where we will place our design. Once the garment is cooled we already have a polyester surface where we can print. This option can be used when you are going to sublimate on white cotton fabrics or light shades.
The appropriate temperature to melt the polyester sheet is 200 ° C for 12 seconds, once it is cooled we have treated the area of impression, take into account that the quality and durability of the sublimated garment is not ideal.
Coating of liquid polyester or polymer (the best option)
This option is to apply a liquid polyester coating directly to the area where you will transfer the print. The liquid polyester can be applied with a brush or an atomizer if you are only going to sublimate a shirt if several are using the technique of screen printing or sprayed with an air gun. After applying the liquid polyester, the garment should be dried before sublimation.
Normally the polymer is not prepared and it has to be mixed normally with water, each supplier has its own formula, you must follow the instructions in the way of preparing your polymer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
To accelerate the drying process, you can pre-dry using an oven with a temperature of 100 ° C for 3 minutes or also using your same sublimation plate for 5 seconds at 200 ° C with moderate pressure.
A thin layer of liquid polyester should be applied to cover the area where we are going to sublimate. This process takes more work if we compare it with the other options available to work with Cotton, but it is the option that gives you the best durability and has low costs.
I recommend that once the sublimation is finished you apply an additional layer of the polymer to increase its durability to the wash if you use air pistol, give it 3 to 4 roseings and then dry it on the thermal sublimation plate.
One of the advantages of using polymer to sublimate is that it has greater durability and the image does not break or wrinkle as it happens with the transfer paper when the garment is washed or wrinkled.
What are Polyester shirts with cotton touch?
The Cotton fabric is a very soft fabric to the touch because of the characteristics of its fiber but it has the disadvantage that it can not be sublimated. An alternative that exists today and that is available in the market is the line of shirts 100% polyester but with touch of cotton.
Polyester shirts with a Cotton touch are personalized by means of sublimation. They are also breathable garments with a soft touch similar to cotton available in white. This is a good alternative for lovers of cotton garments.
Disadvantages to sublimate Cotton t-shirts
- The design resistance to washing is lower than a polyester garment
- The quality and brightness of the print is of lower quality than a sublimated garment with polyester
- When touching the printed area it feels harder not so soft as it is usually the Cotton but they are details with little importance.
- The process of sublimating Cotton shirts takes more time and carries an additional cost
The best machines to sublimate shirts
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