Sublimation Printing for Beginners

by Anthony Clark

In this rapidly dynamic changing era, everything is changing from technology to people's choices, tastes and preferences. Similarly modern society requires modern and new technological innovations. People are shifting from traditional methods to more unique and innovative technological advancement.

Sublimation printing is the perfect example of switching from conventional to more digital and advance method of printing that not only saves the time and energy but also considered as one of the most future proof printing methods.

For this let's first find out that what basically is Sublimation printing?

Sublimation printing is the high tech printing method of transferring a design into a material or fabric using heat and ink.

The Sublimation Process

The Sublimation Process
The Sublimation Process

Sublimation is basically the process that is chemical in nature. In simple words it is process of transmission of solids into gas directly without passing through any kind of liquid stage in between.

When one questions that what is sublimation printing, then it indicates the dye. We also call this type of printing as the dye-sublimation printing.

Now the question arises that if this is sublimation then what is the alternative and opposite of sublimation? The opposite of sublimation is de-sublimation or also known as deposition. Deposition is the transmission from gas to solid. Where something changes from gas to solid directly. The best examples of that would be the soot in chimneys.

Essential tools required in the process of sublimation printing

For an efficient and successful sublimation printing process, the following are the essential tools that you require.

1. Sublimation printer

Sublimation printer
Sublimation printer

You will need this special printer to create designs that are unique and durable on fabrics and other materials. Luckily this type of printer is now available in many ranges and styles, unlike some years ago where there were not the availability of these printers.

2. Sublimation paper

Sublimation paper
Sublimation paper

All you require to do is draw the design on your computer, if you have the sheet, then using a sublimation printer transfer it to sublimation paper. After that using the heat and pressure you can then transfer the design from sheet to the canvas.

3. Computer and design program

Computer and design programs are the basis of sublimation printing. If you have the PC with the software that is well matched it would be best.

4. Cutting equipment

It can be a knife that is simple or it can also be a blade that is rotating in nature. It can also be a flat cutter or for operation business that are large it can be a table cutter.

5. Heat press equipment

Heat press equipment
Heat press equipment

This equipment generates the heat that is approximately up to 400 degrees of Fahrenheit and it all through the process of sublimation.

The machine allows the paper and the ink together to become gaseous without any liquid interference and it then imprints into the pores of the fabric.

6. Transparent ink

Without any kind of liquid infusion this ink can directly change from solid to gas state.

This type of ink is important and essential when it is permanently imprints on the fabric and polymer fibers.

Why is Sublimation printing is more effective?

This method of printing is most effective as sublimation printing produces high quality end products that is the game changer in the world of apparel and fabrics.

In the world of textile and apparel sublimation printing is really a game changer.

Sublimation printing is used not only in fabrics but also in other products too..

Dye Sublimation printing

Items that you can sublimate through sublimation printing

Well well,this type of printing allows dye sublimation on not only in the fabrics but also in the rigid materials. That are

  • Photo Printing
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Wood printing
  • Sports and fashion apparel
  • Keep sake items (Cell phones, coffee mugs etc)

How dye sublimation printing works?

The special dye-sub inks are first printed on special transfer paper. From there the ink is transferred to fabric or material using heat press with the temperature that is approximately 380 to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. The process allows the ink to go from solid to gas without turning into liquid.

Dye-sublimation is reshaping the future of digital textile printing.

Magic of sublimation printing and why it's worth the investment?

In recent years the demand for sublimation printing has increased significantly as this type of printing is used to print on different types of products wether its household decor to textile and accessories opening the door of opportunities in customization products too for customers.

According to recent survey the sublimation printing have become so popular that its value in the market is expected to reach approximately $14.57 billion by 2023.

It's worth the investment as it produces the product with high quality print that won't fade, crack or peel maintaing the longevity of design even if you wash it for many times.

Wether it's on the garment or any other rigid product.

  • This type of printing gives you option to personalize and customize.
  • This type of printing is fast, efficient and environment friendly too.

The Pros of Sublimation printing

Personalization and customization

One of the vital plus point of this type of printing is that it allows you to personalize and customize the printing. You can change the size and also the quality of the image. You can also fix the errors without any hassle. It gives you the freedom to customize and be creative that is definitely not possible in the traditional methods of printing.

Quick and easy

Another pro of this printing is that it is quicker than any other traditional methods. As it is more innovative it requires less human power. However proper monitoring is required so that the end product would be of high quality.

Designs that are of high quality

This type of printing produces the designs that are innovative and of high quality that makes it better than other forms of printing. The colors and vibrancy is quite impressive and depends on the quality of the printer too that you purchase.

Long-lasting designs

Sublimation printing produces and print the designs that will not crack, fade or peel off even after you wash it as many times. Because the ink that is used in the process is absorbed and not remain as the layer on the fabric. Thus giving the advantage of high quality print fabric.

The Cons of Sublimation printing

Everything comes with its pros and cons similarly sublimation printing also has some disadvantages that are important to look into before considering that wether you should go for it or not and these are

This type of printing is only suitable for the materials that are polyester in nature. It only works with light materials. And the color that you use should also in light color so that the design that is print on it will be more clear and vibrant.


To simplify it ghosting is basically when the paper shifts from its place while printing. Resulting in the light fade and making it blurry. This will not only make the process longer but also imprints the design that is not of high quality. This issue mainly happen when the ink is dry or if the right amount of pressure is not applied in the process. To stop this type of issue you should apply the right amount of pressure on the fabric during the process and make sure that the ink is properly dry.

White creasing

The other main issue of sublimation printing is that if the design not reached properly in all the areas equally then it creates white creases on those areas. And this occurs if the fabric is folded from any side or if there is any kind of moisture on the transfer paper. Because of this the fabric that will be produce would be of low quality and it will result in the product that will not be sellable.

Color Mismatch

In sublimation printing the computer and printer have different modes. Like in computer the mode is in RGB whereas in printer the mode is CMYX. Thus the design that you will create on the computer will not exactly match after the printing. As the colors won't be the same and to avoid this you have to ensure that the settings are correct on the printer. RIP software is considered as the better way to ensure and check the color that has spotted.

Final thoughts on Sublimation Printing

In short Sublimation printing is a great choice for those wanting to create both clothing and other materials with full color and high-quality graphics.

About Anthony Clark

Anthony Clark always had a passion for digital drawing and printing ever since he was young. He would wander around his parents' house in Phoenix, Arizona drawing various things with his older digital tablet. Be it just a memory collection or a portrayal of anything: objects, parents, school, events, etc. He received his BA in Graphic Design at San Jose State University - the heart of Silicon Valley. Now Mr. Clark is excited to present his experience coupled with some colorful dips to help shape the future of printing.

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