Here’s a fun fact: high temperatures can trigger certain dyes to undergo a special change – sublimation.
This then forms the basis of another impressive way to print your designs onto the t-shirts you want. Read on for more cool facts about dye sublimation below!
What It Is?
Dye sublimation printing is a unique process unlike others. It employs the use of heat sensitive inks and has the novel ability to fuse the ink into the t-shirt itself through sublimation.
The first origins of this printing technique came about back in the late 1950s. It was thought to be further developed and perfected by various people across the globe over the years.
To understand the overall idea of this unique printing process, let’s go back to the books. Usually, all substances occur and switch between three different states: the solid, liquid and gaseous.
In dye sublimation, there is no liquid state. It’s in essence a process where a substance changes from the solid to gaseous state directly while being heated. Hence, gases solidify during the cooling process.
For successful printing, three main items are needed, namely a heat press, heat transfer paper and a special sublimation printer.
The entire process is split into two parts.
First, the design is printed onto the heat transfer paper. The sublimation printer basically uses heat to transfer dye using heat sensitive sublimation ink. A mirror image of the design is printed.
During this process, the inks are heated into the gaseous state and gradually turns solid as it cools down on the transfer paper.
Second, the design is transferred to the t-shirts using the heat press. The heat sensitive inks are exposed to heat and pressure from the heat press until the gases solidify.
During the process, the inks also infuse and solidify into the garment directly.
Why and Why Not?
Dye sublimation printing has its own attractive set of perks. Unlike other printing methods, the design printed is permanent and will not encounter fading or peeling even after long periods of time. You can wash and handle it without affecting the image quality at all.
This technique also offers full customization all throughout the shirt including the sides and borders.
For those who can’t stand the rough touch of the ink printed, this is a good choice because it blends in with the material, resulting in a soft effect when you feel it.
What’s more, you can select from a huge array of colours totaling up to the thousands for more design possibilities.
However, dark-coloured apparels cannot be printed on via this method, so you can only opt for dye sublimation if your apparel is white or light in colour. The materials it can be printed on is also restrictive – it cannot be printed on cotton, only synthetic (e.g. nylon) and polyester textiles.
The printing speed is also another consideration because it’s relatively slow and sluggish. Cost-wise, it can be pricey if you’re only printing a few t-shirts.
Sublimation is to go for if you are looking for all over prints on drifit polyester tshirts. Some popular apparels would be cycling jerseys. This printing method is not cheap however, it is an exclusive piece of tshirt for your team.