Sublimation Printing and the Advantages and Disadvantages of This Print Method
Sublimation printing is the process where photo quality images, graphics or text can be transferred to a wide range of items including garments, metals, acrylics to name a few via heat transfer.
Specialised sublimation ink must be used as when this ink is heated it changes its state from a solid to a gas, without the need for the liquid phase. When this has come into contact with polymer fibres it is able to pass through them, which in turn permanently dyes the fabric.
For the Sublimation process to work effectively the items to be printed must be first polymer coated or already polymer based. (ie polyester t-shirt)
Because almost any item can be polymer coated this process allows prints onto almost anything, such as ceramic mugs, glass, metal sheets, acrylic and other unsub items like mousemats, coasters or phone cases to name a few. Sublimation printables are constantly updating, as long as the item can be polymer coated and heat pressed it is highly likely it can be sublimated.
Because of this sublimation printing is vast becoming one of the most popular printing methods within the industry.
The advantages of sublimation printing are as follows;
1. Sublimation method allows you to print full-color images onto hard surfaces with a polymer coating.
2. Screen printing can be a complicated learning process and become quite messy whereas sublimation is an easier process to master.
3. Sublimation allows the use of a full-color spectrum.
4. Cost the same amount to print 1 item that it does to print 1000, meaning the customer doesn’t need to order minimum order quantities, making sublimation the perfect print process for small business looking for promotional items, or the gift personalization market.
5. The customer can completely customize. Sublimation printing does not require screens or specialist plates, meaning its a simple process to customize designs with any elements that change such as individual names, team numbers.
6. Sublimation can be a quick process depending on order which could allow companies to offer same day or in some cases, same hour printing.
Some of the disadvantages of sublimation printing are as follows;
1. The inks can be quite expensive to buy compared to other OEM ink printers, which is usually factored into the pricing of sublimated products.
2. The items to be printed need to be either made of polymer fabrics or coated with a polymer to ensure the sublimation process works effectively.
3. Printables are required to be ideally white or very lightly colored. Because the color is dyed into the fabric sublimation printing cannot be used on dark printables such as black umbrellas.
4. Although with the sublimation process it is possible to access the whole color spectrum, it is very difficult to manage the colors on the printers, this has been helped over the years with the introduction of the power drivers.