what is dye-sublimation?

Wednesday July 10, 2019 16:52

Dye-sublimation might seem like an intimidating jargon but it’s not rocket science.

It is a technical term that refers to a digital printing technology that uses pressure and heat transfer to apply an image (or print) to a specially coated material (substrate). This is the technology behind the decoration or print on many of your clothing material, as in apparel printing, as well as in retail branding and packaging.

Dye-sub printing can also be applied as fabric display printing, fabric tension display printing, as well as silicone edge graphic printing (SEG), to make visually attractive signs and banners.

How dye sublimation works

Dye-sublimation is a two-step process regardless of whether it is being used for apparel printing, fabric printing, fabric retail printing, flag printing or any of the many other applications.

The first step is more or less a preparatory phase;

It involves using sublimation inks to print graphics onto a special transfer paper. Liquid gel inks are used in this process to transfer the sublimation dyes onto a high-release ink-jet paper also known as transfer paper. Once the ink is deposited on the paper, the next step then begins.

The second step is the actual printing process;

It requires both heat and pressure to transfer the printed transfer sheets.

The solid dye gets converted to a gaseous form without passing through the liquid phase. The combination of heat and pressure also causes the ink to penetrate deep into the interior of the substrate to create a permanent color bond. As soon as the heat is removed, the gaseous dye returns to its solid form.

Benefits of dye-sub

Dye-sublimation is a faster and more cost-effective way to print colorful and vivid graphics on fabric and other materials.  The ink, upon application, is embedded deep into the fibers of the apparel or other surface materials. The graphics are deeply and permanently embedded in the fabric and so they are near-photographic and usually have smooth and flawless surfaces.

When used on a garment for fabric printing, the print feels more like a part of the fabric rather being on the fabric. The process makes it possible to print multiple full and bright colors and leaves you with bright images and prints that will hold up well against the elements without creasing, cracking or fading so easily.

The process is also completely environmentally-friendly.

  • The dyes used are water-based dyes without any of the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) normally found in solvent-based dyes.
  • The mechanism behind the dye-sub process is the sublimation reaction that converts solid to gas and gas back to solid. The process does not involve evaporation and no nasty vapors are released into the atmosphere.
  • The process does not involve water and the prints dry up quickly as soon as the material is out of the printer. Water is preserved and there is no need for energy-guzzling heaters.

Application of sublimation printing

Dye-sublimation has a wide range of applications aimed at businesses and individuals.

These may include its application for;

  • Apparel printing
  • Fabric printing/fabric retail printing/fabric tension display printing
  • Silicone Edge Graphic Printing (SEG)
  • Fabric lightbox printing, etc.

Materials such as flock, twill, and glitter that are printable dye sublimation materials are fine for dye-sub printing. Garments for dye-sub should, however, be at least 50% polyester or polymer-coated substrates.

Fabric retail printing

This digital printing technology is in many ways superior to traditional printing.

It can be used to print graphics on fabric materials of diverse types from poly-poplin to satin, poly-silk, poly-knit, chiffon, taffeta, sheer dacron, gaming suede, poly-dick, spun-poly, mesh, outdoor flag cloth, and even carpet. The fabric materials won’t crack or crease when folding them nor will they curl at the edges from washing.

Dye-sub prints also have a smooth and non-glare finish.

This, coupled with their ability to withstand extreme circumstances makes them more suitable for outdoor applications such as exhibition graphics, outdoor flags, and portable displays. The excellent visual impact of these graphics also means they can help businesses deliver a superb branding experience. This is why dye-sublimation has found popularity in not just furnishing and apparel printing but equally in fabric retail printing.

Need dye-sublimation printing for your business?

Well, you’ll need more than just basic handyman-level expertise to create the kind of vivid prints that would truly trigger interest and attract attention to your business. OneFrame boasts the expertise, resources, and technology you’ll need to get the very best of dye-sub.

Our specialty revolves around fabric retail printing with a purpose to help retail brands propagate their brand message and image in the best way. But we can also take on dye-sub projects in other areas such as fabric apparel printing, and even furnishing.

Dye-sub can bring a lot more value to your branding and advertising efforts. But you’ll still need a great deal of expertise and professionalism to make this work for you.  Should your business require dye-sublimation printing at any point, you can count on our exceptional speed, performance and printing quality at OneFrame to help you get maximum value for your money.

Contact us today to get started!

what is dye-sublimation?