What is Sublimation Printing

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing has been around since the late 1940s, and it’s widely used in clothing manufacturing today, with over 1000 t-shirt manufactures using sublimation methods to print on shirts or other clothing items.

Sublimation printing also has many uses outside t-shirts including leather jackets, wall art, posters, bags, and more! This article will discuss the basics of sublimation printing and what you need to know to start sublimation printing products at home or in your business.

How sublimation printing works

It’s more than a snazzy name. It’s actually a physical process where special printers (sublimation printers) use heat to transfer images from special films onto t-shirts, posters, mugs and other products. The whole process occurs in under 5 seconds, so it doesn’t even require ink or toner – just electricity and heat.

This makes it an ideal technique for inexpensively printing small-to-medium runs of images on fabric substrates (think t-shirts and bags). There are several advantages to using sublimation printing over traditional printing methods such as offset printing or screen printing.

How To Do Sublimation Printing?

Your prints will come out of your printer in a continuous stream. If you’re printing on paper, separate each print and tape them together with clear packing tape. This will allow you to cut and bind them into a book later. If you’re printing on vinyl, simply tape all your sheets together while they are still warm and roll them up into a tight cylinder.

Once they have cooled, cut off any excess vinyl around your image that might be flapping in the wind (don’t worry if there’s rough edges from cutting). Next, secure your printed banner to a board using industrial-strength Velcro.

How To Start A Sublimation Printing Business?

In order to make money in sublimation printing, you’ll first need to buy a printer and set up your business. Don’t worry—there are no special permits or licenses required. To start, you’ll need to decide on whether you want to go into a local retail location or open an online shop.

Both options have their own benefits and disadvantages; in-person shops require more startup capital (as they include things like space, inventory and staff), but online shops can be more difficult to get off of the ground since some people are still wary of shopping online.

Whichever option you choose, remember that your customers will likely visit multiple places when looking for products, so it’s important to do everything possible to stand out from your competition.

Why is sublimation printing effective

Sublimation printing produces high-quality, full-color prints. Unlike traditional printing methods such as screen printing and offset printing, sublimation avoids dot gain that tends to blur details in thick inks. Prints will appear more crisp and detailed than with other processes.

Best of all, because it uses water-based inks rather than solvent inks, sublimation doesn’t leave harmful chemical residues on clothing. This makes it a popular option for apparel print shops and manufacturers looking to avoid toxic substances during production.

Who benefits from sublimation printing

More and more businesses are turning to sublimation printing in order to fulfill their business requirements. As far as printing goes, most small businesses have a limited budget, which means they have to get creative with ways to make sure their business continues growing.

The great thing about sublimation printing is that it allows for unique pieces of merchandise that traditional t-shirt printers simply can’t create. This makes it perfect for any organization looking for an affordable option that allows them to express themselves creatively.

Moreover, whether you’re looking to sell these custom printed items or give them away as promotional materials, there’s no need for additional packaging costs. This is because everything you require for printing your custom products will be included in one low-cost package.

How do I choose a printer

Choosing a printing company is just as important as choosing a printer. If you’re looking for cheap t-shirts, for example, some print shops will charge you less but send you shirts made of thinner material. If that isn’t something you’re willing to live with, make sure to find out what your printing company uses before going with them.

Remember: cost isn’t everything. You might pay more up front with one shop, but get better service in return—which means lower costs in the long run. So talk to any prospective printers about their experience and how they price and quote jobs before making a decision.

Do I have to be an artist?

For those of you who are artistically challenged (or just don’t have time to create custom designs), there are other ways to add customization. For example, you can personalize a T-shirt with a photo printed on it—no artistic skill required. Take your favorite picture and upload it onto your computer (if necessary).

Then, upload that image into an online photo editing tool like Photofunia. If you can’t find a photo-editing tool that works for you, there are plenty of tutorials out there that explain how to use Photoshop or Gimp to edit photos. Once you get your design edited, buy a sublimation printer at one of several online retailers.

Do I have to be technical?

No, but you’ll have to be creative. Technically speaking, sublimation printing is a process in which a continuous tone image that has been previously printed on transfer paper (exactly like an overhead transparency or copy-board) is exposed and fused onto polyester or polyester/cotton fabrics using high heat and pressure.

But let’s not get too technical here—let’s just go with it being magic. The great thing about sublimation printing though, compared to silk screening for example, is that there are no restrictions on what can be printed on (within reason of course) due to low ink bleed through and high resolution.

For example—you could print an image onto clothing of someone jumping out of a plane!

What fabrics can be printed on?

For all intents and purposes, almost any fabric can be printed on by sublimation. You may have to do some experimenting in order to ensure that your ink does not clog your printer head or seep through to create a mess on another side of your item, but for every rule, there is an exception!

Printable fabrics can range from Lycra Spandex, Polyester blends, Acrylic blends and even Leather! The fabric you choose will depend on what look you want to achieve. Some fabrics are highly opaque and hide details; others are transparent or translucent, allowing for greater visibility of whatever color you’re printing on top of it.

Can all types of artwork be printed onto fabric?

The answer to that is yes, but only artwork that has been converted into a digital format can be printed. Traditional art such as pencil drawings and watercolors cannot be used. However, with the advent of tablets, artists are able to quickly digitize their work and convert it for sublimation printing.

How long does it take?: That depends on what you’re getting printed and where you have it done. On average, expect at least one week from when you submit your order until when your fabric arrives in your mailbox or at your business location. What kind of printer do I need?: There are a number of places online that offer sublimation printers for sale on their websites.

Can other items be printed on besides clothing and textiles?

It’s possible to print onto a wide variety of surfaces, though some require special ink. For example, if you want to print on glass or wood, you will need special heat-activated inks. Other options include ceramics and t-shirts with sublimated glitter printing. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to sublimation printing!

How do I create my own design or logo to print on products with this technology?

Start by creating a concept sketch of your idea on paper. Your design doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just make sure it has enough detail so that you can communicate what you want to a printer. Once you’ve got your idea down on paper, find a printer that specializes in sublimation printing; they’ll do all the legwork in turning your idea into an actual product.

You might be surprised at how reasonable printers are in terms of pricing for their services!

What Is The Best Printer For Sublimation Printing?

There are a few brands of printer that can print on sublimation paper. It is best to use an Epson Printer. However, you might want to check and see if your local printing shop has an Epson printer or if they can order one for you because these printers are a little more expensive.

The best thing about sublimation printing is that you can print any image on any color of cloth no matter what size, shape or how many shirts your customer orders!

How Much Does Sublimation Inks Cost?

This can be one of the biggest issues when trying to determine your pricing structure. There are a wide variety of factors that need to be considered such as how much color you are using, where you are ordering from, and how many garments you are ordering at once.

The best way to find out what your pricing should be for each ink color and quantity is by talking with different suppliers. A great way to do that would be with a sample pack. When you buy sample packs, they typically come in 5 sizes and contain inks in every color so that you can really play around with them before purchasing larger amounts or selecting a particular supplier.

This also ensures that your finished products look good, and nothing could be more important than getting samples first!

How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last?

There’s a bit of confusion about how long sublimation ink lasts, but in general you can expect it to last for a year or two. You should expect it to fade sooner in places with high amounts of moisture like steamy bathrooms and kitchens, or outdoors where it’s exposed to rain and UV light.

Be sure to keep your design out of direct sunlight as much as possible; if that’s not possible, protect it with a UV resistant coating. Most sublimated designs also come with multiple layers of protection; check out substrate in our glossary for more information on what those are made of.

Can Sublimation Be Done On Cotton?

The short answer is yes. However, sublimation cannot be done on just any cotton shirt. Any shirt you are thinking of getting printed on needs to meet a few requirements: it needs to be 100% cotton, have no polyester content, and your design needs to be screen printed on a flat area.

If your design features text with curves or fine details that can bleed into other areas, it will not print well using sublimation methods. In that case, you need to get it silk-screened instead of sublimated. Silk screening uses ink in a similar way as sublimating, but uses solid colors instead of color gradients.


The purpose of sublimation printing is to transfer a print from paper to material. While transferring ink directly from paper to fabric was a laborious process, sublimation allows your ideas to be realized instantly and more quickly than traditional methods of print production.

Since sublimating ink will never fade or wash away, it’s an excellent method for direct-to-garment printing in higher volume. If you don’t have time for a long print run and still want custom apparel or promotional products for your clients, then sublimated clothing may be what you’re looking for.

Last Updated on October 3, 2022

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *