Dye sublimation is a transfer process that produces a full-color, photo-quality reproduction of a digital image using ink that turns into gas when heat is applied. The gas permeates, or dyes, the substrate - becoming an inherent part of whatever material it's applied to. Dye sublimation is a tremendously versatile technology with applications in apparel, awards, promotional products, signage and much more.
DYE SUBLIMATION PROCESS
Create a customized graphic using professional graphics software. Sublimation images are capable of rendering millions of colors in high resolution to produce photo-quality images as well as vector graphics and text.
Print your customized graphic to an inkjet printer using sublimation inks on sublimation-compatible paper.
Place the printed image face down on the sublimation-ready surface, such as a 100% polyester T-shirt. You may wish to secure or
tack the paper to the item with repositionable adhesive spray, found at craft and hardware stores. Place the product and sublimation print under a heat press, following manufacturer directions for temperature and time. (Usually, recommended temperature for T-shirts is around 400oF for about 50 seconds at 30-40 PSI.) Strive to achieve continuous contact between the heated platen and the sublimation transfer. When time is up, use heat protective gloves to remove the transfer. When the item has cooled, it's ready to wear.
DYE SUBLIMATION EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
- COMPUTER: A desktop or laptop computer with graphics software such as Adobe Creative Suite. Wide format systems may require RIP software, a printer driver that can be calibrated for color and quality for your specific print set-up.
- DYE SUBLIMATION-COMPATIBLE INKJET PRINTER AND INK: Choose from a growing number of dye sublimation printers, many from the same manufacturers that produce home office inkjet printers.
- HEAT PRESS: Clamshell or swing-away presses with a platen large enough for apparel items.
- SUBSTRATE: Only 100% polyester garments such as the GILDAN PERFORMANCE® 42000 and 42400 T-shirt families are suitable for dye sublimation. White or very light colored garments are also essential, since any background color will affect the appearance of the image.