Sublimation printing: what it is and how it works

Sublimation printing is used in a wide range of industries, including textile printing and the production of promotional items such as personalized gadgets. Gadget48 uses many different printing techniques based on the type of final rendering and the type of product to be created. Sublimation printing is chosen above all for materials that require full graphics across the entire surface such as cushions, household items, water bottles, etc.

What is sublimation printing?

Sublimation printing is a printing technique used to transfer an image from a paper support (sublimation paper) to a surface, through the process of sublimation. This is a technique particularly suitable for printing objects with flat or slightly curved surfaces, but it can also be used on products with more complex surfaces. This system allows you to produce high-quality, long-lasting images that do not fade or discolor over time.

Sublimation printing meaning

Sublimation printing owes its name to the term “sublimation” which is used in physics and chemistry to describe the passage of a substance from the solid phase to the gaseous phase without passing through the liquid state . In general, this is only possible in the presence of high temperatures and sufficient pressure on the solid.

What are sublimation printers and how are they made

Sublimation printers require a special paper support, suitable for receiving sublimation inkIn addition to the printer, a calendar is needed, i.e. a mechanism that allows the printed image to be imprinted on the object to be decorated.

What can I sublimate?

Sublimation printing works on a large number of materials, including:

  • fabrics (e.g. cotton);
  • plastic (or rePET);
  • polyester;
  • glass;
  • ceramic;
  • metal or other hard materials.

Precisely for this reason, this technique is widely used to customize gadgets and allows obtaining optimal graphic performance on:

  • colored cups ;
  • bracelets ;
  • flip-flops with patterned print ;
  • mouse mats and large mouse pads ;
  • water bottles with carabiner .

How sublimation printing works

The image is printed on a special paper (which has a porous surface), is then placed on top of the material to be sublimated and subjected to very high pressure and temperature. The heat causes the ink on the paper to sublimate, which takes on a gaseous form and spreads within the surface of the fabric or plastic, creating a long-lasting, high-quality image that does not deteriorate easily and resists wear and tear. . Another advantage of this type of printing lies in the possibility of creating complex and colorful designs, placing no limits regarding the choice of colors or the definition of details.

Application sectors

Sublimation printing is mainly used to personalize promotional items such as hats, bags, pens, key rings, bottle holders and other commonly used items. In the textile printing sector, the technique is used to create personalized garments, such as t-shirts, hoodies, flags, but also for the production of uniforms and personalized sportswear (tracksuits for sports teams, cyclists, etc…).

In addition to the production of personalized objects and the clothing sector, sublimation printing is also used to create decorative panels for interiors and exteriors, for the personalization of gardening objects and to create personalized labels for bottles and gift boxes.

Advantages of sublimation :

Maintenance of the characteristics of the fabric : by transferring the color directly onto the fibres, sublimation does not alter the breathability, elasticity and resistance of the fabrics which will keep the properties of the technical materials unaltered;
Zero limits on creativity : like any desktop printer, it is capable of transferring a wide range of colors and shades of the digital design onto the fabric, maintaining very high resolution of colors and images;
Long lasting and resistant over time : the color is not subject to fading or scratches because the pigments that are transferred are not sensitive to UV rays and the coloring is permanent.
Limitations of sublimation printing:

Material Limitation : Sublimation printing on 100% pure, untreated cotton is not applicable, as it is a natural fiber that sublimation ink cannot fuse onto;
Transparency of pigments : sublimation on dark fabrics is not possible, because there are no white sublimation inks. Transparent colors are used which absorb the tone of the background onto which they are transferred and, therefore, are not applicable on black backgrounds.
Transmatic has consolidated in-depth experience in the hot stamping sector over time and offers a wide range of flatbed and calendering presses for indirect sublimation printing.

Thanks to the company’s skills and professionalism combined with continuous investments and constant research, Transmatic is today able to offer current and versatile products designed to fully satisfy every need.

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