What is Sublimation?

What is Sublimation?

Dye sublimation printing is a digital printing method utilizing full color artwork with polymer-coated substrates and polyester. From Siser EasySubli Sublimation to HT-SubliDark, the process of sublimation is simple; in brief, it is the transition of a substance from a solid state DIRECTLY INTO a gas state, bypassing the liquid state altogether. 

With sublimation, you could print bright, full, vibrant, and multiple colors! Since the ink is embedded into the fibers, the design feels as it's part of the garment and not actually on the garment!

So what does this mean for you as you get into dye sublimation? 

Typically, this means you will need certain equipment specialized for this task, which are:

  1. Digital sublimation printer for heat transfer
  2. Sublimation ink
  3. Sublimation paper
  4. Sublimation blanks (Examples: mugs, coasters, plates, puzzles, tumblers)
  5. Heat press applicable for the blank used
  6. RIP software for the printer

When undergoing the sublimation process, ink printed on sublimation paper is pressed onto a blank by a heat press. Through heat, pressure, and time, the ink undergoes the reaction necessary for it to go from a solid to a gas state as it transfers from the sublimation paper into the blank. The ink is then infused into the blank at the molecular level, producing a design that is long-lasting and will not crack, fade, or peel under normal circumstances. 

Sublimation Printers

There are many printers specialized for sublimation use, although inkjet printers can be converted into a sublimation printer provided they had not seen any prior use. 

If you plan on using a printer for sublimation, it is highly recommended to use it at a minimum of once per week in order to avoid potential clogging of the nozzles from dried ink. 

Top sublimation printers for sale at HTV4U are Sawgrass’ SG500 and SG1000, with the SG1000 mainly being able to hold a larger media size for printing needs. Please refer to their respective specifications so you can find out which printer might be best for you.

Sawgrass SG1000 Sublimation Printer

Sublimation Blanks

As noted prior, blanks are the product you wish to print on. While they primarily must be substrates with a hard surface, it is possible to print on 100% cotton, 100% polyester, and cotton/poly blend fabrics if using Siser EasySubli

Blanks are able to be printed on thanks to a polymer coating, where pores in the polymer will open up during the sublimation process so that the ink can be infused into the material. 

EasySubli Sublimation

Sublimation Paper

1. Siser EasySubli

With Siser EasySubli, it is now possible to sublimate beyond simply white polyester! This particular heat transfer vinyl is receptive to sublimation inks, allowing it to retain the vibrant colors from the sublimation process while also being a heat press or iron-on away from getting that snazzy design onto your shirts. Siser Easysubli HTV is the key to decorating colored polyester (excluding sublimated polyester garments) and cotton blends. Never be limited to white polyester again when you switch to Siser EasySubli!

Be sure to use Siser EasySubli inks along with the recommended Sawgrass Virtuoso line of printers in order to get the most out of your EasySubli, as well as the Siser EasySubli Mask if necessary. 

2. Beaver TexPrint Paper

For the sublimation process, you will need specific “transfer” papers that are specialized to release ink necessary for sublimation. Sawgrass sublimation papers are available for sale at HTV4U along with TexPrint branded papers. Two types of TexPrint papers are available; TexPrint R is a sublimation paper suited for Sawgrass printers that use a gel base for their inks; TexPrint XPHR is more for water-based ink printers such as ones from Epson.

TexPrint Sublimation Products

While both papers are stated to work best with a specific type of ink, both are safe to use on any sublimation printer kit regardless of ink type. However, their results in printing certain types of images do vary from one paper to the other. Based on our results using a Sawgrass printer with Sublijet ink, TexPrint XPHR will release more of the gas sublimation dye into the substrate than TexPrint R.

When being used with Sawgrass and similar sublimation printers, TexPrint R will produce finished products that closely represent your original artwork, which is usually preferred for photographs. TexPrint XPHR enhances the contrast and saturation of your images, which can really make bold, colorful graphics stand out. Your preference of which TexPrint paper will ultimately depend on what type of images or graphics you print the most, and the overall look you wish to achieve.

**TexPrint has rebranded their XPHR to TexPrint DT Light and R to TexPrint DT Heavy. Rest assured that while the name is different, the paper itself is the same. 

TexPrint Sublimation Papers

3. HT-SubliDark

All in One Sublimation & EcoSolvent Printable HTV!

Looking for Sublimation paper that could print on Dark fabric?

You’re in the right place! This transfer paper will print through your Sublimation Printer then directly onto your textile. SubliDark is designed for transferring images to dark or other colored garments like Cotton, Polyester, and Cotton-Polyester Blends. For the best results, we recommend using the vinyl with EasySubli Inks by Sawgrass SG500/SG1000. Epson Subli Printer was tested; testing is required with other Sublimation printers.

HT-SubliDark Sublimation

1 comment

  • Virginia

    I need the vinyl to sublimation on black cotton shirts

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