Choose the Right Sublimation Printer
What is sublimation printing?
Sublimation, as defined by science, is the instantaneous phase change between a solid and a gas. It does not go through the normal liquid stage at very particular temperatures and pressures.
Sublimation printing aims to transfer an image from sublimation paper to a substrate using pressure and heat. This process has become increasingly common in recent years (between 350 – 400 degrees). Companies and individuals utilize this method to transform the ink’s solid particles into a gas because it’s quick, simple, and inexpensive.
Sublimation printing’s rising popularity can be attributed to the outstanding quality of the finished output. However, like any other type of printing, using a sublimation printer for shirts requires you first to learn the basics of design (via tutorials or guidelines like this) before you can attempt it on your own.
Incorrect execution of the procedure may result in ghosting patterns or white creases on the final product. Time and money are both lost as a result of this. It’s a good idea to practise on scrap fabric and run a few test patterns through the sublimation machine before committing to a large order. Starting with a basic pattern is preferable to try to cover the entire fabric simultaneously. Then, when you’re comfortable, you can try your hand at more complex designs.
How does sublimation printing Work?
Once you have settled on a design, you can have it printed onto speciality paper with a sublimation printer. Then, the pattern is transferred to the fabric with a heat press or, if you are doing it at home, by exerting pressure and placing it in the oven.
For the design to transfer onto the fabric, you must utilize transfer paper (often sublimation paper). As a result of the bond between the ink and the cloth, the colour of the print will not fade as quickly (in comparison to other printing processes). After being heated in a press or oven, the fabric’s pores are opened, and the ink is then cooled under pressure to solidify it. Once the button is depressed, the paper can be carefully peeled off the item (such as a shirt or a coffee mug) (or whatever object you have used).
Once you learn the steps involved, you can easily and affordably replicate the process at home using the best sublimation printer and a heat press. If you’ve ever struggled to develop original and eye-catching designs, consider this use of a sublimation printer a practical and imaginative solution.
What can Sublimation Printers Be Used For?
Sublimation printers are great for adding colour and detail to many projects since they can print on many substrates. Examples of how a sublimation printer can be put to use include:
The art of sublimation printing lends itself beautifully to use in interior design. Curtains, cushions, and upholstery are a few household items that can benefit from their use. In addition, sublimation may add vibrancy to your signage and marketing by enabling the use of one-of-a-kind materials. Backlighting adds a dramatic effect to sublimated materials. Making a custom banner is a common practice at conventions and a great way to attract attention.
Do you want to personalize a present? Personalized coffee mugs and keychains are common uses for sublimation printing. In addition, the method may personalize various surfaces, such as picture frames, boards, tags, and even metal plates.
Sublimation printing can give vibrant colours and intricate patterns to a wide variety of apparel because it can be applied to the fabric. Dresses, skirts, and even ties made from t-shirt printing machine can all benefit from trendy designs. Likewise, putting a team’s logo on jerseys is a simple and quick process.
Sublimation vs. Screen Printing
- Print Runs – Sublimation printing has substantial initial set-up costs. In opposition, the screen printing technique requires a significant investment for each new print run due to the high expense of the set-up process. Dye-sub is less expensive in the long term for low quantities, but it requires a more significant upfront investment. For larger print runs, it presents no problems either.
- Details– Sublimation printing uses digital technologies to provide a far higher level of detail than screen printing, which results in sharper edges. Photographic-grade printing is possible, and the level of detail from the web to print is so high that brushstrokes may be seen.
- Colours– In terms of colour, dye-sub can print an unlimited number of colours all at once; however, those colours must be created digitally. Screen printing only allows for single colour at a time, and utilizing multiple colours can lead to bleeding or alignment problems, but you are free to create any colour you wish.
- Durability – Dye-sub printing goes deep into the material’s fibres, while screen printing only covers the surface. Because of this, sublimation printing lasts a very long time without fading. It will probably outlast the vast majority of other print techniques.
Direct to Garment (DTG) vs. Sublimation
- Print Runs- DTG printing is as well suited to short print runs as to the wide format sublimation printers, much like sublimation printing. A smaller print area is required, nevertheless. Unlike direct-to-garment printing, dye-sub uses large format sublimation printers, allowing full garment coverage.
- Details- The ink used in DTG tends to spread; thus, fine details in graphics and photos won’t look as crisp as on a screen. Sublimation printing will result in crisp and detailed printing.
- Colours- DTG printing has limitations when reproducing certain colours, such as fades, glows, and gradients, especially on coloured clothes. Colour palettes can also play a role, with bright greens and pinks and metallic colours posing problems. Sublimation printing does not print onto white fabric; however, direct-to-garment printing (DTG) employs white ink for this purpose.
- Durability — With DTG, the ink is applied directly to the garment, but with sublimation printing, the ink becomes an integral part of the fabric. Consequently, you may notice that your DTG-printed design eventually fades, cracks, peels, or rubs off.
Sublimation vs. Heat Transfer
- Print Runs- If you plan to print one t-shirt every couple of months, you could find heat transfer more cost-effective than dye-sub, even though both technologies are well suited to low print runs.
- Details- The printers hold the key here because of the details. In contrast to heat transfer printing, sublimation printing utilizes a high-quality, specialized machine. Consider the many occasions you have attempted to print photographs using your home printer. Don’t you remember how foggy everything was? That’s right.
- Colours- Although full-colour dye-sub prints must be made on a computer, you can generate any shade you like by adjusting the proportions of cyan, magenta, and yellow. Heat transfer can be printed with an inkjet or laser printer; thus the colours won’t always be consistent.
- Durability- Transfers literally transfer a layer with your print on top of the fabric; thus, they last a long time. They also don’t do their weeding (unless you cut it out, you will have the whole A3 or A4 transfer layer, whether printed or not). Because the inks are never deposited, the finished product from sublimation printing never feels tacky, and the printed image never fades, peels or scratches.
What are the Best Dye Sublimation Printers?
Researching online before purchasing a sublimation printer is a good idea whether you want to buy your first printer or try to add to your current collection. There are several printers to choose from, which may cost anywhere from cheap to extremely expensive. Here’s a top five list that can cut down your options while searching for the best dye sublimation printer for your needs:
1. Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400
This entry-level sublimation printer is a clear favourite among both professionals and hobbyists working with them at home because it has a function that lets you adjust the quality or speed of the printing, has a 1200 DPI (dots per inch) feature that allows for high quality and detailed printing, is eco-friendly, and facilitates an easy transfer onto merchandise and polyester clothing. Sublimation paper allows for the production of one-of-a-kind goods. It is widely considered to be the best printing machine currently available due to the superior print quality it provides and the impressive print speeds it offers.
2. Mitsubishi CP-D70DW
The Mitsubishi CP-D70DW, one of the heaviest sublimation printers at around 26 pounds, isn’t exactly a work of art, but it’s also one of the most useful and trusted, which sets it apart. Popular among professionals in the business world who need it for events, this sublimation printer is great; however, it lacks memory card slots and conventional buttons, which can be a problem. This necessitates that the printer be permanently linked to the PC. This may put off some people looking for a wireless sublimation printer.
3. EPSON Stylus C88+
It’s a medium-sized model, so you can easily print sublimation images at home. In addition, it boasts a heat transfer technique with different kinds of ink, an automatic printing function, a 140-sheet capacity, resistance to scratches and water, and a high printing speed.
By separating the ink into its tank, you may replace only the colour that has run out without wasting the remainder. With this method, you can print more designs in less time and effort than if you had to replace the full ink cartridge every time. In addition, it’s one of the most reasonably priced options available, and it consistently appears on the “best dye sublimation printer” lists.
However, this printer has certain limitations, such as its inability to print wirelessly or on surfaces like mugs. In addition, if you are trying to print many different designs at once, it may also slow down.
4. EPSON Wireless Inkjet All-In-One WF-2630
This sublimation printer is often regarded as among the best when transferring graphics on ceramic mugs and cotton tees. It’s the most cost-effective and efficient printer available, with features like quick printing, ECO settings (that use 70% less power), and high-quality, razor-sharp output. It may be used for both private and professional needs, and it offers a unique feature- wireless connectivity from a distance.
5. EPSON Workforce WF-7710
The EPSON Workforce WF-7710 is a multipurpose sublimation printer that can handle a wide range of printing fabrics, has an intuitive 4.3-inch touchscreen for speedy image quality/resolution adjustments, and uses less energy than competing models.
This printer is ideal for individuals who need to print many copies at once, as its 250-sheet tray is among the largest in its class. In addition to being able to print wirelessly on surfaces up to 11″ x 17″, it can generate borderless prints.
However, this printer’s slow printing speed is something to think about, especially if you plan on printing many designs at once. To be fair, this is to be expected with more high-quality photographs, but it might be a drawback for those hoping to make money out of them. A different EPSON model may better suit your needs if you need a faster print speed.
Why Choose Dye Sublimation Printing?
While processes like heat transfer printing are less expensive, dye sublimation results in a higher-quality picture that will last far longer in usage. In addition, there is more freedom for creativity because of the vastly expanded range of printable substrates compared to cheaper printing methods. Heat transfer is a good option if the item in question will only be used for a limited time. However, dye sublimation is your best bet if you want to print anything that will be stored for a long time and washed to preserve it in excellent shape.
This data should be useful whether you want to use sublimation to build your concepts from scratch or are just looking for well-made products.