What is dye sublimation printing? A Guide by WTPBiz

what is dye sublimation printing- A guide

Dye sublimation printing is one of the best-known printing methods for signs and banners. It is a modern way that allows businesses to expand their service offerings by allowing their customers to print banners and signs on a variety of printing materials and ensure quality and customer satisfaction. Today in this blog we would be introducing you to dye sublimation printing, how it is done, and important things that you should know about it. So, let’s get started by upgrading our knowledge of dye sublimation printing.

Dye Sublimation Printing: Definition

Dye sublimation is a method that transfers the image, text, or anything that you want to print onto a polyester or polyester-coated fabric using heat. The sublimation heat transfer mechanism used in the printing process makes the product more durable as it imbeds the ink directly “into” the surface, rather than superficially printing it. This protects the print against wear and tear and allows you to provide printing services for the businesses that are looking for signages and banners that can sustain in adverse environmental conditions.

Furthermore, it is a very versatile method of printing as it allows businesses to create more durable images on a variety of printing materials. They are great for outdoor advertising products such as banners and signages and offer more durable and cost-effective solutions. You can also use the sublimation heat transfer method to print on products of varying shapes and sizes. In short, if your sublimation printer supports printing on any material of any shape and size, you can simply transfer the print to that object.

Sublimation heat transfer: how does it work?

Dye sublimation is a great way to take a special type of ink in the form of gas and transfer it onto the project. After the transfer, the gas solidifies to give you the print.

The ink in the liquid phase allows gases to penetrate the material. And this is how it gets rooted into the material rather than lying superficially onto the material. As mentioned, the traditional method of the printing simply places the ink on the top of the product which also limits your options as a business as to what material to use depending on the climate conditions, wear and tear, etc., the product needs to endure.

Dye sublimation hence creates a color bond between the surface of the object and ink and hence emerges as a durable and practical solution for outdoor advertising object printing. Also, dye sublimation printing does not cause any harm to the surface of the product. Meanwhile, the traditional printing methods for polyester or polyester-coated material damage the final product.

Stage-wise dye sublimation process:

  1. The dye sublimation process uses disperse dies in gaseous form.
  2. The dye sublimation printer takes the image that has to be transferred to the object on a transfer paper.
  3. Then, the transfer paper is placed over the final product.
  4. Using a heat press – start applying high pressure, high heat onto the transfer paper to pass the image onto the final product.
  5. Once done, remove the heat, causing the ink to dry solid.
  6. The ink gets transferred into the polyester fabric and you get a beautiful and durable finished product.
  7. The product is washable too.

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Testing the durability of Dye Sublimation Printing?

The two biggest factors that are decisive in the durability of the dye sublimation printing process are the quality and care of the product. If you care for the object well you can use the object for years and no damage would be there. But if not, then you are turning the odds against you.

Also, the quality of the link you are using can be a crucial factor. Bad quality ink may fade from a simple resistance. Depending on the environmental conditions the object has to endure you can decide which ink you want to use. The more climate-appropriate ink you use the more long-lasting it would ve. Also, the dye sub printer uses a sublimation printer to transfer the image onto the object hence, the quality of the paper should be good. Standard copier paper will not do the job, the high-quality lasting image needs a good sublimation paper.

Besides the machine used in the process is also very important. There is a wide array of sublimation printers and they cost different depending on the usage, quality, speed of printing, etc. You have to make sure the machine used is of high quality. Some machines are good for indoor objects and may fail you when you are looking for an outdoor advertising solution. These machines are also small and cost-effective, but they are not good for printing banners and are something that would endure various climate conditions. For that, you need a bigger, more expensive machine. A Higher-quality machine is what you need.

Supplies, machines, and more, but most of all how you care for the product is going to be the final key factor in ensuring product durability. Regularly clean the product and handle it with care. You can wash and clean the product and this is a benefit of using dye sublimation printing, so never ignore it. Now since the image is embedded in the fabric, you need to wash the product well and handle it with care.

How to start dye sublimation printing?

Dye sublimation printing is a unique way to meet your outdoor advertising needs. they work great for the large and small size banners and signages. If you want to include dye sublimation printing into your services, you need to have a couple of things.

The first thought, it is a pretty simple process and hence does not require many resources. As mentioned before, a good quality machine is a must-have. Depending on the size of solutions, you should decide what machine would be perfect for you, and later the quality of solutions is provided to decide what is the best fit for the services you look forward to providing. This should narrow down your search for the machine.

Next, once you are done with the heat press and printer come to the supplies. Depending on the machine you need to choose what best fits your budget. There are many options to choose from.

Once this is done, a sewing machine to secure the edges and create the hinges to tie it and securely hang it. You can go for the Digitran automated sewing machine, cost-effective and the best of the breed so far. This machine is all-in-one and you can use it for so many things.  It has hands-free-feeding and thread cutting, automated front and back tacking, easy touch controls, powerful transport system – synced for accuracy and precision.

What materials can be printed using Dye Sublimation Printing?

As mentioned earlier, the polyester and polyester coated materials can be best printed using dye sublimation printer. You can also print other varieties in style and sizes and this includes:

  • Home décor
  • Window treatments
  • Tapestries
  • Upholstery
  • Sports apparels
  • Dresses
  • Scarves
  • Pillowcases
  • Ties
  • Bathing suits
  • Handbags
  • Backlit graphics
  • Silicone edge graphics
  • Cell phone cases
  • Mousepads
  • Coffee mugs
  • Luggage tags
  • License plates and the list goes on.

More about the Specific ink you need to use?

The ink used by the sublimation printer for heat transfer becomes gaseous under pressure and heat and later solidifies at the normal temperature hence you need to use a very specific type of ink and they are called disperse dyes, or dye-sub inks.

You can find these inks in a wide variety, and a lot of vendors are available online that offer great offers on wholesale purchases. Some of the brands such as Mimaki have even come up with fluorescent dye sub ink which is a good attraction for the customers.

More about the dye sublimation printers

While there are a variety of dye sublimation printers available on the market there are some very good ones. The sublimation printer for heat transfer allows the dispersal of the ink on the transfer paper and this is done through high pressure and heat. In general, the good-quality dye sublimation printers are available in sizes 44” wide up to 10’ wide. Some good printers that we totally recommend are:

  1. Mimaki TS55: 74” – a leader in high production sublimation printing
  2. Mimaki CJV300-160 Plus: comes with contour cutting setting, perfect for high-volume production of small items.
  3. Epson F6370H: 64” – roll-to-roll dye sublimation printer designed for printing on versatile products.
  4. Mutoh RJ-900: 42”- four-color, roll-to-roll printer best for small banners and flags, and apparel.
  5. Mutoh VJ-1638WX: 64” – ideal for everyday printing for interior design products, apparel, and other similar products.

More about the additional equipment

The dye sublimation printing would be done in multiple steps and hence some extra resources are required other than the printer and ink. Here is the complete list:

  • Heat press: heat press for a variety of printers – available in various sizes, styles, and price points. Here are some types of heat presses you can choose from:
  1. Flatbed Press: if you are transferring onto a solid object, use a flatbed press. They are also good for printing t-shirts and products that require all-over prints.
  2. Calendar Press: the press traditionally uses oil but also comes in electrically heated drums for heat transfer. Best for apparel, home décor, soft signages, and similar products. It is a good option for high-volume printing.
  • Cutting and sewing machine: We have already provided you with the best solution for cutting and sewing the product, but depending on the application, and usage you can always go for the other available options.

You need a cutting and sewing machine for a range of items and depending on the application the cost of the machine differs. Other than that, if you are looking for a factory setup then you have to think of an expensive tool.

How to make the dye sublimation business profitable and cost-efficient?

Now, that you know what is sublimation printing, it is time to get down on the cost factorization.

Dye sublimation is a multi-step process and would require a variety of resources to support printing. Dye sublimation can be intimidating and expensive if you are going to use it in factory applications. the printers alone can cost around $20,000 and that is just the beginning. There are heat presses, sewing machines, supplies and so much more.

But the market is expanding and there are various cost-effective options available. You just need to find the right tool to make sure it is fitting your needs and providing you with the desired quality in your budget.

Printers such as Mimaki, Epson, and Mutoh have solutions under $10,000 that you can choose from. Rather than being intimidated by the cost and completely chiding off the idea of investing in dye sublimation printing, think about the versatility of solutions you would be able to provide and in the long run, it is a cost-effective solution. Consider all the factors to make the right decision for your business.

Talking of technology, do you know about the web to print?

Web to print is one of the biggest trends in the print industry. It allows your customers to make product customizations using the online web to print editor and place orders from you. and just like an ecommerce solution you process the order and deliver it to their doorsteps. It is a convenient printing solution and individuals and small, medium-sized and large businesses are using it to meet their print-specific needs. In case, you are looking forward to investing in web-to-print solutions, consider talking to our customer care executive to know complete details of our technology solutions.

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