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Dye-Sublimation Printing is quickly gaining popularity among promotional product printers because of its diverse application on a diverse range of products. If you too are planning to add dye-sublimation to your business, here are the three things you need to know about dye-sublimation.

1. You can sublimate a wide range of products:

Dye-sublimation is applicable to both fabric and rigid materials and recently made possible with the advent of wide-format printers. You can print from banners to ceramic tiles. It works by fusing the ink on the surface of the substrate. Man-made materials such as nylon, plastics, polyester fabric contain polymers, which when heated, it facilitates the ink to bond.

It yields permanent color which is embedded in the substrate or fabric, rather than printed on the surface. Dye-sublimated fabric won’t fade or crack even after multiple items of washing and images don’t chip, peel or scratch.

Here are the types of materials that can be printed with dye-sublimation:

Rigid Substrates: Dye-sublimation is no longer limited just to fabric substrates, there is a range of variety of product and promotional possibilities available. There is the advent of a new polymer treated materials which have been developed specifically for dye-sublimation application such as aluminum, brass, glass, fiberglass, acrylic, plastic, etc.

Rigid Products: Most common rigid products used in dye-sublimation include mousepads, keychains, phone case, bowls, etc. These items are can be easily sublimated and are great additions to the range of custom branding items your business can provide.

Fabrics: Dye-sublimation encompasses a wide range of fabric for designing. The choice comes in two different types: woven texture such as exterior banners and signage and knit materials such as custom apparel, flags, banners, table covers, etc.

Sports and Fashion Apparel: From sports t-shirts to cycling jerseys to baseball caps, it can be dye-sublimated and moreover you can reap the opportunity of the ever-growing popularity of sports and fashion apparel.

Ceramics: Designers can create customized ceramic tiles for their kitchen or restaurant etc. All the material listed above is a polymer, hence, suitable for heat transfer. You will also find many pre-treated products available which enable dye-sublimation printing on a wider range of products.

2. Different types of machine required for dye-sublimation printing

Printing is only the first step in dye-sublimation; to transfer it on a product, you need heat and pressure.

Dye-sublimation is a two-part process:

  • Printing graphics onto a sublimation transfer paper using sublimation inks.
  • Using heat press to transfer the ink-on-paper to the items you want to customize.

Moreover, if you want to accommodate a variety of products, you will need other components such as a computer with RIP software, a cutting device, and a sewing device.

Computer with RIP software:

First of all, you will need a computer and software to design and process your digital graphics for printing. Unfortunately, not all sublimation printer brands provide a RIP software, hence you have to do your own research and find out the best RIP software which is compatible with your printer.

Cutting Device:

For beginners you will need a rotary blade and a hot knife to cut knit material and the sealing of woven fabric but if you are opening a professional business you will need an XY cutting machine or a digital flatbed cutter with registration capabilities for accurate knie and effective pattern cutting if you plan to print you own apparel.

Sewing Device:

Producing soft signage and prints on apparel, you will need a sewing and hemming machine for custom apparel, banner pole pockets, and a silicon edge sewing for SEG graphic application. You will also need a manual sewing machine for apparel and computerized automatic sewing machine with auto-command and auto-feed features for large format joint and hemming.

3. You need a high-quality heat press

Heat presses are available in varying size with wide application. Even with these variations, they all function the same way. The machine simultaneously heats the ink on the transfer paper as well as the polymer fibers in the substrate to transfer the ink on the surface of the substrate. After a minute a so, the heat is removed and the transfer paper is peeled off, leaving behind the permanent, full-color graphic on the substrate. It is one of the simple and effective methods to apply graphics to the fabrics and other media.

You will need both a professional sublimation printer as well as a press to create large format signs and graphics for your customers.

There are 4 primary types of heat press available:

Small Format Heat Press

If you are planning to sublimate smaller items such as caps, mugs, plates, shoes, and t-shirts, then you don’t need an expensive profession press. Investing just $2000 or more, you can get a standard full-size shirt press from good brands and that too with heat and pressure controls.

Calender Heat Press

There are some large format presses that are built for items such as large exterior banners, signage, flags and other fabric sublimation. If you add a table attachment to your calendar unit, you can cut and sew apparel pieces as well.

Flatbed Heat Press

They are not good at managing the kind of rolls and fabric sizes that a Calendar heat press can, however, there are heat presses that are versatile enough to heat transfer on fabric as well as aluminum, floor mats, and other products.

3D Vacuum Heat Press

This heat press is a compact desktop machine that enables heat transfer onto the material with a curved edge or shape. It is typically used to print phone covers, mugs, ceramic plates, picture frames, buttons and other small devices.

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