Sublimation Printing: Cost, Use and How To Get Started

Sublimation Printing: Cost, Use and How To Get Started

June 29, 2021

In the world of apparel, sublimation has been standing out as a game-changer. It allows designers to come up with their creativity that goes from seam to seam. But newbies, in the world of fashion and designs, might find themselves confused with this word and what procedures this process entails.

For anyone that is here for a quick answer, know that sublimation simply is the process of transferring designs or motifs to the garments with the use of ink and heat. Heat is used in sublimation printing to basically fuse ink and cloth into one.

A design is first printed on special paper. When heat is applied to the inks, they convert into gas, which then combines with the cloth to create a permanent print. Because the ink is entrenched in the fabric or substrate rather than merely resting on top like a conventional print, the effects are persistent and less prone to fading.

The heat opens the pores of the cloth, and the ink cools and returns to a solid-state with the applied pressure. 

Sublimation printing

If you have gotten a tattoo or seen someone getting one, then you know how sublimation works. It’s almost the same. 

Pros and Cons of Sublimation

The most interesting advantage of this approach is the complete flexibility you have with your designs, which is something that other methods do not always provide.

The design’s durability is a bonus, with a finish that won’t crack, peel, or fade. Your clothing will never be relegated to the back of your closet, no matter how many times it has been through the washing machine!

Small quantity orders, seam-to-seam patterns, and garments with a wide range of design variants and applications are all good candidates for sublimation printing.

On the downside, the majority of the drawbacks stem from the materials used. Only polyester-based clothing is acceptable for sublimation printing (100 percent polyester or polyester blend). Although other materials, such as cotton, can be sublimated, the image will not be as persistent as it is on ‘man-made’ fabric, and it is not advised.

White creasing is another possible issue to be aware of. Sublimation works by printing a design onto white fabric, and any portions of the garment that the design does not reach will remain white. Accidental folding or tiny quantities of moisture accumulating on the transfer paper might cause this.

Designs with Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing works especially well on eccentric, dramatic, and nearly absurd patterns, which have been a huge trend in both high and low-end retailers in recent years.

Photography prints are another sort of design that works well with sublimation printing. Instead of putting the image in a rectangle pattern on the front of the garment, this approach allows you to fill the entire surface with it.

When your clothing requires a variety of logos or graphics, sublimation is a great option. Traditional printing may charge you for each individual logo application, however, sublimation allows you to combine and print a huge number of them at once.

Sublimation Vs DTG

Sublimation printing may not perform as well for designs with block colors or designs that demand extreme precision in placing. Direct to garment (DTG) printing is ideal for designs that include slogans. DTG printing is similar to using a regular printer, however, it’s only for t-shirts. The graphics are then transferred to the garment using a special flatbed printer.

Sublimation may not be the best option if you only require one logo in the center of your garment, simply because it is more expensive to ‘print all over’ than it is to put one logo front and center.

Knowing the limitations of sublimation printing and selecting a design intelligently are two important aspects of using it effectively. After reading the benefits and drawbacks and considering the examples above, you should be able to determine if the design you have in mind would work with sublimation printing or whether DTG is the better option.

You can read more on DTG here.

Is there a difference between sublimation and heat transfer?

The most significant distinction between heat transfer and Sublimation is that in Sublimation, just the ink transfers to the material.

There is generally a transfer layer that is transferred to the material during the heat transfer process.

Is it possible to sublimate onto just about anything?

It works well with polyester fabrics for the greatest Sublimation effects.

It works with a variety of materials having a specific polymer coating, such as mugs, mousepads, coasters, and other items.

Sublimation may be used on glass in some circumstances, but it must be regular glass that has been properly treated and prepared with a specialized spray.

Why can’t I sublimate dark-colored clothing?

Why can’t you sublimate onto dark-colored garments? The solution is easy.

Because sublimation is a method of transferring ink onto various fabrics, it has a problem transferring to dark clothing. You can’t see it because it’s hidden!

There is no way to view your transfers while sublimating onto dark-colored clothing! That is why we usually wear light-colored clothing, most often white.

Sublimation Vs Screen Printing

While both printing processes have their advantages, there are a few essential considerations to consider when deciding whether dye Sublimation or screen printing is best:

Order Sizes

This is generally the first thing to think about. Of course, the larger the volume, the more cost-effective screen printing becomes. Because dye Sublimation takes a little longer, it is not the best option for larger orders. As a result, for smaller orders, Sublimation is likely to be a superior alternative. Most printers will also have a minimum order quantity for their screen printing services.

Job Preparation

One of the most important restrictions of screen printing is that only one color can be applied to the substrate at a time. There is also the issue of the alignment of the various color layers. As a result, screen printing setup periods might be lengthy when more than one color is involved.

Sublimation, on the other hand, eliminates the need to care about individual color alignment because this method prints all of the colors at once. This method makes it easier to alter designs because you simply need to change the article work and print off a fresh transfer for the changes to take effect.

Material Selection

This new technology may frequently either rule in or rule out a certain printing method, which is a game-changer for some. In terms of what you can print on, screen printing is the most versatile. It allows you to print on almost any sort of material in any place. Dye Sublimation, on the other hand, works well with white or light-colored polyester or polyester blend fabrics.

Sublimation is only suited for light (white) textiles due to the technique. Assume the polyester garment’s fibers are colorful or black: any gaseous dye that tries to mix with these materials will be polluted by the color of the fiber itself.

Of course, the darker the color of the fiber, the more serious the problem becomes. While sublimation in black on a yellow safety vest still works well, it is impossible to sublimate in yellow on a black vest.

How much does sublimation printing cost? 

Sublimation is a low-cost method, both in terms of starting and production, in addition to being simple. A suitable desktop inkjet printer and sublimation inks range in price from approximately $600 for an 8.5×14-inch image to about $1,600 for a 13×19-inch image. Heat presses of good quality cost between $1,000 and $1,500.

The cost of imaging is incredibly low, at less than $0.01 per square inch of coverage. An 8×10-inch full-color photograph, for example, would cost $0.56. A simple design would take around 40 seconds to print and 60 seconds to press, for a total production time of roughly two minutes. Sublimation is rapid and inexpensive, although it is not cheap by any means.

For less than a thousand dollars, you may get started with sublimation printing. All you’ll need is a printer, some ink, a heat press, and some ideas! Once you have those, you may immediately begin transferring!

Application of sublimation printing

Among the many advantages of sublimation printing, another benefit of sublimation is that it is the ideal on-demand, short-run process because it does not require the time-consuming setup that screen printing does. As a result, processing smaller orders, which generally have the largest per-piece margins, is rapid and cost-effective.

Mugs, mousepads, clipboards, and message boards (to mention a few examples) are excellent promotional goods that are simple to sublimate and sell

Plaques and trophies that were previously confined to single-color pictures and/or engraving may now be embellished with high-quality, full-color images thanks to sublimation.

Create on-demand, high-impact POP, tradeshow, or interior signage to help your customers promote time-sensitive items or pricing adjustments more successfully.

Murals: For kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, museums, restaurants, and workplaces, personalized ceramic, hardboard, or aluminum tiles are redefining home and business décor with unique and totally customizable graphics.

Diversification is the key to success in the ever-changing industry, especially when the economy isn’t increasing. Your consumers may be spending less money with you simply because they are spreading it out among several purchases of different items, but if you aren’t able to capitalize on it, you may be losing money on a regular basis.

How to get started with Sublimation Printing?

Now that you have geared up with all the necessary information about sublimation printing and if you are ready to begin, read on. In this section, we will walk you through the process with a step-by-step guide.

First, you will need the following: 

Printer with Sublimation Capability

You may either use a printer that is specific for sublimation or adapt an existing inkjet printer to work with sublimation.

Ink for Sublimation

Can’t really work with a pen but no ink yo! Finding the right quality ink is a must.

Sublimation Paper

 There are several types of sublimation paper available. We suggest that you look into the A-SUB brand! 

What do you need for the heat? Heat Press? Yes Of course! 

This will be the medium for transferring the design. Make certain that the heat press you choose meets the minimum size requirements for your designs and transfers.

Software for Design

You’re going to need something to make your transfers with! People commonly use photoshop, and it provides a plethora of material to help with the start. 

Other items you might need are heat-resistant gloves, heat-resistant tape or glue, and kraft paper to protect your workspace. However, to start, these are the bare minimums. It’s truly that simple.

Now the process!

How do we transfer our first print now that we have all of our supplies?

Begin by creating your design with your favorite photo-editing software. Photoshop, Corel Draw, or GIMP are my recommendations. Print to your sublimation printer with any ICC profile you want.

Turn on your heat-press machine and it will warm up once your print is ready. Set the heat press to the right temperature and time for the materials you’re working with. Most manufacturers will tell you what settings they recommend, but if they don’t, just Google your materials and you’ll discover the correct settings.

Layout your print on your material, and press it!

There you go! Your print is ready for the transfer to your materials. Do you have a sense of accomplishment? You ought to. Dye-sublimation is a simple and inexpensive technique to create personalized items. This is a simple procedure to start as a side business or to add to your present services.

Well, what else? Start your dye sublimation today!

Need any help? Leave us a comment. We would be happy to help you with your Sublimation process. 

For more details Contact us.

Happy creating! 

 

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