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A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Sublimation Printing Work

Sublimation printing is one of the most popular high-tech printing techniques in the print-on-demand industry. You’re trying to sell print on demand apparel, or you’re having problems with quality control. Today we’ll take into consideration all over sublimation printings – what it is, how it works, pros and cons as well as some best-selling sublimation products.

What is sublimation printing?

custom all over print ceramic mug
You’re overwhelmed with the complex definition of this strange-looking word “sublimation” – just take it easy. In simple terms, sublimation printing is the digital printing on fabric that is widely used in all over print clothing. It is the chemical process of transferring the artwork onto solid materials and fabrics by using ink and heat of sublimation. One of the most intriguing aspects of sublimation printing is the ability to skip the traditional liquid stage. It enables you to go seam-to-seam for the whole garment with high resolution, rich colour graphics, and high fastness.

Pros of sublimation printing

sublimation printing
  • Easy to personalize

You’re overwhelmed with the complex definition of this strange-looking word “sublimation” – just take it easy. In simple terms, sublimation printing is the digital printing on fabric that is widely used in all over print clothing. It is the chemical process of transferring the artwork onto solid materials and fabrics by using ink and heat of sublimation.

One of the most intriguing aspects of sublimation printing is the ability to skip the traditional liquid stage. It enables you to go seam-to-seam for the whole garment with high resolution, rich colour graphics, and high fastness.

  • No cracking, peeling and fading

Sublimation printing has a significant advantage in terms of design lifetime. The remarkable transformation of the production process allows sublimation dye to integrate into the surface of your various materials. Scratching, cracking, peeling, or fading, without a doubt, cannot occur after several washing times.

  • Easy learning curve 

What’s more, the learning curve is exceptionally quick and simple. Sublimation printing offers a fast learning process. You can simply produce a big number of orders within the same day. 

  • No minimum orders

Sublimation printing can be applied to both small amounts of orders and bulk ones. As a result, it has become a preferred option for newer-generation business owners. Setting a minimum print run is unnecessary. Whether you print one or 1000 pieces of a product, the pricing stays the same.

Cons of sublimation printing

  • Only use bright colours when printing

Because sublimation uses a CMYK colour system, no combination of any base colour ink can produce the colour white. You can print on lighter-coloured or ideally white fabrics, but sublimation will not work if any of your patterns contain white. As a result, you should only use this printing process on light-coloured print parts to get the most vivid colours. 

  • Not compatible with all materials

Although it is available in hard materials, not all fabrics are appropriate for sublimation. This type of all-over sublimation printing is only recommended for garments made of 100 per cent polyester or at least 50 per cent polyester. On the other hand, although the fact that sublimation printing is suitable for cotton fabric, the color fastness cannot be guaranteed for an extended period of time. 

  • White ceasing

Another issue you may encounter is white ceasing while using sublimation printing. Several areas remain unreached and unable to be sublimated. Other possible causes include unexpected folding or moisture accumulation on the transfer paper. It causes white streaks, which detracts from a loss of aesthetics to the product. 

  • Ghosting

Ghosting is seen when the transfer paper is moved during the pressing process. It can cause a light fade or blur when you don’t apply enough pressure or sublimation ink isn’t completely dry. To resolve this issue, you must maintain the right degree of pressure while also allowing the ink to dry before applying it to the fabric. 

*, Note: To save your time and effort, you should test out some artworks before applying them in bulk. This will help you save both time and money. It is preferable to begin with basic designs rather than an all-over pattern that covers the entire fabric.

Why is sublimation printing better?

Is it actually “a luxury” to get started making money with sublimation printing? Sublimation all over printing becomes one of the most cost-effective methods of making customized products due to its low initial investment. With a budget of $500 to $4000, you may totally recoup your investment as few as 2 or 3 projects. If you have no time and resources to put into sublimation printers, a print-on-demand provider will handle it for you. 

Aside from sublimation printing, there are several alternatives available like screen printing and DTG (direct-to-garment). Screen printing, with its quick printing speed and simple patterns, has the potential to be more efficient. However, due to the long setup time, screen printing is typically employed to print products in bulk orders. Otherwise, direct-to-garment works best on high-quality 100% cotton tees and can be changed based on the quality of fabric. 

In most cases, sublimation printing is a good choice with on-off shirts, polyester garments, and hard materials. With its full-colour printing and seam-to-seam designs, it is simple to create eye-catching products in a variety of maker spaces. 

>>> Contact Merchize if you’re looking for professional print on demand and fulfilment services! 

How does it work?

So, how exactly does the all over dye sublimation printing work? Let’s lose your fear and dive into the step-by-step process of this appealing clothing printing method.

Step 1: Drafting the sublimation designs 

To begin, you must prepare the sublimated graphics and symmetrical layout for each individual piece of your garment including front, back, arms, and cuffs. This file will be printed onto the transfer paper. 

Step 2: Printing the design onto transfer paper with sublimation inks through the sublimation printing process

Your designs will be printed onto sublimation transfer paper by using specialized sublimation inks. Under the pressure of the intense heat (between 350 and 420 degrees Fahrenheit), solidified inks (in the cartridge) convert into gas. At the same time, the pores enlarge, allowing gas to readily penetrate the fabric.

After that, when the heat is removed, the ink cools down and swiftly returns to its solid stage without any liquid stage. As a result, rather than being a top layer of the cloth, sublimation inks embed permanently into it.

Step 3: Cutting and sewing the individual pieces of sublimate prints

After printing, you will get the long bolt of dyed cloth with a high definition print based on your design specifications. You complete the final clothes by simply cutting and stitching them together. Just cutting and sewing together, you finish the final garments. 

Which types of materials can be used for sublimating?

Relevant materials of sublimation printing are man-made polymers such as polyester and PVC. Hard materials, such as polyester-coated aluminium sheets, ceramic tiles, or soft materials, such as polycotton fabrics, can provide the optimum sublimating conditions. As a result, this approach is ideal for 100% polyester, polymer-coated, or polymer-blend materials with a high poly content, such as t-shirts, hoodies, and hard souvenirs such as a ceramic coffee mug, Christmas ornament, and canvas.

Which designs can you use for sublimating?

Temperature, humidity, printer settings, and colour system all have an influence on all goods, resulting in a few colour variations. Essentially, the sublimation process produces long-lasting colours, vibrant patterns, and eye-catching effects. Remember that CMYK colour must be used on light-coloured print areas to get the best results.

*, Note: Here are two methods for checking and converting the colour scheme in your file design:

  • Option 1: Open your image in Adobe Photoshop. Select “Image” from the Main Menu, continue to press “Mode” -> “CMYK Color”
  • Option 2: Select “Edit” from the Main Menu, then “Convert to File”. There are several options under the Profile area to meet your printing requirements. Select “Working CMYK – U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2” to change the colour system from RGB to CMYK. Your design file has been changed to the CMYK colour system.

> See more details about the comparison between RGB & CMYK. 

Top sublimation printing products for growing your sales

With over 150 print on demand products, you can easily seek out the potential products from Merchize’s product collection to enhance your sales. 

Sublimation apparel

all over print t-shirt

Typically, individuals begin with sublimation clothing printing for their eCommerce store because they are very popular items in daily life, such as all over print t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and so on. 

Here is a list of best-selling all over print products in Merchize for every need: 

Other sublimation products

all over print mug

Aside from sublimation clothing, there is a diverse selection of sublimation products available in various print on demand categories including home & lifestyle, accessories, and so on. These products are ideal for increasing your sales as personalized gifts on special occasions such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and so on.

> Wanna discover more print on demand products, see our detailed catalogue

You don’t have enough money to do your own t-shirt printing at home? Don’t worry! Another option is to look for print on demand providers that can help you with the production process.

Merchize is one of the print on demand companies that offers a full suite solution for print on demand.

  • Integrate with many marketplaces and platforms: Our platform allows users to handle their orders from multiple marketplaces and platforms such as Esty, WooCommerce, eBay, Amazon, and so on. Orders are automatically fulfilled and synchronized back to these marketplaces or platforms.
  • +150 print on demand products: Aside from sublimation products, our catalogue has a plethora of popular print on demand items. Having an in-house manufacturing facility enables us to upgrade our service and product’s quality to meet the high standard of our enterprise customers.

> Create your first store on Merchize now! 

Create Your First Store with Merchize Now!

Now that you get a little bit more about this sublime printing technique, it’s time to get started. Let’s set up your store on Merchize and start making awesome designs for your own sublimation products.    

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to share with Merchize to get immediate support.

Author admin
I'm a Content Specialist at Merchize. I love reading and writing about print on demand, designing and online business.