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How Do Sublimation Printers Work?

How Do Sublimation Printers Work?

Mar 10,2022
the working principle of sublimation printers

Sublimation printing is a printing process that uses a carrier material to transfer designs onto various materials, such as T-shirts or ceramic mugs. In order to achieve the purpose of sublimation printing, we need to use a special sublimation printer and sublimation ink to do it. Next, let’s understand the specific working principle of the following sublimation printing machine.

How the sublimation printing process works

The term sublimation describes a physical process in which solids pass directly into the gas phase without becoming liquid in between. This process plays an important role in the transfer of the desired motif. A transfer foil or transfer paper is first printed mirror-inverted, then placed on the desired material and heated up to 230 ℃ for 30 to 60 seconds by means of a thermal transfer press. At this temperature, the dyes sublimate and can easily penetrate and adhere to the fibers in their gaseous state. Since the colors are in the fabric after a successful transfer and not just glued on, you won't feel any residue.

Which printers are suitable as sublimation printers

Printers suitable for sublimation printing usually work with water-insoluble disperse dyes (i.e. viscous dyes). These are often also called sublimation printers or “subli” printers. Due to the consistency and temperature sensitivity of the ink, special sublimation printers are required. Regular inkjet printers can only be used with special water-based inks. However, changing between normal and special inks is not recommended due to contamination of the print heads and tubes with residues.

Which materials can be printed with sublimation

The ideal carrier material is polyester, i.e. fabric made of plastic fibers. For optimum printing with sublimation printers, the polyester content should be at least 80%.

If other materials such as cotton shirts, ceramic mugs, or metal plates are used, they must be coated with polyester–as the paint cannot penetrate sufficiently into these materials, the motif would be short-lived and natural materials such as cotton could burn at high temperatures.

Polyester, on the other hand, begins to melt at high temperatures, opening pores in the fabric into which the dye gas enters.  The ideal background color is white or light. Dyed polyester textiles can only be printed in black.

What are the possible areas of application for sublimation printers

There are almost no limits to the application as long as the material is made of or coated with polyester. T-shirts and workwear, for example, can be printed with a club logo or the company name; lanyards, pillows, and towels can be customized as gifts or for guests; also signs, mugs, cell phone covers or even snowboards can be personalized.

On the one hand, sublimation printing is an excellent way to embellish T-shirts with the desired motif for private purposes. On the other hand, printed textiles are also suitable as an extremely effective advertising medium. T-shirts offer a large area for company logos and sponsors, which provides high visibility.

Advantages of sublimation printers

With sublimation printing, any motif can easily, flexibly, and relatively cheaply be printed and transferred onto various materials, including complex photo motifs, for example. Sublimation printing is also characterized by its high precision, which enables the printing of detailed designs. In doing so, you can do without after-treatment or long waiting times after the transfer: The motif is ready immediately.

The fact that the ink is completely contained in the fabric of the substrate and not just applied to it results in a number of advantages: For one thing, you don't feel any of the applied colors, which can simply be rubbed off or become brittle. Nevertheless, the colors are intense and hardly fade. So, you can easily wash or rinse them without losing the color brilliance.

They are also resistant to UV radiation and harmful environmental influences. This makes sublimation printing also suitable for outdoor use–for example, for printing on flags. Furthermore, the ink does not seal the textile: features such as breathability are retained–ideal for sportswear and club jerseys. Sublimation printing is also a particularly environmentally friendly process, as no binding agents or solvents are required.

Fullcolor is specializing in the production and sales of inkjet printer consumables, we have rich experience in manufacturing and have received love and support from overseas customers. We are committed to providing you with efficient and high-quality products and solutions. In order to control the quality of products, we are equipped with a professional quality inspection system. We also have a complete sales mechanism, which can provide you with a one-stop shopping service in place. If you want to buy our sublimation printer, please contact us now!

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