A detailed overview of the technology and image transfer process

We are starting a series of articles describing the technologies used to produce advertising and souvenir products. In this article, we will fully describe the technology of dye sublimation printing services, and tell you about the pros and cons of this technology.

General information about the technology

Sublimation refers to the direct passage from the solid state of aggregation to the gaseous state of a material. This process occurs when materials are heated above 100 0 C.

Non-direct sublimation printing technology is a method of applying an image in two stages. The image is printed on an intermediate carrier (sublimation paper) with subsequent thermal transfer to the item to be decorated. In which particles of a coloring substance applied to paper are instantly heated (in this case using a thermoelement of the press) and mixed, when they pass into a gas state, penetrating deeply into the structure of the printed material. This technology allows you to apply photographic quality images to any surface coated with sublimation varnish or to fabrics made of synthetic materials that contain polyester.

A detailed overview of Sublimation transfer of an image to a workpiece

For sublimation transfer you will need the following equipment and materials: heat press, inkjet printer with a continuous ink supply system, sublimation ink, sublimation paper, heat-resistant adhesive tape (adhesive tape), sublimation blank.

1. Print the image and select intermediate media.

The image must be printed in a mirror (!!!) image (except for glass photo frames) on special sublimation paper. Sublimation paper absorbs ink poorly, so up to 95% of all ink is transferred to the workpiece. But sublimation paper has one drawback: the image on such paper can be smeared when touched with your hands. For this reason, we have selected a material that is similar in properties, but more convenient to use; it is matte photo paper “ Lomond ” for inkjet printing, with a density of 90-120 g/ m2.

2. Attaching the print to the workpiece.

We apply the printed paper to the product to be decorated so that the image is on the side of the workpiece and fix it with heat-resistant tape.

Heat-resistant tape can withstand high temperatures without losing its adhesiveness and leaving no adhesive marks on the product. Necessary for reliable fixation of sublimation paper on the workpiece, thereby preventing ghosting or blurring of the image that occurs when the print is displaced. We know of cases where, in an attempt to save money, manufacturers of souvenir products use self-adhesive stickers or masking tape. However, such stickers are messy to remove or leave behind adhesive residue after thermal printing.

3. Image transfer using a thermal press.

On the thermopress controller, you must set the desired temperature and holding time. Then we adjust the uniform pressing of the thermoelements of the press directly with the workpiece. We warm up the heat press to the set temperature and hold for 20 minutes to achieve a more uniform heating of the plate. The workpiece is clamped and left in a heat press for a predetermined amount of time.

At this moment, the sublimation process itself takes place, so it is very important to follow the technological recommendations (temperature and time parameters) for working with materials and blanks for sublimation printing!

For information about the pressing force, time and temperature conditions, it is better to check with the sellers of blanks for sublimation.

4. We receive the finished product.

After the end of the specified time, open the heat press and take out the finished product, while you must immediately remove the sublimation paper from the workpiece. As we said at the beginning of the article, the sublimation process occurs when the print is heated and pressed against the workpiece, therefore, after the product is removed, this process continues, although not so intensively. Images may become distorted or indistinct as a consequence of this.

Pros and cons of sublimation printing

The main advantage of sublimation printing is the ability to transfer full-color images of photographic quality. The following are more benefits of this technology:

  • sublimation varnish allows for printing on a wide variety of substrates, including stone, ceramics, glass, metal, and textiles. Polyester fabric is used for printing on fabrics;
  • durability of the printed copy under adverse conditions

Disadvantages of sublimation printing technology:

  • Possibility of printing only on blanks with sublimation coating;
  • Possibility of printing only on polyester fabrics;
  • Only white blanks allow for accurate color reproduction.

Blanks, supplies, and machinery for applying sublimation technology in the creation of promotional and souvenir items are all available in our web shop.

It is very important for us that you are always confident in the quality of the goods, equipment and technologies purchased from us. For this reason, our specialists constantly monitor the quality of products that arrive at our warehouse.

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