What is dye sublimation?
Dye sublimation is a very unique process of creating full color graphics. First, images are printed onto transfer paper. The transfer paper is then placed on the item you’re decorating. The heat allows the dried inks on the transfer paper to turn from a solid form into gas and absorb into the polyester coated blanks or fabrics. When heated, the polyester bond with the inks, which creates an image that is part of the garment and not raised up on the garment! With dye sublimation, you can print bright full color graphics! Let's discuss the advantages of dye sublimation, what is required to start, and why we recommend Sawgrass for dye sublimation printing.
What are some of the advantages of using dye sublimation over heat transfer vinyl?
- No weeding / cutting required. The process of dye sublimation is very simple! You print your design onto paper, place the paper on your blank using thermal tape, then either place the blank in the dye sublimation oven or use a heat press!
- No dimensional effect. With dye sublimation the design doesn't stand out off the garment, but is embedded in the fabric unlike vinyl, which can sometimes feel heavy on a shirt.
- Dye sublimation produces full color transfers that are very detailed without requiring layering or inlaying vinyl. You can achieve a great, vibrant transfer with only one press!
- Transfers produced with dye sublimation last the life of the garment so you don't have to worry about cracking, peeling, or fading!
- Once you pay the startup costs for dye sublimation, the process is super inexpensive. Dye sublimation paper is affordable and the inks last for MANY prints. The dye sublimation inks cost roughly 1 cent per square inch of printed design.
- With dye sublimation, there is so much versatility of products: shirts, cups, puzzles, key chains, license plates, coasters, earrings, socks, underwear, dog tank tops, etc. Most polyester shirts, and polyester coated blanks will work with dye sublimation!
What is required to start with Dye Sublimation?
To start with dye sublimation, you will need a dye sublimation printer, dye sublimation paper, and thermal tape. Along with that, you will need a heat press. If you are going to be doing dye sublimation on flat substrates, a regular clamshell will work, but if you are planning on making mugs or drinkware with dye sublimation, you will need either a mug press or a dye sublimation oven. Some people also like using our dye sublimation tack spray when pressing!
Why is Sawgrass the best dye sublimation printer option?
When we talk about dye sublimation printers, we ALWAYS recommend Sawgrass. Why? Sawgrass is the only printer on the market that is built from the ground up for dye sublimation. Other printers may be able to convert to a sublimation printer, but those tend to clog because they aren’t meant for the larger ink platelets of dye sublimation. Also, the Sawgrass system is completely airtight so there is no mess or fuss for changing the ink, and no worries about getting air in the lines that could happen when converting a NON dye sublimation printer. Another reason we recommend Sawgrass is because they offer a 2 year manufacturer warranty and great customer service.
If you recently purchased a Sawgrass printer, or are considering getting one and starting with dye sublimation, make sure you sign up for the 1 hour course to speak with an expert about setting up your printer! You can schedule that at this link.
For more information on the dye sublimation process and what is required for starting, visit our blog What is Dye Sublimation.
Here are some great video resources for more information about dye sublimation and how to sublimate different blanks: