Eco-solvent Vs. Sublimation printing: Which One is Better?

  • By: Printysublimation
  • Date: June 14, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

The printing business, whether on small scale or industrial levels, is a progressively well-developed industry with a multitude of options for associated clients. As such, there are a variety of printing equipment, materials and techniques in the contemporary market. Some of the most recommended and popularly utilized printing types include eco-solvent and sublimation printing.

1. What is Eco-solvent printing?

Eco-solvent printing is a printing process that uses environmentally friendly solvents. The solvents are not only safe but they also have low environmental impact. This method of printing offers many benefits over traditional printing methods, such as lower emissions and reduced waste.

This is a digital printing technique that uses special mild biodegradable solvents on a variety of material surfaces for a quality print outcome. These biodegradable solvents have only been in the market since their introduction in the early 2000s. They have since grown popular by massively penetrating the digital printing market due to numerous factors like cost, product quality, and versatile applications in business and home projects.

2. What is Sublimation printing?

This is another popular printing method utilized globally in versatile applications. The process transfers the print design from sublimation paper onto a suitable material substrate, preferably fabric, utilizing special sublimation ink, intense pressure, and heat. This printing method is also often easy to learn and cost-effective thus attracting vast utilization.

3. Differences between Eco-solvent and Sublimation printing:

Differences between Eco-solvent and Sublimation printing

Despite the overall expected outcome of quality print products, there are several differences between the two types of printing. Nevertheless, the major ones usually revolve around the types of ink used and their applications. For instance,

• Eco-solvent printing utilizes eco-solvent inks while sublimation printing utilizes sublimation ink
• Eco-solvent printing is often used for industrial applications like signage and graphic printing whereas sublimation printing is mostly used on fabric and clothes applications.
Other differences include;

• Eco-solvent printing often requires much larger printing machines consuming more power due to the high heat demand for drying the wet ink compared to sublimation printing requirements.
• Eco-solvent printing takes much time to be ready as the ink dries compared to sublimation printing which can take a day to produce an order.

4. Eco-solvent ink vs sublimation ink:

Eco-solvent inks are printing inks with their colors suspended in less aggressive biodegradable solvents whereas sublimation inks are usually suspended in oil-based or aqueous solvents. As such, as the name suggests, eco-solvent inks are usually excellent when it comes to minimizing overall negative environmental impacts since they are always eco-friendly. This usually comes with numerous other benefits to individuals using the eco-solvent inks. These include;

• Little to no waste production as the utilized solvents often completely evaporate.
• Limited volatile organic compounds thus safer and healthier for use.
• Lack of smell and thus can be safely utilized indoors
The only downside is that the eco-solvent ink often requires more time to properly dry on the printed product. This often delays production as only a few projects can be done at a time.

Subsequently, sublimation inks, on the other hand, change state directly from solid to gas during printing. Therefore, as the applied heat opens the fabric pores, the ink sublimes and gets embedded within the fabric before applying pressure to cool the ink down to solid. This often ensures that the colors utilized for printing remain vibrant for long periods. Some benefits associated with sublimation inks entail the fact that the results;

• Provide seamless prints unnoticeable to touch.
• Provide a print surface that can’t be easily scratched.
• Long-lasting color vibrancy
• Easy and fast
The major downside is only that the print substrates most compatible with sublimation ink usually require a great percentage of polyester fabric or coating to yield good results.

5. Which type of printing among the two is considered best by most?

Both the eco-solvent and sublimation printing offer great benefits to users while also eliciting some obvious downsides. However, choosing the best among the two could rely on a number of factors such as what you need to print, time frame, and size. For instance, industrial printing would call for eco-solvent while small-scale/fabric printing is suitable with sublimation printing. Subsequently, a fast print product should consider sublimation printing as eco-solvent often take a little more time. I however recommend sublimation printing as it is the most cost-effective thus affordable to most and also suitable for most average individual needs since operating eco-solvent on small printings could be costly.

6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is eco-solvent ink flammable?

No. The solution is not flammable. The mild biodegradable solvent has more environmentally compatible chemical compositions implying limited to no volatile organic compounds which are usually flammable in nature.

What materials can be sublimated?

Despite sublimation printing offering top-notch and expert-level prints, there are usually limitations that must be addressed to guarantee quality. As such, most recommended for use with sublimation include polyester or any polyester-coated material. These further limits its applicability to specific sectors like fabric unlike other printing processes with versatile applications.

What is the best printing method?

Since there are numerous printing methods with varying applications and purposes, finding the best printing method could solely rely on your needs as a client and the best printing that would guarantee quality but at an affordable price. As such, sublimations could be better for others just as eco-solvent could also be appropriate for specific individuals. Therefore, always choose wisely.

7. Conclusion:

Printing options have never been diverse in human history with each type offering specific benefits to special groups of people. Some of the most common printing types discussed in this article include eco-solvent and sublimation printing. They all come with varying benefits and disadvantages as extensively discussed above. As such, you should thoroughly go through the article’s content to learn more about these types of printing and which one would be most appropriate for you.

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