Sublimation Printing Guide

Sublimation Printing: 15 Things You Need To Know




Sublimation Printing: 15 Things You Need To Know

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Sublimation printing is a growing business model among people all over the world. Specially post-pandemic, as people are trying to find new ways to help sustain their livelihood, many people are transforming their hobby into their profession. And if you are among them who want to try out their hand on this business, then here are 15 things you need to know about sublimation printing to get started.

1.   What Is Sublimation Printing?

Itt is almost the same as any normal printing the only difference here is that you use a special sublimation ink and print on a sublimation paper.

It is a method of printing designs on a paper using sublimation ink and then using heat-press, printing the design from the paper to any sublimate materials. In this type you printing, you try to embed your designs into the fabric making it permanent and vibrant.

2.   How Does Sublimation Printing Work?

The whole process of sublimation printing is very simple, you print your design and then transfer the design using a heat press machine.

This is a process of transfer of inks using heat. Here, after you print your design onto a sublimation paper, you use the heat press to transfer the ink using heat. So, as you heat, the ink turns into gas making it easy to embed with the fabric of the material you are using. So, using this working process the designs become permanent and fade-free.

3.   How To Do Sublimation Printing?

For a perfect process, you will have to design on a sublimation paper using sublimation ink. And then when you put the printed paper for transfer using heat in a heat press, the ink turns into a gas and embeds into the fabric permanently. After successful transfer of the ink, you will need to give some time to the fabric to settle down and get cooled. And thus your printing process is done.

However, you must make sure the placement of the paper and fabric is perfect as the print is permanent, you won’t be able to make any corrections later.

4.   How To Start A Sublimation Printing Business?

To start your sublimation printing process, you will need to have a suitable place that is spacious as sometimes this printing method becomes messy. Then you will have to get a suitable sublimation printer to make your orders get cleared smoothly. Along with a printer, you will need compatible sublimation papers and inks as normal paper and inks will not serve the sublimation process.

After purchasing these items, you will now need to purchase a heat press, any heat press will do the job. Once you get all of them settled at a place, you now need to purchase the materials like t-shirt, mugs, etc whichever product you want to sell. And print on them and start selling to your customers.

5.   Is Sublimation Printing Profitable?

This is a question that comes to every person’s mind before starting their Dye-sublimation printing business. And the straight answer to this question is yes it is possible.

As there are innumerable products with which you can start your sublimation business so there is a variety of scope for the business. You just need to find out the potential of a product in your marketplace and start with that product, you will surely end up with a profit. You must need to do a fruitful survey of your marketplace before starting this business.

6.   Do I Need A Special Printer For Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a lot different from the normal printing process, it is advised to use a special printer for carrying out commercial sublimation as the quality of prints will be superior with it.

However, you can also convert some old printers into a sublimation printer but the quality will suffer a bit in this process as you will need to do a lot of cleaning process and any drop of normal ink can ruin your full design easily.

7.   What Is The Best Printer For Sublimation Printing?

We can divide the sublimation printers into many categories based on their working and workload taking capacity. Hence, it is difficult to choose any one printer as the best sublimation printer.

However, for different categories, you can choose the best among them. Choose your best from this small list.

  • Epson Surecolor F170– Best Printer for Fabric Printing.
  • Epson Surecolor F570 – Best for Wide Format Printing
  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG800 – Best High-Resolution Printer.
  • Epson ET 15000 – Best Multi-Functional Printers.
  • Epson ET 2720 – Best Budget Printer.

And there are many others, you can do your research and choose the best as per your need.

8.   Is The Sublimation Printing Expensive?

There are two ways of looking at the investment and analyzing if it is more expensive, one by spending more initially and less on the maintenance and other expenses and secondly, purchasing cheap initially and then spending more on maintenance and other expenses.

Sublimation printing involves a high initial investment but low maintenance and ink cost. So, if you are looking to go with Dye-sublimation printing for a longer time, then initially investing high will not be much expensive for you in the upcoming future.

9.   How Much Does Sublimation Printer Cost?

It depends on the type of printer you need and the type of printing you are going to do using the printer. It is available both at a low price and high price.

If you are looking just for photo sublimation, then you can go for a cheap printer for about $150. But if you are looking for heavy sublimation printing and frequent usage, then you must go with a powerful printer that may cost you anywhere from $700 to $3000.

10. How Much Does Sublimation Inks Cost?

Sublimation inks depend on the ink you need and the one compatible with your printer. There are a variety of inks available in the market some are of a very low price and some are high priced.

If you are thinking to use a cheaper option, you can find one for about $10 to $25 but you must know that they spread a lot and might affect the final look of your design. And if you are looking for a branded ink like Epson ink or Sublijet UHD ink, you can find them for about $75 to $100.

11.  How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last?

Sublimation inks are meant to last long. You can easily expect any normal ink to last for at least 10 years. However, the company-made sublimation inks are finely made and can easily last more than 10 years. These Inks are permanent and are fade-resistant.

12.  Can Sublimation Be Done On Cotton?

The straight answer to this question is No. You should never sublimate on cotton fabric. Sublimation printing means embedding the inks into the fabric of the cloth but in the case of cotton sublimation, the ink forms a layer of design on the surface of the fabric making it easy to shred and fade away.

You can sublimate almost all other fabric and polymers except cotton. However, if you are using a mixed type of fabric like cotton and nylon or polyester, then you can use a sublimation process on it but the result might not be as your expectations.

13.   What Materials Can Be Sublimated?

The best fabric for Dye-sublimation is Polyester fabric. As in the polyester, the sublimation inks get easily embedded into the fabric hence it makes the print permanent in nature.

You can also use other fabrics made of certain polymers but you should never use cotton for this printing process as it gives dreadful results.

14.  Can You Sublimate With Inkjet Printer?

Yes, you can use an inkjet printer like Epson for the sublimation process but it is subject to the compatibility of the fabric to the printer and the print head to the sublimation ink used.

If you have a normal inkjet printer and you intend to use it for sublimation printing, the results might not be as fascinating as an inkjet printer specially made for the printing process. But for your regular day-to-day use, it will easily do the job for you.

15.  Difference Between Sublimation And Heat Transfer?

The process of sublimation printing and heat transfer are almost the same, the only difference they have is the way of embedding the ink into the fabric.

In sublimation printing, the ink is embedded into the fabric making it permanent whereas, in heat press printing, a layer of the design is added onto the fabric making it prone to fading.


On the concluding note, we would like to encourage you to take your first step towards transforming your hobby into your next business model. Even though the initial investment into the sublimation printing process is high but there is a high scope of making a huge margin of profit in this industry. And gaining enough knowledge about sublimation printing will enhance your experience a lot. All The Best!!!

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