Can You Print Photos With Sublimation Ink? 7 Easy Steps

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Fredrick Miller

Sublimation ink printing is a technique used to produce fine art canvas prints, posters and artwork by transferring the heat of an underlying substrate such as wood or aluminium and transferring it to a special film containing dyes.

The use of this technology in photo printing is often called dye sublimation, even though the process can involve heat transfer of other types of inks via heat.

If you’ve ever wondered whether can you print photos with sublimation ink, then this article is for you! Yes! There is no doubt about it! Sublimation ink can be used to print photos. However, it takes careful planning and execution to ensure the photo has a vibrant color and remains intact under pressure.

Is Sublimation Ink Permanent?

Sublimation ink is a water-based dye that is used in sublimation printing. It’s also known as permanent ink or pigment ink. This type of ink is commonly used in the printing industry because it’s non-toxic, odorless and non-flammable.

The permanence of sublimation ink also depends on the type of paper being used. For example, if you use glossy paper to print your design, it will be permanent once it has dried out completely. However, if you use matte paper, your design may fade over time due to exposure to air and light unless it has been heat-sealed.

Can You Print Photos With Sublimation Ink?

photo printer

The answer is yes. You can print photos with sublimation ink. But it takes a little more work.
With a sublimation printer, you are able to print directly on fabric or paper using special ink. They’re ideal for creating custom t-shirts, banners, and signs.

It is important to note that photo printers also use the same technology, but with one big difference:

Sublimation printers use special paper that can be printed on just one side. The regular paper must have ink applied to both sides for the image to show clearly enough for viewing or printing.

This means that sublimation printers are not well suited for printing photos because they require two passes through the printer: one pass to apply black ink and another pass to apply color over top of it. The second pass requires high-quality ink cartridges, which are expensive and difficult to find at retail stores.

Things to Consider Before Printing Photos With Sublimation Ink

The first step in printing photos with sublimation ink is to make sure you have the right materials. The following things should be considered before you begin:

  • It is important to consider the type of paper you use when creating your final product. For example, the glossy paper will produce a different look than matte paper.
  • Your printer needs to be able to handle the type of paper you choose. If it can’t, it might not print correctly or even at all.
  • If your photo contains text, you’ll want to ensure there’s enough room on the page so that everything fits as intended when printed.
  • If you’re printing photos with sublimation ink at home, be sure to use an inkjet printer that uses dye-based ink rather than pigment-based ink, which can cause issues with the sublimation process.

How to Print Photos With Sublimation Ink?

The process of sublimation involves the transfer of an image from an ink-coated surface to a substrate. The following steps will guide you through the process:

Step 1:

The first step is to prepare your photo. The ink color you use depends on whether the photo has a white background. If the photo has a colored background, you should choose an ink color that matches the background color of the picture.

Step 2:

Ensure your image is in a high-resolution format (300 dpi). If it’s not, then you’ll need to convert it before using it with sublimation paper.

Step 3:

Cut out your image and lay it on top of the sublimation paper so that there is about a 1/4-inch margin around all sides of your cutout image.

Step 4:

Place the sublimation paper on top of a heat press, making sure that there’s no air between the two layers.

Step 5:

Set your heat press to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 175 degrees Celsius) and wait for about 5 minutes.

Step 6:

Peel off the sublimation paper, and your image should appear on it. If it doesn’t, then place the sublimation paper back on top of the heat press for another 5 minutes.

Step 7:

The final step is to place the sublimation paper in a dryer for about 30 minutes. This will ensure that your image doesn’t smudge and will be perfectly clear after you take it out of the dryer.

FAQs Section

Can you print regular pictures with sublimation ink?

Yes, you can print any image on your sublimation printer. However, if you want a photo to look like an original photo, it must be in the correct format and resolution.

Do I need a special printer for sublimation?

Yes, you will need a special printer for sublimation if you want to print on fabrics and other substrates that are not paper-based. However, there are printers available that can do both types of printing without any problem at all.

Is sublimation ink the same as inkjet?

No, it is not the same as inkjet because the sublimation printer is heat sensitive while the inkjet is not. In order for an image to be visible on fabric or any other surface, sublimation ink needs to be exposed to heat before it can take form on the substrate. Inkjet printers do not use heat-sensitive inks, so they cannot be used for sublimation printing purposes.

Does sublimation work with photos?

Yes, but only if they’re printed correctly! Photos must be printed at 300 dpi resolution (dots per inch), which is more than enough for most photos you’d like to print on fabric or paper.

Final Words

Ultimately, the versatility of sublimation makes it possible for you to print on a wide variety of items. In the end, sublimation is a great way to produce durable and bright imagery on textile material. Just make sure that you do your research before heading into this type of printing, as it’s not right for every job.

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