How to Use a Sublimation Printer- 2024 Guide

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Fredrick Miller

The question commonly searched on internet is How to use a sublimation printer? Most people, especially those who are new to operating a printer, don’t know the exact usage of a sublimation printer. Don’t worry; in this post, we provided a complete guide on using a sublimation printer.

However, firstly you should know what is sublimation printing?

What Is Sublimation Printing?

Before delving deep, first, knows what sublimation printing is? Using heat and pressure, imprinting the design from sublimation paper to material or fabric such as t-shirt, mug, phone case, bag, and other things is called sublimation printing. 

Design is made using different software like Photoshop and then printed with specialized sublimation ink onto a paper. High temperature in sublimation printing creates a continuous design from seam to seam.

Heat transfers are full-color and long-lasting. There is also no splitting or tearing of sublimation prints, which can occur when iron-on vinyl is applied to clothes with heat exchange vinyl. There is no thickness in the design because sublimation ink absorbs the material. 

Ink absorbing is the main difference between sublimation printing and screen printing. Paint will be applied to shirt rather than embedded in screen printing.

Sublimation printing is a simple and cost-effective technique to add customization to items used by businesses and individuals by converting the solid particles of ink into a gaseous form.

Sublimation printing’s sales have grown in recent years because of its high-quality result. However, it would help if you first focused on creating the designs before you can do it independently.

The procedure might result in designs with white folds or blurry patterns if done poorly. You may waste both energy/cost as a result of this. Before doing it in mass, I tried out a few designs to become more technically proficient and how the designs will look on fabric.

Instead of a plan that spans entire material, start with a simple design. You can start practicing with more detailed projects once you’ve become used to it.

how does sublimation printing work

How to Use a Sublimation Printer?

Now the question is, how does a sublimation printer work? First, draw the design using different software like Photoshop, canvas, and circuit design space. Then, use a sublimation printer to print it on the chemically coated paper using different sublimation ink. 

Apply this design from sublimation paper to fabric using heat or pressure and put it into the oven. Heat from the press or the range opens the pores in the material, while the force applied to the fabric cools the ink and solidifies it. The paper can then be gently removed from the shirt or mug after removing the press.

For the video tutorial, visit this.

Why Is Sublimation Printing Best?

Aside from sublimation printing, there are also other methods of transferring the designs onto different materials like screen printing, garment printing, transfers vinyl, and others. Then why is sublimation best?

On the other hand, sublimation printing provides a unique combination of cost, clarity, and time efficiency for a designer, making it an appealing option. Allow me to explain.

Sublimation Printing Cost

Many other techniques of transferring can be too expensive to begin with. Imagine garment printing as an example. First, you’ll need to engage in a big DTG printer to start direct-to-garment printing. These printers can cost a lot of money, and they can be costly to maintain and operate.

If we consider screen printing, it necessitates many open areas for air and processing. Further screen-printer comes with various screens, and they require regular cleaning, and all areas should be dry before use. 

Other methods like screen printing or garment printing can be extremely expensive.

It is where sublimation printing excels! And in 100 dollars, you may get started with sublimation printing. Your printer, ink, heat press, and designs are all you’ll need! When you have those, you may immediately begin transferring!

Sublimation Printer Quality

Sublimation printing provides a distinct quality service compared to other printing technologies.

When you first begin working with screen printing, you’ll rapidly encounter various screen printing constraints. Many screen printers, for instance, will have a limitation on the number of colors and intricacy of their formattings. Because each color must pass through a screen, anything with more than six colors might be a major difficulty for a screen printer!

These conditions have no concern with sublimation printing. Sublimation printing involves transferring digitally developed images from chemically coated paper to the material of your choice. The only constraint here is the clarity of your printer’s prints. You can easily print high-quality, high-fidelity photos straight onto your selected material with sublimation printing!

A sublimation designer has no trouble with faces, places, photographs, etc.!

Sublimation Printer Time Saving

You might find that sublimation is quicker or even more accurate than other transfer processes!

Sublimation printing is the ideal compromise between cost and time when it engages in the manufacture. Screen printing may be able to produce many t-shirts per hour, but it will be much more expensive! Direct to garment printing may be less costly for a one-off t-shirt, but it will take longer to set up!

However, you may produce orders in small to medium quantities without breaking the bank with sublimation. It indicates that sublimation is ideal for someone who wants to manage small to medium-sized projects without running up a significant expenditure.

What Do I Require To Begin Sublimation?

To begin the sublimation printing, a few things are needed. The first one is the sublimation printer that supports the sublimation printer and accepts the sublimation ink. 

It would help if you bought a heat press to transfer the design to the material. Purchase a mug clamp or press on a ceramic mug if you wish to print. It’s crucial to consider the material you want for sublimation printing because not all substances are suitable. You’ll also need sublimation paper and RIP software to assist with color calibration.

What Materials Am I Able To Sublimate?

If you want to start your printing business or start sublimation printing at home, you’ll need to learn what type of materials you can use. 

  • Ceramic
  • Polyester
  • Polymer-coated plastic
  • Polymer-coated metal
  • Polycotton textile
  • Polymer
  • PVC
  • Polyester-made fabric
  • Polyester-coated aluminum

Polyester and ceramic are the best sublimation materials among the materials listed above. Traditional printing creates only one logo on garments, while sublimation printing helps print many patterns and symbols. 

There are a few designs that sublimation printers cannot support. Designs with block colors and designs that have to be spread all over the garment illustrate this. It is mainly due to the risk of ‘ghosting’ and color mismatch and white streaks. 

The question is there any material that sublimation cannot handle? Don’t try to print on 100 percent cotton or other natural fibers. They lack the pores essential for the ink to be immersed. If you’re working with these kinds of materials, digital printing might be a better option.

What Is Sublimation Heat Press?

There is a variety of heat presses available, ranging from budget-friendly models to heat presses designed for professional use. Of course, the size of the heat press you buy will be determined by your needs.

The Super Deal Pro 5 is the best to pick if you’re searching for something to handle various tasks. If you want to print just t-shirts, the Promo Heat Swing-Away Sublimation Heat Transfer Press is best.

Before purchasing the sublimation heat presses, it’s crucial to check reviews online. You probably don’t have to have one with all the bells and whistles that its more expensive version offers if you’re doing it yourself.

As a result, engaging in multifunctional and lightweight ones maybe your best option. As previously stated, the sublimation heat press will be the most expensive equipment you purchase. However, without it, you won’t be able to properly print the pattern onto your items because a heat press provides pressure and heat.

Best Sublimation Designing Software

When it comes to choosing design software for your sublimation adventure, you have a lot of possibilities. But which is the most suitable alternative for you?

You get a complimentary design software system called CreativeStudio when you get a Sawgrass Virtuoso printer. The SG500 and SG1000 are the most used Sawgrass printers. The finest design program we’ve seen is CreativeStudio, but you’ll need a Sawgrass printer to use it.

Your individual needs determine the ideal software for you. Most individuals should use Photoshop, in my opinion. However, you might not be keen on Adobe Suite’s monthly subscription fee. Other options exist, the most known of which being GIMP.

Finally, you’ll need software that lets you alter the color characteristics of your prints while also allowing you to create as you want. If you would like to learn further about our chosen sublimation design program, we offer some tools for you. I strongly advise you to look into it to determine the best design software for you.

Corel Draw

The Corel Draw Graphics Suite is an excellent design program that you can purchase once and have forever. No automatic payments! You should seriously consider it if this seems better to you than a monthly membership that will never expire. The software is fantastic, as is the long-term price.

Best Sublimation Printers:

Here is a list of the best sublimation printer 

  • Epson EcoTank ET-15000
  • Epson SureColor F570 Desktop Sublimation Printer
  • Epson ET 4760
  •  Epson WorkForce WF-7710
  • Epson EcoTank ET-2720
  • Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550

Pros And Cons Of Sublimation Printing

On the one side, sublimation printing is a wonderful approach to personalize T-shirts by adding the desired pattern. Printed textiles can be an incredibly successful promotion medium.

T-shirts provide a huge space for brand logos and sponsors to be seen, making them more visible. Imprinted clothing, for instance, draws the eye far more quickly than a key fob or a marker pen. 

Textiles can call many people simultaneously because, unlike billboards, people are moving and coming into contact with multiple individuals. The T-shirt will be tattered often and provide significant value to the recipient if you utilize high-quality materials.

Pros of Sublimation Printer

Sublimation printing allows any pattern to be created and transferred onto multiple materials quickly, conveniently, and affordably, including complicated photo motifs. Sublimation printing is also known for its extreme precision, allowing for the printing of intricate designs. You can avoid post-treatments and extensive wait times after the transfer: the design is ready right away.

The reality that the ink is incorporated into the substrate’s fabric rather than only applied to it has various benefits: For starters, you won’t feel any of the injected colors, which can easily rub off or become stiff. Nonetheless, the colors are vibrant and do not fade easily. As a result, you can wash or clean them without losing their deep color. 

They’re also resistant to UV rays and other potentially hazardous environmental factors. As a result, sublimation printing is also best for outdoor jobs, such as flags printing. Moreover, the ink does not bind the cloth, allowing for properties like breathability – excellent for sportswear and club clothing.

Cons of Sublimation Printer

Sublimation printing demands special sublimation inks and printers. As a result, the upfront costs are higher compared to alternative ways. Furthermore, the printers are slow.

Other substances can only be used to a limited degree instead of rayon. They must be coating-able, which isn’t always the case. Furthermore, white cannot be printed. A white backdrop is required if the motif has white or light colors. In addition, while using sublimation, you must allow for a minor shrinking of 1 to 4 percent.

Printing using white toner or white toner printers can be used as a replacement for sublimation printing. Toner transfer involves transferring patterns to a transfer sheet (A-foil), which is subsequently joined to B-paper on a transfer press. The heat-activated bond on the B-paper interacts with the image on the A-foil. The pattern can be transferred to any cloth after removing the A-foil and B-paper. 

Unlike sublimation, the substance used does not matter. Textiles such as cotton, polyester, blended fabrics, felt, and other materials such as silk, wood, and cardboard can be printed. It is also easy to print on darker and colored substrates using white toner.

Final Words- How to Use Sublimation Printer

Individuals wishing to print full-color, high-quality graphics on clothes and other fabrics should consider sublimation printing. Because there is a very little interruption, each creation is valuable (if sold to clients) and allows you to produce far more than you like. Hopefully, now you understand enough on how to use sublimation printer.

It is one of the most cost-effective printing methods since, if you already own a pc, you can engage in a sublimation printer that links via wireless networking, and then you only need to buy inks and transfer paper.

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