Last Updated on May 27, 2023 by Fredrick Miller
In sublimation printing, heat and pressure transfer a design to a surface. This benefits screen printers because it allows them to print custom designs onto customer-supplied products like apparel, furniture and electronics.
But some common mistakes are made by inexperienced or unskilled customers when they try to print with sublimation ink.
Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your sublimation printing process or considering switching from one type of printer to another, our top 10 most common sublimation printing problems can help you make better decisions.
Sublimation Printing Problems and Solutions
Here are some of the most common issues with sublimation printing:
Colour Matching Problems
When printing sublimated items, it is important to make sure that the color of your design matches that of your product. This is a common problem with many products because they are printed using CMYK inks, which leave out the white ink.
In order to get a bright white color on your printed product, you will need to use light cyan ink to get the brightest white possible. In some cases, CMYK colors may be required for artwork, so this method will not work for all designs.
Excessive Ink Consumption
Another common problem with sublimation printing is excessive ink consumption. This can be due to several factors, such as poor quality paper stock or incorrect settings in your printer software.
To prevent excessive ink consumption, make sure that you are using high-quality paper stock without any defects or blemishes. Also, ensure all settings in your printer software are correct before starting any print jobs.
Sublimation printing is most commonly associated with the failure of printers. There are, however, some steps we can take to prevent printer malfunctions.
The first step is to check the ink cartridge and replace it if necessary. If this doesn’t work, try cleaning the print head with an alcohol swab or other cleaning solution. If this does not work, your printer may have internal issues that need further repair by a professional technician.
Blank Prints happen when the ink does not transfer from the paper onto your item correctly.
If you are getting blank prints, make sure that you have enough ink in your cartridge. If this doesn’t solve your problem, try cleaning your print heads by going into “maintenance mode” on your printer and running a cleaning cycle. If this doesn’t work either, it’s likely that your print heads are clogged with ink and need to be replaced.
If you notice blurry prints, then this could be caused due to a dirty screen or roller. To clean up your screen and roller properly, follow these steps:
Clean your screen using a mild dishwashing liquid and water solution, followed by rinsing it off with plain water. Then wipe down both sides of your roller with a clean cloth dipped in warm water and wrung out well so that no excess moisture remains on either side of your roller, and let it dry completely before using it again.
Banding occurs when there’s too much contrast between the different colors being printed, and each color band has its own set amount of ink density. Rather than smooth transitions from one color to another, this results in bands of color.
If you’re experiencing this problem, try adjusting your printer settings so that they’re more consistent across all colors being used in your design file. For example, if some colors have higher contrast than others, adjust all colors so they’re similar in contrast ratio.
Poor Color Output (Muddy Color)
Sublimation printing can produce muddy colors, instead of the bright and vibrant ones you expect. You should first check your ink cartridges if the colors are not coming out as expected.
If the cartridges are low on ink or completely empty, this can cause bad color output. Also, if you have recently replaced the cartridges, it could be that the new ones are not compatible with your printer.
Poor Transfer Quality (Ghosting, Fade Out, Lack of Saturation, etc.)
Ghosting and fade-out are common issues with sublimation printing. Ghosting is when an image appears faint but can still be seen, especially in areas of high contrast. Fade-out is similar to ghosting, except that it occurs when the ink fades away completely. Lack of saturation can also be caused by bad color output and poor transfer quality.
The most common cause of poor transfer quality is incorrect printer settings. Ensure that your print head temperature setting matches the recommended settings on your ribbon manufacturer’s site and your ink supplier’s site.
Paper Jamming or Paper Feed Problems
If you have paper jamming issues, it may be because you are using low-quality papers that are not meant for sublimation printing. They are being pulled into the sublimation printer improperly by the rollers.
The other common reason for this problem is if you’re using too much pressure on the media while feeding it into the printer so that it gets caught between rollers and causes them to stop turning correctly (causing jams).
Print Head Strikes/Damage
If your print head is striking or damaged, it will cause a misalignment in the print head position. This will cause your print job to be cut off at the edge of the garment and shadow in the image.
There are usually two reasons for this: improper installation of the print head or damage during transportation. In such cases, you can try the following:
Remove the ink cartridge from the printer and clean it with a lint-free cloth dipped in alcohol. You will be able to remove any debris or dust that is blocking the nozzles by doing this.
If there is any dried ink on the print head, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol and gently rub off the dried ink until there are no streaks left behind.
What causes lines in sublimation prints?
Lines are caused by the heat of the print head and/or the heat of the substrate. A build-up of ink can also cause lines on your print head, which will cause streaks as it passes over your image.
What causes sublimation to bleed?
Sublimation bleeding is caused by too much pressure or too high temperatures, which causes excess ink to transfer to the backside of your shirt. The problem occurs when you use high-pressure and high-temperature settings in combination with a T-shirt that has a thin fabric weight.
What pressure do you use for sublimation?
The pressure you use for sublimation depends on the T-shirt’s thickness and the type of material it’s made from. If your T-shirt has a thin fabric weight, then you should use high pressure to ensure an even print.
How do I make sublimation brighter?
If you want brighter colors, we recommend using an inkjet printer instead of an offset printer. Inkjet printers can produce better results than offset printers because they have higher resolution and better color accuracy than offset presses.
As a whole, sublimation is the ideal method for moving away from traditional printing methods. Despite its versatility, it produces high-quality items that can be used on both smaller and larger items.
Once you have mastered the process, it is fairly straightforward. With these small tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to creating large amounts of customized products without all the hassle of dealing with large printing companies.
Fredrik Miller is the Founder of PrinterLake.com, a platform dedicated to providing information on sublimation printing. With a Master’s degree in Information Technology from 2012, Fredrik brings a wealth of technical knowledge and expertise to the site.
He leads a team of writers who are experts in the field and strive to deliver the best and most comprehensive information on sublimation printers, inks, and paper.