What is a Sublimation Printer? (Complete Guide for 2024)

Is it necessary to have printed items that will survive for a long time, have distinct colors, and have high-resolution quality? The most outstanding graphic designers use the dye sublimation method to create colorful, long-lasting designs for garments, home décor, and advertising displays.

So, What Is Sublimation Printer, and why is it so successful in the first place? This thorough guide contains all of the knowledge you’ll ever need to know about the subject.

What is a Sublimation Printer?

Generally speaking, a dye-sublimation printer is a printer that prints by heating ink and depositing it on a surface. The phrase is derived from the assumption that ink may transition directly from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid phase, also known as sublimation.

When printing images and graphics on solid objects, dye-sublimation printers are the preferred method.

Dye-sublimation printers function by heating solid ink to a temperature that can be deposited on a solid surface, such as plastic or ceramic, and then cooling the ink.

These printers are used for a variety of tasks, including printing pictures and identification cards and printing on items such as coffee mugs and T-shirts.

Also Check: Best Sublimation Printer for Beginners

What is Sublimation Printing?

To begin, what exactly is sublimation printing? Sublimation printing is a common form intended to transfer designs from sublimation paper onto a piece of cloth or material using pressure and heat (between 350 and 400 degrees).

It is a cost-effective and straightforward method of adding customization to items used by both businesses and individuals at home since it involves changing the solid particles of the ink into a gaseous state.

What is a Sublimation Printer

How the sublimation printing process works?

It is a physical process in which solids flow straight into the gas phase without first becoming a liquid, referred to as sublimation. This technique is critical in transmitting the intended pattern and should not be overlooked.

When printing on a thermal transfer foil or paper, the image is first printed mirror-inverted, then put on the required material and heated to 230 degrees Celsius for 30 to 60 seconds using a thermal transfer press.

 Sublimating dyes are readily absorbed by the fibers in their gaseous condition at this temperature, allowing them to permeate and cling to them. Because the colors are embedded in the cloth following a successful transfer rather than being glued on, there will be no residue – the pattern is smooth and has a long lifespan.

What kind of printers is appropriate for use as sublimation printers?

Printers appropriate for sublimation printing often operate with dispersion dyes that are insoluble in water (i.e. viscous stains). These printers are sometimes referred to as sublimation or “sublime” printers in certain circles. As a result of the ink’s consistency and temperature sensitivity, sublimation printers with unique features are necessary.

You can only use regular inkjet printers with special water-based inks, which you must purchase separately. Changing between standard and special inks, on the other hand, is not suggested owing to the possibility of contamination of the print heads and tubes with residue.

Is sublimation a superior method of printing to screen printing?

Both printing procedures will yield long-lasting prints that will not fade or break, even after repeated washings in hot water.

However, although both dye Sublimation and screen printing indeed offer their own set of advantages, there are a few crucial aspects to consider when attempting to determine which printing process is the most advantageous:

The Quantity of the Order

This is generally the first item that has to be taken into consideration. As a general rule, the larger volume produced the more cost-effective the screen printing process. For more oversized orders, dye Sublimation is not the most feasible alternative because of the additional time required.

Preparation for the Job

At any one moment, you may apply just a single color to the substrate, which is one of the most critical constraints of screen printing. As an additional consideration, the alignment of various color layers must be considered. As a result, when several colors are involved in the screen printing process, the set-up time might be lengthy.

Choosing the Proprietary Materials

For some, this new technology is a game-changer since it may frequently determine whether a given printing method will be used or will not. Screen printing is the most flexible for the kind of materials you may print on. It allows you to print on nearly any material and from virtually any place. However, when it comes to dye Sublimation, polyester or polyester blend textiles that are either white or light in color are often the best candidates.

Fabric that has been printed using sublimation

What is Sublimation Printing

Whether you are planning to establish your printing firm and employ sublimation printing, or if you wish to experiment with the process at home, it is necessary to understand the available materials. These are the ones to look out for:

  1. Textile made of poly cotton
  2. A polymer is a kind of plastic.
  3. Made of polyester
  4. Porcelain
  5. PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  6. Aluminum with a polyester coating
  7. Metal with a polymer coating
  8. A polyester-based material
  9. Plastic with a polymer coating

In terms of sublimation printing, polyester and ceramic are the best materials to utilize out of the ones listed above. Fabric printing allows you to employ many designs and logos, as opposed to conventional printing, which may only generate one logo per garment.

Advantages of sublimation printing

  • The most exhilarating advantage of using this approach is the complete flexibility you have over your designs, which is not always available with other methods.
  • On one end of the scale, you have the freedom to be as insane as you want. Then why not print a whole t-shirt designed to appear like a burger? Alternatively, how about a cat soaring over (a gorgeously printed) galaxy background?
  • Alternatively, a snapshot of a prominent skyline or landscape may be more appropriate for a more formal setting. The options are almost limitless, which will have you going back for more and more each time.
  • The design’s permanence is advantageous since it is made of materials that will not fracture, peel, or fade over time. You may be sure that your clothing will never be relegated to the back of your closet, even after several washings!
  • A wide range of design modifications and applications are possible with sublimation printing, including small-batch orders, seam-to-seam designs, and garments with various pattern changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Designs do not work well with sublimation printing?

With sublimation printing, graphics with block colors or designs that demand excruciatingly precise positioning may not work as well as other printing methods

Is sublimation a good option for one logo?

Sublimation may not be the best option if you require one logo in the center of your clothing. This is because it is often costly to ‘print all over a garment than to apply a single logo front and center.

Is there any substance that won’t work with sublimation, and what are they?

 It is not recommended to use this kind of printing on textiles that are 100 per cent cotton or other natural materials. This is because they do not include the essential pores for the ink to be absorbed into the fabric.


One of the most critical aspects of successfully employing sublimation printing is knowing the method’s limits and selecting a design with care. After reading through the advantages and disadvantages and considering the samples provided above, you should be able to determine if the plan you have in mind would work with sublimation printing or whether you would be better off using direct to garment printing.

Leave a Comment