What is Ghosting in Sublimation? How to Avoid Them in 2023

Last Updated on January 21, 2024 by Fredrick Miller

The “ghosting” effect is where the ink of the design being printed on the transfer paper bleeds through to areas of the shirt other than the area it was intended on. A typical cause of this would be using a lower heat setting on your sublimation machine than recommended by the manufacturer, which is not something you would normally do.

Ghosting, fading, and blurring are some of the most common printing issues with inkjet sublimation. But What is Ghosting in Sublimation? why does this happen? How to avoid these mistakes? Throughout this article, we will address these questions.

What is Ghosting in Sublimation?

Ghosting in Sublimation

In sublimation, printing solvents are used to convert a solid (a polymer) into a gas. Ghosting is a defect that occurs when the printout is not properly cleaned and dried, allowing the solvent to penetrate into subsequent prints.

Ghosting can also occur when the paper or film receiving the image has been improperly or inadequately prepared for sublimation printing. The result is an image that is dimmer than normal because it contains unexposed dye colors from previous images on top of the desired image.

Why Does Ghosting Happen?

Ghosting in sublimation is a phenomenon that is commonly seen when you are sublimating your designs. It can be seen as a transparent or semi-transparent print on your final product. Generally, this phenomenon can be attributed to the poor quality of your material and its ink setting.

Here are some reasons why ghosting in sublimation happens:

The Ink Setting Is Not Proper

One of the main reasons why ghosting in sublimation happens is due to an improper ink setting. In order for the ink to set properly, it needs to be dried thoroughly before you start printing again. Otherwise, the ink will bleed into other colors and create unwanted effects, such as ghosting in sublimation.

Incorrect Layer Settings

If you’re using an inkjet printer, ghosting can occur if you don’t have the correct settings for your printer or paper. Ghosting can also occur if your print is too small for the paper size you’re using.

For example, your image may not be large enough to cover the entire sheet of paper and will appear somewhat transparent. This is because the ink doesn’t saturate all the paper’s fibers.

Incorrect Ink Type

Certain types of ink cause ghosting due to their composition. This includes metallic inks, which are made up of very small flakes of metal suspended in the liquid. Metallic inks are very popular in sublimation printing because they’re vibrant and bright colors.

However, they tend to leave a slight residue on darker colors when printed over them, which can cause some areas of your image to appear faded or washed out.

Overheating During the Printing Process

Ghosting can also occur during printing if your equipment overheats while printing an image. This can happen if you leave an item unattended during printing (such as overnight) or if you run a large number of prints at once. Maintain a close eye on your equipment’s temperature to avoid getting too hot.

The recommended temperature range for most sublimation printers is between 210-220 degrees Fahrenheit. The heating element in your printer will need to be replaced if it exceeds this range.

Poorly Cleaned Machine

Another reason why ghosting may occur is because of a poorly cleaned machine. The heat from the sublimation process will damage any leftover ink or colors on the surface of your equipment, including any residuals from previous jobs done on it.

To prevent this from happening, make sure to clean your machine before using it for each new job by wiping down all surfaces.

How to Avoid Ghosting in Sublimation?

There are various ways to avoid the chances of this happening or fix it if it does happen:

Make sure you use good quality inks and a good quality shirt. If you are printing on a premium fabric, make sure that your ink is also premium and that it washes well with no fading or bleeding after multiple washes.

Ghosting can be avoided by using transfer paper that has been specially formulated to prevent this problem. You should always use transfer paper made specifically for sublimation printing, as the regular paper will not protect the image from being damaged by heat during the printing process.

In addition, make sure that you are following all manufacturer’s directions when creating your project, including any pre-treatment steps that may be necessary before printing on sublimation transfer paper with your printer and/or heat press.

Use an inkjet printer with a high-resolution setting, and ensure that you’re not printing at too high of a DPI (dots per inch). For example, if you’re using our Xpress Pro 4500XL printer, which prints at 1440 x 720 dpi, make sure that your artwork is set for 1440 x 720 dpi instead of trying to print at higher resolutions like 2400 x 1200 dpi.

This will help avoid ghosting because it will allow more space between each dot and, therefore, less chance for them to bleed together or overlap during printing.

To avoid ghosting, you need to make sure that your image files are saved in RGB color space. Even if you’re using CMYK sublimation paper and inks, it’s still important to save your files in RGB color space because they will be converted to CMYK when they’re printed.

The best way to avoid ghosting is by using a heat press with a temperature range of 210-300 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range is ideal for transferring images onto sublimation garments because it allows for proper ink transfer without burning or damaging the garment itself.

How to Fix Ghosting on Sublimation Tumbler?

Ghosting on a sublimation tumbler is usually caused by insufficient heat for the transfer process. Ghosting can also occur if the ink is not properly mixed with water or if too much water is used.

To fix ghosting, first, try increasing the temperature of your tumbler. You may need to try a different type of ink if this doesn’t work. As a last resort, if none of these solutions work, you may need to replace your transfer paper or use a different type of paper altogether.

The best way to fix ghosting is to follow these steps:

Clean your tumbler thoroughly with soap and warm water. Make sure all of the old ink has been removed from all surfaces of your tumbler, including the inside of the lid, print heads, and rollers.

This will prevent your new designs from acquiring any residue. If you don’t clean it well enough, your new design may still have ghosting issues even if you follow all the other steps in this article.

Be careful when printing on your tumbler not to use too much ink. Suppose there is too much ink on the tumbler surface. In that case, it won’t be able to absorb all of it properly, and some may remain on top of the surface, causing ghosting issues with future prints as well as causing poor print quality due to pigment built upon the surface of the tumbler.

Why Does My Sublimation Look Faded?

Sublimation printing is a process in which the dye sublimes from a solid state to a gas and then deposits on the substrate. The dye is attached to a transfer sheet, and when it reaches its destination, it leaves the sheet and attaches itself to a t-shirt or other fabric item.

When you print on paper, this process is easy because the paper is made out of fibers that are able to absorb the ink. But when you’re printing on fabrics or plastics, there are no fibers to absorb the ink, so it just sits on top of the fabric or plastic and wears off over time. This is called “fading” because when your printed image looks like it faded away after being washed or worn in sunlight.

The room’s temperature is the biggest factor that will affect how your print looks. If you have a large room with poor air circulation (and no air conditioning), you may notice that your print fades very quickly.

Excessive heat and humidity are also factors that can cause fading. If your items are stored in an area like this, they will fade faster than if they were stored in a cooler environment.

The most common cause of faded sublimation is using an ink and garment combination that isn’t compatible with each other. For example, if you use a shirt that was not designed for sublimation printing and then attempt to print on it using an ink intended for direct-to-garment printing, you may end up with a faded image. The solution here is simple: just ensure that your ink matches the garment and vice versa!


What does sublimation ghosting look like?

Ghosting occurs when there isn’t enough ink on your sublimation printer. This causes an image of the previous print to appear faintly on top of the current print.

Ghosting can also occur if your printer has been sitting unused for some time or if you’re using old ink cartridges.

How do I make sublimation brighter?

To make your sublimation prints brighter, you’ll need to add extra ink to your printer’s cartridge before printing each design out again.

If your printer has a built-in cartridge, you can simply remove the old cartridge and replace it with a new one. If your printer doesn’t have this feature, you’ll need to refill your existing cartridge instead.

Which sublimation paper is best?

The best sublimation paper depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you want a smooth, glossy finish, then opt for photo paper or glossy sublimation paper. Alternatively, you can opt for uncoated sublimation sheets to achieve a matte finish

Does sublimation fade after washing?

Sublimation prints won’t fade after washing. The ink is fused into a special coating that can withstand up to 100 washes or more! You may notice some minor color fading, but this will depend on the quality of your sublimation paper and how often you wash your garments.

Final Words

The takeaway from this piece is essential that sublimation printing is an effective way to print on textiles. The short answer is that when your design doesn’t appear on your shirt, it’s called ghosting.

This can happen for many reasons, the ink wasn’t smooth enough to transfer well, you’re using a sublimation printer that isn’t high quality and has rough edges, the shirt is saturated with heat prior to printing so that it moves during the printing process, or another issue with the picture.

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