What is Sublimation Ink Complete Guide in 2024

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Fredrick Miller

Sublimation printing is a generally approved and commonly used method for producing high-quality, brilliantly colored pictures and vibrant patterns in large quantities. But first of all What is sublimation ink? Sublimation printing necessitates sublimation inks, which are dye particles infused with pigment.

They are powdered and then suspended in a liquid that transports them without dissolving them, allowing them to be used as inks.

What is sublimation ink, and how does it work?

The definition of sublimation ink is based on the dye-sublimation printing technique, in which heat and pressure are applied so that the ink is transformed directly into a gas rather than first being liquefied, as opposed to other printing processes. When ink is transferred onto materials at a high temperature, it prevents the ink from migrating, breaking, or smearing.

What is sublimation ink

 The ink becomes an essential component of the printed product and does not fade or wash away over time. Sublimation inks, as a result, are very dependable and long-lasting, in addition to the high degree of precision that can be achieved when utilizing this particular kind of ink and printing procedure.


Sublimation inks are made up of two different kinds of dyes used in various ways. Desktop and large format printers use aqueous sublimation ink dyes, which are aqueous.

The solvent kind of sublimation ink dyes, on the other hand, are employed by printers with a broad head, such as those made by Konica, Spectra, and XAAR, among others. Due to the high print rates achieved by the former kind of sublimation inks while printing large formats, it has been discovered that piezoelectric printers are increasingly using them.

Also check: What is a Sublimation Printer? 


Sublimation inks may be used for a variety of applications, including the following:

  • Textiles: polyester textiles are transformed into magnificent works of art when printed with various inks. You may use them to make carpet fabrics, flagging material, sails, and sportswear. All of them are machine washable and reusable, even after extensive use.
  • Things like mugs, key chains, magnets, and other small ceramic, wood, and metal items may be decorated and utilized to make signs for businesses by printing sublimation prints. The vibrant inks are put into the products, and they can preserve their appearance even after being washed repeatedly.
  • Sublimation is a simple process for synthetic textiles having a polyester basis. This comprises stiff polyester films, polyester fabrics, including nylon, and other things you may treat with polyesters, such as plastics and rubber.

Sublimation in comparison to Heat Transfer Paper

Heat transfer paper and sublimation are two garment decorating techniques that we hope you are familiar with by now. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and compare these two garment decoration methods in a few key areas.

Costs of Starting a Business and Equipment Requirements

One of the most affordable options is to use heat transfer paper to decorate garments when it comes to beginning off. The following items are required: an inkjet or laser printer (which you may already have), a heat press, thermal transfer paper, and the tee shirts or other clothes you’d want to paint.

 At a very reasonable price, sublimation beginning kits like the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 provide everything you need to get started with sublimation, except the heat press.

A sublimation printer, sublimation paper, required software, and a sample pack of goods that may be sublimated are all included in this package deal. All you need is a heat press for the rest of the process, and a hobbyist heat press begins at approximately $300.

Durability and the way it feels

Sublimation is a procedure in which the ink is absorbed into the cloth rather than being applied as a coating on top of it. Consequently, the transfer is unrivalled in terms of both longevity and tactile sensation.

On the other hand, heat transfer paper puts an additional layer on top of the clothing. Even though you can physically touch it, this extra layer is less robust than sublimation and may get faded and broken over time as a result of repeated washings.

It is important to note that not all heat transfer papers are made alike, and you will discover some that have a softer feel and are more durable than other transfer papers.

Is the sublimation process of high quality?

“does it last well?” is the first thing people ask about any décor. The answer to the question of sublimation is a straightforward “yes.” Sublimation is noted for its durability, scratch resistance, and ability to withstand repeated washing. You should not notice any fading on your photograph if you’re talking about clothing.

Specifically speaking, the image will not scratch or peel off when it comes to hard items such as coasters, picture panels, and keychains. Sublimation is a process in which anything “becomes a part of the substrate.” as the term implies. Therefore, to ruin the picture, you must first damage the substrate.

Best Sublimation Ink

This does not imply that sublimation will persist indefinitely; nothing lasts indefinitely. It is possible to have a mug that has been sublimated and cleaned several times throughout the years.

Eventually, though, the face will exhibit wear and tear indications. In addition, how the garment is washed and handled makes a difference.

With sublimation, you can easily professionally personalize products while maintaining a high level of quality that is regarded as the industry standard.

Do you need a specific printer for sublimation ink?

Yes, without a doubt. Sublimation ink is a particular formula of ink that is specifically developed to sublimate when exposed to heat. This is not the same ink you would use on your desktop or office printer to print documents.

The paper you will use in the printer has also been created using a specific recipe. You’ll need a printer that has been specially developed to handle the ink and paper that you will feed through it to do this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you turn a desktop printer into a sublimation printer?

It is possible to turn a desktop printer into a sublimation printer using third-party software. The degree to which they are successful will vary from one person to the next.

What are the applications of sublimation ink?

A wide range of printed items, such as T-shirts and other clothing, even those made of polyester, benefit from the long-lasting sublimation ink, which is highly recommended.


You should be aware that sublimation inks are transparent due to their natural composition, and as a result, they can only be used on light colored or white backgrounds and objects. Another restriction of sublimation printing is that it does not work well with textiles made entirely of cotton or with surfaces that are non-porous and do not have a polyester coating.

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