Q: What is sublimation?
Sublimation is the process when a substance changes from a solid to a gas or a gas to a solid without going through the liquid stage. Ice is a solid that when heated melts into a liquid and then eventually evaporates into a gas. In the sublimation process there is no liquid stage.
Q: What are sublimation inks?
Sublimation inks are made up of solid color dye particles that are ground into a powder and then they are suspended in a liquid carrier. These color dye particles do not melt in the liquid carrier like sugar does in coffee.
Q: How does sublimation ink work?
Even though you don’t see the sold color dyes they are floating around in the ink. An image is then printed on a treated paper. From there the paper with the image is placed on the material you wish to print and put in a heat press. The material must be polyester or a polyester treated substrate. When the solid color dyes on the printed image are heated they become a gas and transfer to the polyester. At the same time the polyester expands making it easier for the gas to be absorbed.
When they are cooled the dyes return to their solid state, but are now an indelible part of the printed material.
Q: What kinds of materials can be sublimated?
Synthetic polyester based substrates. This includes polyester textiles, lycra and rigid polyester films. Almost any other substrate that has a polyester treatment can be sublimated. Nylon can be sublimated as well.
Q: What kind of paper should be used for sublimation printing?
Paper designed specifically for sublimation transfer that has an easy release surface so that the color dye particles can separate easily when they become a gas.
Q: What kind of printer do I need?
Digital sublimation inks are compatible with Epson piezo print head technology. These print heads are found on Epson printers, Mimaki, Roland, Mutoh and others.