A Short Guide to Dye Sublimation

If you’re in the market looking to get custom-printed promotional gifts, apparel, or even tents and displays for your business, dye sublimation is a great option. Dye Sublimation is one of the most popular printing techniques in the market for textile materials that offer high resolutions colors that are not only rich and vibrant but lasting as well. Let’s get into further details so you can get a better understanding.

What Is Dye-Sublimation?

Dye-Sublimation is a printing process that involves some chemistry elements to make the magic happen. In the sublimation process, the ink turns from a solid element into a gas using high heat. This allows the gas to enter the fibers of the textile and infuses the materials with the colors. The result offers rich, vibrant colors onto the fabric that are permanent. This printing technique is great for fabric surfaces from apparel, to promotional flags, canopies, and pop-up tents, etc.

This type of high-resolution printing allows for a durable effect, making it scratch-resistant and quick to dry. What is unique about sublimation ink is that it is both non-toxic and eco-friendly.

About Sublimation Ink

Sublimation ink is best used on white plain textile surfaces in order to guarantee a higher resolution print as it is directly absorbed into the textile.

Dye-Sublimation Ink is a water-based ink made up of solid color dye particles, grounded into a powder and turned into liquid. Although they are higher in price, and therefore best used in great quantities, they tend to not produce as many toxins as most other inks.

Sublimation inks are best used on polyester surfaces, limiting cotton and nonporous surfaces. Since the inks are transparent, the process is best on only white or light-colored surfaces.

Dye Sublimation Vs. Direct Dye Sublimation & How It Works

As discussed earlier, the dye sublimation process is aided by heat, where its particles will permeate onto the surface. There is both a conventional and direct form of dye sublimation. With conventional dye sublimation, you must first start with the printing of an image onto transfer paper. Through heat and pressure, the solid-state of the ink turns into a gas, skipping the liquid phase. All this is possible under a temperature of 385F to 400F. Once the gas particles get onto the fabric surface, it sets and solidifies themselves onto the fibers, allowing for a vivid, detailed image.

With direct dye sublimation, the method will print, either digitally or with the screen, directly onto the textile, skipping the use of transfer paper. Usually, the fabric will require a special coating to allow for the inks to float properly onto the surface. Once the fabric is exposed to heat, the ink will bleed through and form a bold and durable image.

To learn more details about dye sublimation and other popular printing techniques, download our free E-Book.


Printing Techniques Ebook