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Dye Sublimation Printing

About Dye Sublimation Printing

Dye Sublimation Printing is a growth area in display, exhibitions and specialist printing across the UK.

Most people are unfamiliar with the technology and the possibilities it presents.

We thought what better than an overview of Dye Sublimation Printing, explained in plain English to help you understand what’s what?

1. What is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is the application of sublimation inks onto a surface using a heat press to provide the required combination of heat, time and pressure. This combination causes the inks to be converted from a solid to a gaseous state enabling them to penetrate the sublimatable surface so that a permanent, full colour image is formed. The colour penetrates the surface of the item so that the result is colourful, long lasting and resistant to scratching unlike some other printing methods that merely print onto the surface of the item.

2. Dye sublimation printing is always done on a polyester, polymer, or polymer coated item.

At high temperatures, the solid dye converts into a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The same high temperature opens the pores of the polymer and allows the gas to enter. When the temperature drops, the pores close and the gas reverts to a solid state. It has now become a part of the polymer. For this reason true dye sublimation cannot be done on natural materials such as 100% cotton. Natural fibres and non-coated materials have no "pores" to open.

3. What are Dye Sublimation Inks?

Dye sublimation inks are basically a formulation of different colored dyes suspended in liquids that will pass through a digital printer.

4. What can be Sublimation Printed?

You can sublimation print onto a wide variety of items provided that the surface is suitable for sublimation printing. We offer both 'soft' and 'hard' items that are suitable for sublimation printing.

Soft items including polyester fabric, canvas, gazebos, carpet tiles, curtains, bed spreads, t-shirts, polo shirts, cushions, car sun screens and even doormats! A sublimation print on a suitable polyester fabric is permanent, feels like part of the fabric with no 'hand' and will not crack, peel or fade.

Hard items including specially coated plaques, signs, placemats, coasters, tiles and even glass.

5. What cannot be Sublimation printed?

Cotton fabric and garments. Because dye sublimation printing is always done on a polyester, polymer, or polymer coated items (see above). It is possible to sublimation print a cotton fabric but the image will wash out within a few washes.

Other items that may have a polyester/polymer coating but which are unsuitable as they are unable to withstand the temperatures required for dye sublimation printing.

6. How long does it take to get Dye Sublimation Products delivered from The Image Group?

We offer most Dye Sublimation products in a matter of days. In emergency situations we can often better this.

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