Sublimation printing has become increasingly popular in the apparel industry for creating custom-designed clothing. In this blog post, we will explore what sublimation printing is, the advantages and disadvantages of using it, and what types of apparel are best suited for sublimation printing.
What is Sublimation Printing?
Sublimation printing is a process where heat is applied to a special type of ink, called dye-sublimation ink, causing it to turn into a gas that permeates the fabric of the apparel. Once the ink has become a gas, it bonds with the fibers in the fabric, creating a permanent print.
This process is different from traditional printing methods, such as screen printing, where ink is applied directly to the surface of the fabric. With sublimation printing, the ink becomes part of the fabric, resulting in a vibrant, long-lasting image. Other popular printing methods include DTG (direct-to-garment) and screen printing.
Advantages of Sublimation Printing
- One of the biggest advantages of sublimation printing is the high level of detail and vibrancy that can be achieved. Because the ink becomes part of the fabric, there are no raised surfaces or edges, resulting in a smooth, seamless finish.
- Sublimation printing is also incredibly durable, with the print lasting as long as the fabric does. This makes it ideal for apparel that will be worn and washed frequently, as the design will not crack or fade over time.
- Another advantage of sublimation printing is the ability to print a wide range of colors and designs. Because the dye-sublimation ink is absorbed into the fabric, there is no limit to the number of colors that can be used, and even photographic images can be printed with stunning accuracy.
Disadvantages of Sublimation Printing
- While sublimation printing has many advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider. One of the biggest drawbacks is that it can only be used on certain types of fabrics, specifically those made of polyester or a polyester blend. This is because the dye-sublimation ink needs to bond with the fibers in the fabric, and polyester is the only fabric that allows for this to happen. While some other types of fabrics, such as nylon, can be used for sublimation printing, the results may not be as vibrant or long-lasting.
- Another disadvantage of sublimation printing is that it can only be used on light-colored fabrics. Because the dye-sublimation ink becomes part of the fabric, it cannot be used to print on dark-colored fabrics, as the ink will not show up against the dark background.
Best Types of Apparel for Sublimation Printing
As mentioned earlier, sublimation printing can only be used on certain types of fabrics, specifically those made of polyester or a polyester blend. This makes it ideal for sportswear, such as jerseys, as well as activewear, like leggings and shorts.
T-shirts and other casual wear can also be sublimation printed, but it’s important to note that the fabric needs to be light-colored in order for the print to show up properly. For this reason, white and light-colored polyester T-shirts are a popular choice for sublimation printing.
Sublimation printing is also commonly used for creating custom accessories, such as hats, bags, and socks. Again, these items need to be made of polyester or a polyester blend in order for the print to bond properly with the fabric.
Sublimation printing is a popular method for creating custom-designed apparel and accessories. With its ability to produce high-quality, vibrant prints that last as long as the fabric does, it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are turning to sublimation printing for their printing needs.
We offer sublimation printing (and a load of other printing methods) on a range of apparel - drop us your details below to find out more!