A Complete Guide on Sublimation Printing

A Complete Guide on Sublimation Printing

Mar 8th, 2021

Sublimation printing has reshaped the world of the printing industry.

The ease provided to printing owners makes it a go-to printing method for businesses. It is one of the most common ways to print images on synthetic fabrics and various materials. And the apparel industry with a huge market scope, sublimation printing remains one important method you will need to master in fabric printing.

This guide will help you understand sublimation printing from scratch, how you can get started in your print business. Let’s start with some basics first!

What is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation dye printing is a cost-effective solution for small batches and is widely used, especially for custom t-shirts. To simplify the definition, it’s a method of printing that transfers a design into a material or fabric using ink and heat. In the continually changing and increasing demand for custom printing, sublimation printing is turning out to be a leader as it allows whole garment prints.

Sublimation Printing Process:

Sublimation printing uses heat to mix ink and fabric. Firstly, the design is printed on the special paper. After that the ink turns into a gaseous substance via heat and provides better results. The effect is permanent and does not fade away because the ink mixes with the fabric instead of forming a layer.

Here, the heat opens the pores of the fabric, then the pressure is applied to cool down the fabric, and finally it reaches to the solid form. The final print is permanent, full of color and does not cracks, peels, or washes away.

It is quickly gaining attention because it is a perfect solution for small batch orders or orders which require detailed designs. Another name for this is all over printing because of its seamless design structure.

Sell More with Customizable Products

Why should you use Dye Sublimation:


The printing cost of the sublimation printing process is inexpensive compared to other printing techniques. For example, when you are working with DTG printers then first you need to invest in the large scale DTG printing machines. They are very costly and difficult to maintain.

Another method is screen printing; it needs a spacious area that is well ventilated. Further, each color needs a dedicated screen, thus at the end, everything ends up being very expensive. But, sublimation techniques are easy to use, less costly compared to others and easy to maintain. Here, you just need to have a printer, ink, heat transfer, designs, and you are good to go.

Quality of Printing:

When it comes to quality, nothing can beat sublimation prints. They transfer digitally created images via coated paper on your material. Using sublimation print, you can get high quality, high fidelity images on your product, no matter how complex the designs are, you can print them in a few minutes using sublimation printing.

Whereas, in screen printing, there is a limitation on colors. It allows only 6 colors, and each has to go via multiple screens, and each color needs a dedicated screen. Thus, it becomes difficult to print complicated designs on t-shirts and if screens are not washed properly, it results in bad prints.

Saves Time:

Printing becomes faster and efficient using sublimation printing process compared to other methods. It is a perfect solution for small and medium batch orders. Other printing methods can be way faster, but it takes a lot of time to set them up and learn. Hence, if you are new to printing business or are looking for a way to handle your small orders then sublimation printing is your answer.

Pros and Cons of Sublimation Printing:

Advantages of using Sublimation Prints:

  • It is easy to print on rough surfaces like mugs, plates, clocks, etc.
  • Easy to create complex designs using four color ink of CMYK. There are also no extra costs of having different screens.
  • Sublimation techniques are simple and easy to learn
  • You can personalize either 1 or 1000 of products easily.
  • The ink and fabric mixes well so that the final print is really good and cannot be scratched or lose colors.
  • Easy to produce thousands of products on the same day as printing process is faster

Dis-advantages of using Sublimation Prints:

  • If you are printing on t-shirt, it needs to be 100% or 2/3rd part must be polyester
  • For using sublimation printing the item must have light or colored print areas as black or dark areas cannot be sublimated.
  • There are chances that due to constant direct sunlight, the print might fade over a course of time.
  • If you are not using it every day, then the printheads may clog. Hence, it is better to keep the printer all and let it clean automatically daily.

Equipments needed for Sublimation Printing:

Sublimation Ink:

Choosing the sublimation ink is no less than a nightmare. Especially, when you have multiple options available for your business. There are many varieties of inks available in the market. Some sellers will try to persuade you by selling at low cost, but make sure that they are not of cheap quality.

Mostly the cheap quality links do not work and provide very and final prints which are nowhere near the digital image. This might result in fewer sales, rejection from customers, and ink fading. Remember to purchase good quality ink even though it is a bit costly, but the quality will be perfect and will help you to increase your sales and get more customers. Note; quality over quantity always.

Sublimation Paper:

While selecting papers for sublimation printing make sure that it has a consistent quality and is sharp. The sublimation paper is useful in transferring the designs and so they have to be perfect. Make sure that while transferring the ink to the paper, it is done slowly and the sharpness of the paper is maintained. Because, the sharpness of the paper will help you transfer the designs on the t-shirts and give good quality prints.

Heat Press:

Heat press machines have a vital role to play as they take the prints in the final stage and help to mix the ink and fabric. Mainly there are two types of machines found i.e. automatic and manual; you can select either of them depending on your preference.

The increasing demand for the final prints has forced many print owners to use automatic heat press machines as it needs less efforts and works faster. Whereas, manual machines need a lot of effort from resources and maintenance cost.

Design Software:

Design software is a very essential part as the major part of designing depends on it. As a print owner you will need to understand the need for learning various software like CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, etc. to create your own designs.

Apart from this, if you want to provide your customers with the freedom to create their own designs, you can use various third-party software like Product Design Tool from BrushYourIdeas. You just need to integrate it with your website, need some configurations, and your customers are all set to use it. Using the tool, they can create their own designs and customize their items on their own. Reducing the unwanted communication and last minute changes in designs.

T-shirt Personalization Tool

Types of Materials you can Sublimate:

One of the basic demands when it comes to sublimating on the materials is that they should be higher on the polyesters. Because it needs ink to bind the polymer when transferring the materials. Some specific types of fabrics needed are polyester, nylon, and spandex.

Apart from this, you can even sublimate aluminum and ceramic only if they are coated and can accept sublimation ink. While purchasing products, make sure to read whether it can support sublimation print or not.


Sublimation printing has come a long way in the printing industry and changed a lot for them and made it easy for print owners to bring complex designs to life. The emerging demand of custom printed clothes is increasing and is not going away in the near future. Thus, investing in the sublimation printer can be the perfect choice for your business.

Additionally, if you want to provide your customers with an easy to create their own design and customize their t-shirts, you can opt-in for the Product Design Tool from BrushYourIdeas. Your customers can easily create their own designs, using the feature rich library and personalize their products. Our industry experts will help you to set-up your eStore from the scratch.


All product and company names are trademarks™, registered® or copyright© trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Hiral Thaker

Hiral Thaker

Hiral is an Art of Living volunteer, IamRemarkable Facilitator, tech community enthusiast and loves talking about Google. Coming from an engineering background, she took up writing because she wants to contribute to making “Technology an Equalizer”. Hiral likes reading self-help books to know about other people’s stories and this gives her insight into creating stories about tech. You can often find her grooving to Taylor Swift or Kpop music. Her best writing is done on waffle energy! 

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