Sublimation Printing – What is it?

Sublimation Printing – What is it?

Digital printing is a great substitute for traditional print. Over the last few years, the graphic printing and the textile printing industries have adopted digital printing methods.The primary reasons behind the progression to digital printing are the opportunities of personalised printing, cost-efficiency, and flexibility of the machines.

The textile printing industry is replacing their traditional screen-printing technique with digital textile printing methods too. Sublimation printing is an ideal digital alternative that offers multiple colour printing, photographic imagery and personalised printing possibilities.

What is sublimation printing?

Also known as “dye- sub” and “dye sublimation print”, sublimation printing is a flexible digital printing method that helps textile designers with creativity and production output. The sublimation printing process is carried out by transferring the sublimation dyes to a medium which has a specially designed inkjet printer. After transferring the dye to the medium, they are then transferred to a heated object or cloth and pressurised through a commercial heat press.

Any garment or object with a polyester base or polyester coating can be designed with the help of sublimation printing. With pressure and heat, the dye on the medium sublimates and transforms into a gas. It is then absorbed by the polyester to reflect the design.

The finest quality of sublimation printing is that which does not fade or crack on the fabric. These prints are also very light and do not have any harsh texture. As the technique uses heat sensitive inks, the print on garments looks bright even after many washes.

Sublimation in a nutshell

Dye sublimation is produced by printing sublimation ink onto transfer paper, and then heat pressing it on to the product. Commonly used for apparel, can coolers, mugs and mouse pads, sublimation is perfect for producing vivid, full colour images. Sublimation stays vibrant and cannot be washed out.

Benefits of sublimation printing

#1 Small Runs, Big Gains: Traditional screen printing requires separate screens, films and a big setup for fabric printing. On the other hand, sublimation printing is straightforward and runs on small orders. Traditional print is very expensive compared to sublimation printing.

#2 Easy Customisation: Some might comment that even when sublimation printing makes it possible to personalise the product prints, an additional budget is required for creating the art. The art charges apply because of its personalised transfer and unique set of printing requirements. However, this is the easiest way of adding personal customisation to printed products. Overall, sublimation printing is more cost-effective than traditional printing.

#3 No minimum orders: Traditional printing works with bulk orders. Sustaining a sublimation printing setup is cost effective because the business can process a small amount of orders, as well as bulk ones. This makes sublimation printing a preferred choice for new generation printing business owners.


#1 Applicable to light colours: Colours included in sublimation get merged with the colour of the garment. Therefore, it is recommended to get sublimation done on white or light coloured clothes. You can either completely dye your white garments or print over it anything you like.

#2 Polyester garments centric: It is true that sublimation printing is only possible on polyester clothes but the polyester clothing you get today is not as thick as the polyester of the 70’s. Most of the fabrics that you see are usually polyesters, and cotton-like textured clothes are also combined in sublimation-amiable polyester.

#3 High prices in large runs: A large run of sublimation print order can cost you more than the traditional screen printing technique. However, even if sublimation is slightly more expensive in larger runs, the diminished setup cost makes sublimation more economical for photo-realistic designs or full-colour.

Interested in beautifully vibrant, creative and professional products? Contact us today to discuss your sublimating dreams!