dye sublimation

Dye Sublimation is a process used to dye fabrics, developed in the carpet industry, whereby a solid ink, at 375 to 400 degrees, turns into a gas without becoming a liquid. Most sublimators print the image digitally (CMYK) on a special heat resistant transfer paper first and then take that paper to a heat press to ultimately transfer the image onto the fabric. Because the fabric is heated to 400 degrees, polyester based fabrics are the best choice for sublimating. Natural textiles are generally not an option due to their inability to withstand high temperatures.

There are two key advantages to the dye sublimation process. Since the polyester fibers open up at high temperatures allowing the gas (formerly the ink) to sublimate into them, the fibers actually become the color. Consequently the image can be washed or ironed. Secondly, running the inks through a heat press makes the colors "POP". Some of our competitors use direct-to-surface printing which has been unable to deliver the same results. Anyone comparing fabric printed on the two processes will always pick the "dye sublimated" image.

It can be amazing how different the colors look on the transfer prior to pressing compared to the fabric after having been through the heat press. The other day we printed a table skirt that was supposed to come out a "navy" blue. The transfer looked purple. After it went through the heat press and was transferred to the fabric, it was in fact "navy" blue. It is a weird science!!


Sublimate the Transfer onto Fabric at press
Cut fabric using hot knife
Sewing Operation
Table Skirt being sewn