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What is Dye Sublimation?

Dye Sublimation Printing is an effective means to transferring a design to an object. Originally, dye sublimation printing gained its name from the misguided belief that the dye itself changes state from solid to gas without entering a liquid stage. Liquidation in sublimation dye does exist, though very briefly.

Dye sublimation printing is used to transfer designs to apparel, signage, banners, as well as so many more sundry items such as photo frames, key chains, coffee mugs – the list is truly endless, and the limitations of dye sublimation printing are limited only to the imagination of the artist.

It works by printing a design onto a sheet of sublimation paper. The size of the design and the intricacy has improved in recent years due to the advent of specialist sublimation printers, which are provided by dye sublimation specialists such as Novachrome. Utilisation of graphics software, most notably Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw and even Autodesk’s Sketchup allows artists professional results in their design work in addition to this.

When the transfer is printed to the sublimation paper, it then undergoes a heat press process which applies a high temperature to the print as well as the material, as well as a great deal of pressure. This allows the print to be applied to the surface material, in a manner far better than transfers used via iron.

Dye sublimation creates a permanent, high resolution and full colour print, which will last far longer than screen printing, or direct to garment printing. It is also noted that the fading, cracking and peeling normally associated with other methods do not happen with dye sublimation printing due to the higher pressures and the higher temperature binding the print to the material at a molecular level. Put simply, the transfer becomes the material itself.

Dye sublimation printing used to be a complex process which was normally reserved for specialist print shops, but the combination of accessible hardware as well as accessible software allows for the high-quality transfer process to be accessible to anyone.


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