Sublimation printing is a process whereby full colour images, text and other graphics can be transferred into a receptive item. The process relies on a specialised ‘dye sublimation’ ink, which when heated changes from being a solid dye to being a gas, without passing through a liquid stage. Taking this a step further, if this gas encounters polymer fibres as it moves, it will penetrate those fibres, permanently dyeing them.
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Sublimation Process Explained
1.Dye Sublimation refers to solid dye particles that are changed into gas using heat and pressure, which then bond with any polymers present and change back into a solid.
2.The Basic Dye Sublimation Process uses special heat sensitive dyes to print grahics and text onto special transfer paper. The paper is then placed on a Blank Sublimation product and both are placed in aheat press.
3.When the heating cycle is complete, the image on the heat transfer paper has been transferred to the item and has actually reformed into or underneath the coated surface. Run your finger across the surface of a sublimated photo mug, plare or any coated product and you will feel nothing. It is as smooth as anything.
4.The reason for this is that sublimation is alsways done on polyester, polymer - coated items. At high temperatures, the solid dye converts into a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The same high temperature opens the pores of thepolymer and allows the gas to enter. When the temperature drops, the pores close and the gas reverts to a solid state. It has now become part of the polymer.
5.This is why Dye Sublimation can't be done on natural materials such as 100% cotton or natural fibres and non coated materials which have no " pores " to open. Unless a polymer coated paper is used.