A dye sublimation printing is a process that transfers a dye onto a material through heat. The process gets its name since it converts a dye into gas that permeates into a substrate and blends completely with its content. This is an effective printing technique which helps bond the ink with the substrate. As a result, it creates a design that looks more beautiful and durable than other printing methods.
Dye sublimation has its set of pros and cons. The biggest upside of dye sublimation is that it produces vivid colors on a material as compared to other available printing options, while the biggest downside is that it is a time-consuming process which makes it a bad choice for high volume production.
To get the best result with the dye sublimation process, you need to be familiarized with the apparatus, technique, and the entire process of this printing method. But if you are new to dye sublimation printing method, let us guide you with our expert tips to get the best results from this printing method:
1.Use the Right Fabric
Dye sublimation is a good option for printing designs or custom patches on a garment. Knowing your fabric is the first step to get the best results from this printing method. Remember that dye sublimation works best only with 100% polyester fabric. So if you are using a blended polyester, then expect that the ink will not wholly saturate with the garment and it will result in a weak color on the cloth.
Besides, there are some polyester-made clothes that are not suitable for dye sublimation since they are not properly finished at the right temperature. When you treat them with a heat press, they tend to mess the ink which results in a poor print. Therefore, you need to make sure that the garment is certified to be printed with dye sublimation method.
2.Be Wary of the Requirements of Your Substrate
Not all equipment in dye sublimation is suitable for every material. Keep in mind that temperature and pressure are contingent on the type of material in a dye sublimation process. This printing method works under specific heat and pressure. Any discrepancy in these variables can alter the result of final output.
In other words, you need to provide conducive conditions to get a perfect print on a specific substrate. A mug will not use the same pressure and temperature that you will apply to a t-shirt to print custom made patches. The same goes with other substrates like a ceramic mug, metal insert or a plastic bottle. In a nutshell, you should use the right materials and temperature settings to get desirable prints on a substrate.
3.Use the Right Settings for Heat Press
Dye sublimation can go wrong if you are not familiar with using a heat press. Remember that heat press functions on three significant variables: temperature, pressure and time. Unless you set the right values for these three variables, you cannot get a perfect print on the substrate. A poorly executed heat press could result in smudged ink or shiny squares around the design.
To keep things in control, you should first learn about the material of your substrate and then apply the best heat press settings to get the desired pattern on a substrate. You can test out different temperature and pressure settings on sample products to check what works best for a specific type of substrate.
4.Remove The Moisture
Not many people know that moisture can be a hidden culprit behind a lousy print. A substrate can accumulate some moisture with time, and it can push the ink away from the right spot. To prevent the transfer paper from catching the humidity, you need to secure it in a re-sealable bag.
To completely remove the residual moisture on the paper, you can just put it on the press without pressing it. This will remove any moisture on the paper, and it will be ready for printing. But if you are printing a garment like a t-shirt, you can simply pre-press it for 5-10 seconds to get rid of the moisture.
5.Get All the Accessories
Just like any printing process, dye sublimation requires the use of some essential accessories. For example, you need the hand gloves to protect your hands from getting burnt. Similarly, you will need a sublimation heat pad to transfer the heat on every part of a substrate.
There are other essential items like Teflon sheet, thermal tape, and spray adhesive, etc. that you will need to ensure smooth printing on the substrate. Make sure that you have all these things available before you start the printing process.
6.Document Your Prints
This is particularly helpful for rookie printers who have just entered the dye sublimation industry. Keeping a record of the variable for a particular print will give you an idea of the right proportion of ink, temperature, pressure, and time to get an impression on a specific substrate.
So let’s say you are printing custom back patches on a t-shirt, you will have the right values available to use in the printing process. In this way, you will save the time and money that go into “trial and error,” and you will set the right temperature, pressure and time to get a perfect print on a specific substrate.
7.Prepare Your Substrate
Preparation is an important part of printing, and any lapse at this stage can spoil the quality of a print. Therefore, you need to prepare a substrate before you start the printing process. For hard material like a mug, you need to apply the heat tape on sides of the transfer paper to avoid it interfering the design.
Similarly, if you are printing a design on a soft substrate, you need to remove the dust and frays that might come in contact with design and cause the ink to blow away.
The best way you can do it is by applying a spray adhesive on the image part of the paper with a distance of 12 inches. This will make it easier for a soft substrate to attach to the material that you want to print on.
8.Keep Up Your Heat Press and Printer
And last but not least. Maintenance is essential for getting high-quality prints. The heat press and printers deserve the most of your attention since they are costly equipment and play a vital role in the printing process. Therefore, you need to do a regular check on the accessories attached to these machines.
The rubber pad is the most exposed part of a heat press that gets spoiled with ink. You can protect the rubber pad by securing it with a Teflon sheet or paper towel. As for the printer, you should follow the guidelines on the manual or take help of an expert to avoid clogging the nozzle or drying the ink.