Dye sublimation printing is in some ways similar to inkjet printing. A commercial inkjet printer is usually at least 30 inches wide. If they exceed over 16 ft. in width, they can be used as dye sublimation printers; though not interchangeably without flushing the feed lines and a few other technical fixes that should be done before they can be converted from a type of ink to a dye set ink. The four color or CMYK printing process which is done with ink on an inkjet printer tends to use the 4CP ink set CMYK or cyan, black, yellow and magenta. This is in contrast to the dye set which is used while printing for dye sub printing.


The dye set is known as CMYO or cyan, yellow, magenta overprint clear in which the dye is printed to a treated transfer paper. This becomes black in color when the heat transfer process is undertaken. Let us start by discussing what dye sublimation printers are not used for. They are not used for fabrics made of natural fiber such as linen, bamboo or cotton, or direct to fabric printing or what is known as direct sublimation printing (which is really inkjet to fabric printing) or DTF direct to fabric printing which is also known as direct to substrate or DTS printing.


Typically, dye sublimation is not used for materials such as vinyl or PVC (polyvinylchloride) decal stock or banner stuff because inkjet printing can work fine as surface print for such materials. Dye sublimation is a process that is not used for hard plastics such as polyethylene or styrene. Other rigid stuff such as heavy plastics or MDO plywood is also printed on the flatbed UV inkjet digital printers.


What Dye Sublimation is Used For


The dye sublimation printing process can print many items such as metal, cups or wood plaques and awards with a special polymeric coating. You can also print fabrics with the dye sub print. Polymer-based fabrics like polyester or nylon can be printed through the heat transfer from treated transfer paper by printing a mirror image on the paper, matching it with the fabric and sending it through the hot pressure rollers. The process transfers the dye into a gas and fills the heat opened polymer cells with color. After the pressure is gone, it closes around the dye, leaving the color permanently as a part of the fabric.


It not only leads to a durable color, but also creates continuous tones of photographic quality that are more colorful and brighter than an inkjet printer. Printed fabrics can be used on L banner stands, X banner stands, adjustable or retractable banner stands, teardrop banners, pop-up banner displays, retail displays, feather banners, trade show displays, blade banners, garments, hanging banner systems and anything else that is made of fabric for commercial or non-commercial use.


Can You Print Direct-To-Textile Dye Sublimation Printed Fabric for Flags and Banners?


Better dyes are now suitable for external use, and several good choices are available for polyester fabrics for exterior usage. The various kinds of outdoor materials such as banners and flags are used on a daily basis for advertising products and services. Various businesses use them in the form of pop-out banners, basic banners, beach flags and teardrop flags.


You can even print rigid substrates with the help of dye sublimation. These methods can help print on promotional items such as license plates, snowboards and coffee mugs. As the surfaces of these items are not polymer based such as polyester fabrics, he surfaces of these items should be treated with a specific polymer coating so that the items are able to accept the sublimation dyes.


Due to the complex nature of these affordable post card prints surfaces and other hard items, each of the items needs differing temperatures, dwell times as well as pressure. The result also depends on the variation of the heat presses which are provided for these products. After the printed paper is sublimated to the treated hard substrate, the image becomes a part of the surface so that no surface protection or clear coating is needed. The image is permanent and durable and does not wash or rub off. Hence, this printing method is being favored by companies which depend on flashy graphics for selling their products.


Previously, various kinds of dye sublimation transfer papers were required to transfer the dye to the substrate from the paper. With the new methods, hybrid transfer papers have been produced that allow images to be transferred to fabric as well as rigid substrates which further simplifies production. With the evolution of this printing method, there are high chances that dye sublimation printing will be regarded as one of the best forms of the printed products for rigid and fabric alike. New breakthroughs also explore the potential of dye sublimation to be used on displays and printed signs that require long term use.


Glass Surfaces: Yes, you can use the dye sub printing for glass surfaces if it is treated with special polymer coating. When they are heated and pressed with the dye sublimation printed transfer paper, the polymers will expand, turning the dye into gas. It is then infused within the polymers. With the cooling of the polymers, the colored gases are locked in them, making them become a permanent part of the glass surface.


Small Format and Large Format Sublimation


Both the methods of small and large format work in the same way, although they are used for different products. In wide format dye sublimation printing, fabric displays and banners are mostly used. In dye sublimation printing and the small format heat presses, more specialized items are printed such as coffee cups, license plates, glass items, customized mouse pads and more. With the coming in of the new hybrid transfer papers, a number of small items can be printed on wide format papers and then separated for being used on smaller heat presses in case there is more than a single unit that is available for print.