What is Sublimation Printing?
In short, sublimation printing is transferring specific or sublimation dyes to a transfer sheet that is then imprinted or “sublimated” into textiles or other compatible materials by adding heat. The ink actually infuses into the shirt, fabric, mug, bag, phone case, etc. and creates a seamless design. The heat transfers are full color and essentially permanent. There is also no cracking or peeling like you sometimes get when applying iron-on vinyl to shirts. There is also no thickness added with sublimation since the ink from the transfer sheets actually embeds into the poly surface of the material.
Can You Sublimate Anything?
No. You need to use products that are specifically designed to receive sublimation ink. These products have a type of poly coating that the dye can infuse into. When it comes to fabric or shirts, you can use most light-colored polyester shirts or shirts with a higher polyester ratio. The higher the polyester count, the brighter the ink will come out.
How to Begin
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick or create a design to sublimate onto a blank material. Sublimation works a lot like iron-on vinyl, in that it will transfer the mirror image. If you are simply applying a photo or image without any words, then flipping the image before printing it is probably not a big deal. But for anything that has words on needs to be in a certain direction, you’ll need to mirror or flip the image before printing so it transfers correctly.
How to Press a Sublimation Printing
In order to apply the dye sublimation image to a blank material, you’ll need constant high heat. A regular iron will not work! You’ll need a heat press or a Cricut EasyPress 2 (also available in the Maker Space) that is able to heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and provide constant even pressure. Always check your sublimation paper and blank material for recommended temperature and time settings.
The Maker Space sells mugs, puzzles, koozies, keychains, and more that are specifically made for sublimation printing. If you use our materials, the printing cost is free. If you bring in your own sublimation blanks, printing starts at $2 per foot. Maker Space Price List
Have more questions? Visit the Maker Space or call 563-589-4225 ext. 2246.