A Beginner’s Guide to Sublimation Printing

Many people these days are looking for ways to create their own custom products. The internet revolution has made it possible for anyone to sell online with very little or no upfront cost. Sublimation printing is a great way to start a hobby or a business that allows you to utilize your untapped creativity and business savvy.

What is sublimation printing?

Also known as “dye sublimation printing,” this process is a popular method for decorating fabrics and other materials with a special type of printer that transfers color art designs onto a T-shirt or other product. After the dye is printed onto the product, it must be treated with heat and pressure to “sublimate” the dye into a gas that is absorbed by the fabric.

What do you need to get started?

If you want to create or customize your own products, there are several items that you will need. Most home hobbyists print designs onto a transfer paper and then apply the design onto fabric with heat and pressure. Since there is no white sublimation ink that can show up on dark fabrics, white fabrics provide the best results. The essential items for the process are a sublimation printer, a heat press and a computer for creating the designs. Other items you might need include heat gloves to protect your hands, adhesive spray and heat-resistant tape.

If you’re creating posters, signage or artwork, you will need special paper that is designed to withstand the heat of the sublimation printing process. If you are customizing clothing with sublimation designs, you should use a lint roller on the fabric before applying the design. The software that you use to create your designs can be any mainstream photo editing or art design application.

How to do sublimation printing

After you have obtained the necessary supplies and equipment, the first step is to create a design with the software of your choice. If you have direct-to-fabric equipment, you can skip the process of printing onto transfer paper. Otherwise, after you create your digital design file, load the transfer paper into your sublimation printer, and print it out. Next, place the transfer paper with the design onto your T-shirt or other light-colored clothing, and apply heat and pressure until the dye is completely transferred to the textile material.

Sublimation printing is a simple way for people to design their own custom T-shirts, hats or other textile products at home. Sublimation is also more durable than inkjet printing for creating signage or posters. The only drawback is that you cannot print onto dark fabrics with this method. The cost of starting your own sublimation printing business is relatively low. It is even possible to use your current inkjet printer in some cases if you buy special sublimation dye cartridges for your printer.