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A Step-by-Step Guide To Sublimation Printing On Products

A Step-by-Step Guide To Sublimation Printing On Products

In the printing industry, there are plenty of ways to customise products. But if you’re looking for high-quality, long-lasting results, sublimation printing could be your go-to solution.

What Is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a digital method that utilises heat and ink or dye to transfer designs onto various products. This process is often used on polyester fabric, canvas, plastic, ceramic, and other special coating materials. The result is a vibrant, full-colour print and sharp images that won’t fade or peel over time. 

This can be an excellent option for businesses and individuals looking to create custom-printed products that are creative and will last for years.

If you’re interested in learning how to sublimate print on products, this guide will walk you through the procedure step-by-step.

1. Choose The Right Product

Before you start anything, it’s essential to select the right product first. This is especially since not all materials are compatible with sublimation printing. For example, materials like cotton or wool may not work well as the fibres don’t bind to the dye easily. And when washed, the ink may easily fade or be washed away.

But on the other hand, polyester fabrics like towels work well for this method because they have a natural affinity for dyes. Ceramic mugs and plates are also excellent choices as they have a hard, non-porous surface. The same goes for plastic, such as phone cases and tumblers. 

To determine if a product is suitable for this printing type, you can check the manufacturer’s specifications or do a quick research. You can also find online retailers like Bursali Towels that sell products specifically designed for sublimation printing. This way, you can be confident that your chosen material will work with your desired printing process.

2. Prepare The Design

Once you’ve selected the appropriate material, it’s time to prepare your design. If you’re starting from scratch, you can utilise any software to design and create the artwork you wish to use. But if you already have a layout, ensure the file is in a vector format so that you can easily resize it without losing quality.

Additionally, it’s best to convert it to a high-resolution (300 dpi or higher) portable network graphic (PNG) file, especially for images or logos. This can help prevent pixelation and ensure that your design comes out clear and sharp.

If you’re unsure how to create a design, there are plenty of online tutorials and resources for your references. There’s also the option to hire a professional designer to do the job for you. The goal is to end up with a design that you’re happy with and meets your requirements.

3. Set Up The Sublimation Printer 

After preparing your product and design, setting up your sublimation printer is the next step. Connect it to your computer via USB cable if you’re using an external printer. Load the paper into the input tray according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Meanwhile, if you’re using an all-in-one printer, ensure it has installed sublimation ink cartridges.

It’s also worth noting that the selection of substrate, or what you’re printing on, is just as important as the design and printer settings. For instance, if you’re printing on a white-coloured shirt, you’ll need to pick a light-coloured substrate. This will prevent the colours from getting muddy or washed out. It’s one of the fundamental steps in sublimation printing as it’ll ensure that the finished product looks its best.

4. Print The Design

Now, it’s finally time to print your design. Start by opening the design file on your computer. Select the “Print” from the file menu. This will open the print dialogue box where you can adjust the settings. From here, you’ll need to select your sublimation printer as the device you want to use. Once done, click the “Preferences” or “Properties” button to open the printer settings.

After that, you’ll need to select the “Media Type” or “Paper Type” that matches the substrate you’re using. You can then adjust the other settings according to your preferences, such as the scale, orientation, print quality, and resolution. Click “OK” to close the dialogue box and “Print” in the original print dialogue box to start printing.

5. Heat Press The Design

Once the design is printed, you can transfer it to your product using a heat press device. Place the material on the press so that the area you want to print on is facing up. Then, lay the substrate on top of it. Make sure that the design is positioned correctly before closing the device. 

Close the press and set it to the correct temperature and time. For instance, you’d set the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and the time to 60 seconds for shirt products. When the time is up, open the heat press and carefully peel back the substrate to reveal your printed design.

How does it work? The heat press essentially causes the ink to turn into gas. As it cools down, it becomes solid again and is absorbed by the fabric. You can also reprint the design and try again if it doesn’t turn out as you wanted.

Conclusion

There you have it – step by step guide for sublimation printing. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create a unique design perfect for gift or selling or even your personal use. Just remember to take your time and experiment with the different settings until you find what works best for your needs.

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