What on Earth Is Dye Sublimation?

When designing a display or a banner, it’s really important to make the right choice about printing process. You need to know how your printing choices will affect the look, feel, cost, and lead time of your product.

The rich color of the fabric is due to the dye sublimation process.

Of the many options for printing, one of the most interesting ones is dye sublimation. If you listened carefully in high school chemistry, you may remember that sublimation is the process of solid state materials changing into gas  without becoming a liquid in between– this is the essence of dye sublimation printing. Dye sublimation printers use heat to transfer dyes onto plastic, paper, or fabric without the dye ever going through a liquid phase. Consequently, one of the key benefits of dye sublimation is that prints are dry the moment they leave the printer, and there’s never an opportunity for ink blots or spots to damage your prints. Overall, the image quality of sublimated product is exceptionally clear, bright, and vivid.

Dye sublimation is an especially popular process for fabric printing, because the extreme heat penetrates fabric fibers and allows for a highly detailed and saturated image.

Here’s another example of a banner we’ve produced at Ardent, where dye sublimation was the best printing choice to allow for rich, accurate color:

According to Steve, our on-staff dye sub expert, this process is also excellent for personalized gifts or promotional products, for two reasons:

1) The process is hand-made, one-by-one, so it’s easy to apply unique logos or designs.

2) Besides fabric, dye sublimation is commonly used on metals and ceramics. The process makes products washable and microwave safe, so it’s a good choice for something like company mugs.

Still have questions about dye sublimation? Leave them in the comments!

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