Sublimation is defined as the process of change from a solid to a gas state without passing through a liquid phase. When heated, sublimation dyes bind permanently with the molecules of the substrate. Under the right pressure and temperature condition, the substrate molecules open up and allow the gaseous dye molecules to become trapped upon cooling. This color “trapping” results in a nearly undetectable “hand” or sensation of any physical change of the substrate. Dye sublimation shirts retain the original feel of their fabric, breathability and wicking characteristics. Non-textile substrates – mugs, cellphone cases, photo-imaging wooden or metal plates, etc. – show their color designs in unusual vibrancy and color retention. Since color is now also more than superimposed layer, the design is also generally better protected against abrasion.
The sublimation works on polyester, either as a fabric or as a coating on non-textile substrates. The process does not work on cotton except when the cotton is spun in combination of a substantial percentage of synthetic material. However, since only the polyester fabric traps the sublimation dye, there is a direct relationship between the vivacity and longevity of the images and their synthetic content.
Dye sublimation inks are translucent. As a result, printing on dark substrates can only occur if printing on a white underbase (in the case of fabric) or on a white panel (in the case on non-textile).
Over the past 20 years, the use of inkjet printers to create sublimation dye transfers has grown exponentially, partly because of its growing popularity, but also part of the declining price of dedicated desktop-size sublimation printers. Popularization of the technique has created such a demand that these printers have now become accessible to any small business willing to expend into this field.
Key among sublimation’s advantages is the ability to produce accurate colors, fine detail and durable prints.
Sublimation printing is an indirect process which requires a printer capable of running sublimation ink, a computer with the appropriate printer drivers, and a heat source. Small format presses come in small sizes starting at 9 x 12”, 15 x 15”, 16 x 20”, and in mid-size of 20 x 25”. For sublimation on 3D-substrates, our Mug Wraps in combination with a convection oven or our SubliPro sublimation oven are particularly well designed to do the job. Whether using a press or a Sublimation oven with Mug wraps, four variables are particularly important: adequate sublimation dwell time, sufficient pressure, equal heat distribution and appropriate temperature. Trust only equipment that provide all 4 parameters in a controllable and uniform way. HIX equipment is designed to provide all these parameters within very narrow tolerances, which is critical for success. Controllable time and temperature, properly and evenly distributed pressure and temperature are built in to all our product and are the reason for their generational popularity.
Pick a press and/or oven that fits the size of your current and future needs, preparing your business to handle either flat and textile products, 3-dimensional products or both. Our sales team will professionally assist you with your selection.
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