The Quest for Fire … er … Sublimation Paper, Part 2

By Tom Chambers, EnMart’s Sublimation Expert

As I mentioned in part one, EnMart puts sublimation paper into three categories.

1. High Release

2. Low, or Standard Release

3. Hybrid (combines properties of both)

High Release sublimation papers typically require much less time in the press to release the majority of their sublimation dye into the substrate.  This decreases your production time, and can increase your margins.  These papers work very well for lower dpi prints of artwork on fabrics or other “soft goods”, and may also provide slightly superior color transfer.  The trade off is that they typically don’t dry as fast, so if you are printing large numbers of sheets on your printer and allow the sheets to stack up, you may experience some smearing of the ink as one sheet feeds out on top of another, or even “tracking” where the feed wheels on your printer function like a blotter and pick up and deposit “tracks” of ink. You may also experience more instances of “blow out” on hard goods like ceramics and FRP, if the dye is released so quickly that the coating cannot absorb it at the same rate.  This class of paper may also be more susceptible to curling, printer jams, humidity, and other environmental issues.

Low or Standard Release papers usually have just the opposite properties.  They dry very quickly, so there is never any issue with smearing, and they work very very well on all hard goods like ceramics and FRP with little if any “blow out”.  On the other hand, they require much more time in the heat press to get the dye out.  Cutting the time down even a little can cause colors to be less vibrant than what you would get from a high release paper.  Long amounts of time in the heat press can also cause yellowing or other damage to coatings and fabrics.  However, this class of paper is virtually immune to paper jams or other environmental issues, and works equally well in a variety of printers and environments.

As you may have guessed by now, Hybrid papers combine some of the properties of both High Release and Low Release papers.  There are a variety of hybrid papers out there, which run the gamut from the high release end with minimal smearing, to the low release end with more time required but better color.  In my opinion, hybrid papers are the best for all around use on all substrates.

I chose EnMart’s MPRES-II paper after a lot of problems with other sublimation papers and a long search and extensive testing.  MPRES-II is a general purpose hybrid paper, and is suitable for use in virtually all applications.  The time required in the heat press is closer to a high release than a low release paper, but still releases excellent quality color while drying almost instantly when printed so there is no smearing or tracking.  Enmart’s parent company uses this very paper to produce large numbers of sublimated patches for the rental uniform industry on a daily basis.

Ultimately, the choice of sublimation paper should be dictated by your needs and your production.  The final choice is all about what you need for what you are doing.  EnMart hopes to aid you in making that choice through posts like this one.

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