Over the years that we’ve been doing sublimation, we’ve learned a lot. Some of what we’ve learned needs to be explained in detail, and is best suited to a longer blog post. Other tips and tricks are just small bits of information that don’t necessarily merit their own post, but could still be useful. Because we still want to share these tips and tricks with all of you, I’ve created the Sublimation Tip Sheet. These posts will appear whenever it seems necessary, and will include various sublimation and ChromaBlast tips and tricks which will help you get the most out of your printers, inks, papers and heat presses.
Tip 1: Sublimation Paper Storage
Properly storing your sublimation paper is important, and can significantly affect the results you get when you print and press. Most paper can absorb humidity, and depending on the coating, some absorb a lot more than others. As a general rule, best practice is to store your sublimation paper sealed either in the original packaging or in a reclosable bag in a dark area in a climate controlled office or other area. Moderate humidity in the 40% range and temperature around 70 degrees with low or no light, is usually considered ideal storage conditions. Realistically however, these conditions may not be practical, so just try to get as close to that type of environment as you can reasonably achieve, and you should be good to go.
Tip 2: Heat Press Temperature
A heat press with an even temperature is a vital part of sublimation success, but not all heat presses heat evenly. To make sure that your heat press does not have hot spots or cold areas which could have an impact on the evenness of your sublimation print, check your press frequently with a pyrometer. Taking a few seconds to check the temperature of your press could save you a lot of frustration and wasted blanks.
Tip 3: The items you sublimate should be Polyester or Poly Coated
This seems like a pretty elementary fact, but I see this question on forums all the time. For best results, whatever you sublimate should be 100% polyester fabric or should have a poly coating. If you sublimate a garment that is some percentage polyester and some percentage of another material, the sublimation ink will only bond with the polyester fibers. This can lead to a patchy, faded graphic. Attempting to sublimate a mug or a mousepad that does not have a poly coating will most likely not work at all.
If you have a sublimation or ChromaBlast tip or trick that you’d like to share, please leave it in the comments or e-mail me at kristine dot shreve at myenmart dot com.