Sublimination (and other misconceptions)

Those of us who work in garment decoration probably think that sublimation is a familiar decoration technique and is easily understood,  but that isn’t always so.  Even people within the business don’t always know the proper terminology or details when it comes to what sublimation is and how it works.   If you’re new to sublimation,  or simply wondering what it’s all about,  here are a few things you should know.

First,  it’s sublimation.   It’s not sublimination or any of the other misspellings or mispronunciations I’ve seen and heard in the past.   Sublimation could, I suppose, be called transfer printing,  although that would tend to confuse it with standard inkjet transfers, so it’s probably best just to call it sublimation.

Second, sublimation is not direct to garment printing.  Direct to garment happens when a design is printed directly on a garment.   Sublimation is a transfer,  which means the design is printed to paper first and then transferred via heat and pressure to the garment or item to be decorated.

Third,  sublimation will not work on dark garments.   Sublimation ink works with light colored garments only and works best with a white garment or substrate.    Please keep in mind that printing a design on a colored garment will have an impact on the colors in the design.

Fourth, sublimation will not work on cotton.  There are people who sell sprays which they claim will allow you to sublimate non polyester materials, but it is often difficult to get these sprays to coat evenly.   The best way to get a sellable sublimated item is to start with a poly garment or factory created poly coated substrate.

Fifth,  you can’t sublimate using just any paper.   Sublimation ink requires sublimation paper to be at its best.    You can learn more about sublimation paper in our post Why Paper Type is Important.

Finally, the biggest misconception of all,  sublimation is difficult.    I’m not going to say sublimation is the easiest thing you’ll ever do,  but it isn’t as difficult as many people think.   If you’re familiar with managing artwork,  have some skill at using a computer and are willing to make a few mistakes before you start turning out prefect prints,  you can easily learn to sublimate and be successful at doing so.   The chief thing you need is a willingness to try something new and a good partner who can help with both supplies and knowledge.   EnMart stands ready to be that partner.  All you have to supply is the willingness to try.

 

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