Sublimation is a digital printing method for a variety of hard surface products and also includes printing onto polyester t-shirts. Because there is such a huge selection of items that can be printed with sublimation, it is a very attractive printing option.
What Do You Need To Get Started In Sublimation?
You will need an inkjet printer (Ricoh or Epson), sublimation inks, sublimation paper, and a heat press. In addition, you will need a white or light colored substrate that is either coated with a polyester coating or made of polyester fabric for sublimation to work.
Inkjet printers that are compatible with Sawgrass (a major distributor of sublimation ink) inks include: Ricoh GX7000, Ricoh GX3300, Epson 1900, Epson 4880, Epson 1800, and many older models that are discontinued.
If you are just getting started on sublimation, it is recommended that you buy a complete packaged system as that will save you a little bit of money compared to buying the components separately.
What Can You Print With Sublimation?
Anything that is flat, white or light colored and is either polyester coated or made of polyester fabric. You can also print on mugs, shot glasses, etc if you use a mug press or a mug wrap with an oven. Here is a small list of popular items that sublimation can be used:
Ceramic mugs | Water bottles | Coasters | Metals | Magnetic sheets | Plaques | Name badges | License plates | Car flags | Mouse pads | Fabric puzzles | Ceramic tiles | Glass tiles | Poker chips | 100% polyester shirts and more!
The Unisub catalog has a huge selection of high quality polyester coated items for you to choose from as well.
Why Choose Sublimation?
Here is a list of the advantages that come with sublimation printing
- Sublimation is one of the very few methods you can print full colored images onto hard surfaces.
- It has a relatively low learning curve compared with screen printing.
- Almost unlimited colors to choose from. Thousands of colors can be produced with sublimation (even if you choose a 4 color printer). And it doesn’t cost extra to add additional colors to your design.
- Same cost to print one item or 1000 items. So no need for minimum orders, and perfect for 1-up items and promotional items for small businesses, schools, charities, sports teams, parties, reunions, and many more!
- Complete customization! The advantage of digital sublimation printing is that no plates are required, so it is ideal for customizing designs with changing elements such as names, numbers, etc.
- Sublimation is quick and easy to produce, allowing for same day or same hour printing, as well as on demand printing that reduces risk and wastage.
With every printing method there will be disadvantages and so here are a few…
- Substrates need to be polyester coated or made of polyester fabric.
- Substrates need to be white or light colored. You cannot print onto dark or black colored items.
- Printers tend to clog if not used for extended periods of time. With the introduction of Ricoh printers, the clogging risk has been significantly reduced. However we still recommend doing a nozzle check once a week.
- Sublimation inks are relatively expensive compared with OEM inks. This will need to be factored in when pricing your products.
- Color Management issues. With the installation of the PowerDriver, color management problems have been significantly reduced. As with all printers, color management issues will vary depending on the graphic/photograph.
With all the advantages of sublimation, it’s obvious why sublimation has become a very popular method with digital decorators!