Dye Sublimation Printing
- Parent Category: Support
- Published Date
First off, what do you want to print?
There’s two ways to go on this one — if you’re producing something that requires a lot of showthrough, say, flags or two-way soft signage then printing using a Mimaki Tx400 or JV5-320DS Series will yield the necessary results. Both printers have a trough under the print area allowing excess ink to clear the reverse of the fabric without marking off. A coated fabric will be required (in order to hold the dot) but it is a very effective way of printing to many different types of stable polyester.
However, for a lot of sublimation printing where the fabric has some stretch — apparel and sportswear, for example as well as for when producing promotional products like mousemats, mugs and such like — printing to sublimation paper is the most accurate and easy to use.
What’s so special about the paper?
Low cockle: Load ink up where heavy saturation is required and the paper won’t start to cockle too early on. This is important for a lot of sportswear printers where dark, saturated colours are prevalent.
High Yield: Achieve bright vibrant colours without leaving too much trace on the paper. This keeps your ink usage, and therefore costs, down — thus minimising waste.
Fast Drying: Keep throughput high — a rugby shirt can be output on a Mimaki TS5 in just 2 minutes, so fast drying paper is vital!
Next step: Inks.
You can’t just print to the paper with any old ink — believe us, we’ve tried! Mimaki’s sublimation or ‘disperse’ ink, as they are often known, have special properties (see below) and are waterbased and designed to print direct to polyester or via sublimation paper.
And a heatpress?
The final part of the process is to either press the fabric (when printing direct) or the paper with the fabric when subliming. At temperatures of between 180° and 220° the ink changes from a liquid to a gas and releases from the paper and then attaches itself to the polyester. The print is then washfast and lightfast and in the case of a print onto fabric, doesn’t alter the handle whatsoever.