Sublimation Paper and Its Use

Aaron Aubert

Can you use sublimation paper on any printer without worrying about damaging it? It s a very risky project and is usually not a wise idea if you do not have a professional printer. However, if you have an inkjet printer that is able to work well with sublimation paper, you can safely do this as long as you properly match the sublimation paper to the paper to be printed. If your inkjet printer is not compatible, it will most likely not work at all.

There are two main methods of using sublimation paper; the first is called heat transfer printing. This process is the easiest to perform and the best suited for large volumes. The heat transfer paper is placed on top of a piece of glass which has a small hole in it. The glass sits on top of the sublimation film and as the film cools, the glass becomes hot and seals the heat transfer paper to the paper below. The glass needs to be covered with more heat transfer paper while the upper part cools until it again becomes hot and this continues until the entire sheet is cool.

Most printers are capable of this kind of printing; however, the quality of the finished printing can be greatly improved if sublimation is used. The reason is that using this method allows many more wrinkles to be printed and therefore creates much better images. The quality of prints is much better than the standard printing processes and sublimation is the only way that most large-scale companies print.

The most common place for sublimation transfer printing is in the clothing industry. Most pieces of clothing are tailored to have the correct fit, so that the end consumer always receives the perfect product. If this technology was used for regular clothing, then the quality would increase dramatically. One benefit of sublimation printing is that the colours are bolder, because the dye colours are able to stand out more when printed on a thin sublimation paper substrate.

Another popular application of sublimation is onto clothing to create photographic products. This can either be an image that is printed directly onto the garment, or it can be a series of small images that are transferred onto the garment by a heating process. Most of the time, the clothing will have a collar and the photo will either be printed on the collar, around the arms, around the legs, or around the neckline.

Heat transfer printers are also used, mostly with digital printing on fabric. The process is quite simple; the image is applied to a heat press, which transfers the image onto the sublimation substrate. A dye-sublimation printer is then used to transfer the design onto the fabric. This type of printer works best with thick garments that have a great amount of detail. Some printers can even transfer an image and text from a computer file onto a solid piece of fabric, if required.

Sublimation printing is not the only way of printing documents, as a process known as copier roll scanning can be used to produce very high quality prints. This is a more expensive option than sublimation but often produces higher quality results. The technique is similar to standard copier paper; a light emitting diode (LED) is used to produce the image onto the substrate, and then it is passed through a heat-tunnel onto the sublimation printer.

Laser printers are capable of printing on a wide range of materials such as plastics, carbon fibre, melamine, fibreboard and others. The ink produced by a laser printer is similar to that produced by sublimation, but with a faster rate of speed and greater ink coverage. The increased speed of a laser printer enables it to process large volumes of paper whilst using much less ink than most inkjet printers.