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Sublimation Printing and Creases

Sublimation printing or the all over t shirt printing method is hugely popular. Dye sub printing has replaced the screen belt printing method to achieve graphics that extend beyond traditional screen print size limitations. We don’t see any slowing down for the demand for this product for the foreseeable future as the technology continues to evolve and present more efficient ways to produce prints that pop with color and more flexibility for the substrate the inks will penetrate. That being said, one of the more frequent concerns for resellers of dye sub prints and the printing companies that offer the service is the creasing or folds that appear on the final dye sub printed t shirt. Unfortunately, when you start with a pre sewn product, the creasing is 100% unavoidable. Customers will frequently ask us to guarantee their product will not have folds or creases, and this type of guarantee is impossible if you start off with a substrate (garment) that is already assembled. Most of the creasing will happen near the shoulders, under the sleeves and sometimes right on the front panel or back panel of the shirt. To explain why this happens, it helps to understand the process.

  1. A transfer paper with the graphic is printed using a specialized sublimation printer.
  2. The transfer paper is placed on top of the shirt while the shirt is laying down flat on a sublimation press.
  3. The sublimation press applies a huge amount of pressure at more than 350 degrees, sandwiching the paper and the shirt together for a specified amount of time, allowing the inks from the paper to vaporize and fuse onto the shirt.

During the compression process, the shirt will crease in the most vulnerable areas, such as the arm pit and shoulders. The dye sub inks will not penetrate where the shirt folded or creased. Hence, final products will have white marks.
I tell customers to remember that dye sub is an art and as a result, no two shirts will be exactly the same. But, that is kind of the beauty behind the method. The uniqueness of each piece should be a selling point, not considered a flaw.

There are certain things that we do to minimize creasing.

  • Ironing the shirts by hand to make sure they lay as flat as possible prior to pressing.
  • Recommending certain brand shirts that because of their silhouettes, tend to crease less than others.
  • We are currently working on a library of heat proof veneer templates that we are cutting to size and style that we will use as an insert prior to printing, that will stretch the shirt as much as possible (without causing distortion of the print) to reduce the incidence of creasing.
  • Working the crease marks into the art to camouflage their visibility.


Screen Printing Screen Printing

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