What is sublimation, or all over printing?
Sublimation Printing is a special form of printing that uses heat to transfer dye onto fabric. This process most often lays one color at a time and as the printer rollers move, the thermal printing head heats the dye into a gas which then diffuses onto the printing medium, like fabric, and solidifies. The cycle is repeated with the next color. When the process is complete all of the colors have been laid and heated into the fibers of the fabric. In order to protect the dye from washing out or coming off with handling or warm temperatures the final layer is a laminate coating that is heated on top to contain the diffused dye and pressed down to adhere with pressure. This new technology allows for clearer imaging with crispers colors in high-end commercial printing.
In the world of textiles, sublimation printing is most commonly used to print on polyester or other synthetic fabrics. Applying this new printing technology to t-shirts is becoming increasingly popular as there are a lot of advantages to this method. First of all, because the dye is turned into a gas and then settles into the fabric, the design is essentially printed into the fibers of the fabric. With the addition of the laminate coating these printed designs are permanent and will not peel off or fade. The brilliance of the colors is also increased because of the bonding to the fabric and the application of colors in separate processes. The continuous tones, as the colors are called in the industry, create more realistic copying and printing of realistic images like photographs.
The most important advantage to sublimation printing is the fact that it can print all over the entire item and prints to every edge. For this reason, sublimation printing is commonly referred to as ‘all over printing’. This new technology makes it easy to create eye-catching large designs that don’t require being centered onto the t-shirt or apparel piece. Suddenly the options for t-shirt printing are endless as the entire t-shirt is available to accept printing. Sublimation printing is now the best option because of its endless graphic design potential and strength and resistance to wear or fading. Whatever you have printed with sublimation printing is sure to stay and retain its clean look and brilliant colors.