What is Dye Sublimation Printing? The Definitive Guide [2022]

Sublimation printing is an evolving technology, and dye sublimation printing in specific is on the rise nowadays.

People are making it an in-house run start-up with little or less investment. Though large industry houses or big players are there in the market, this field still has many scopes to grow.

I know you are eager to dive into this. So, let’s get started
Dye sublimation uses heat transfer to apply the image to items. It is most commonly used for clothing, mugs, and t-shirts.

We are sure you want to learn more. The best part? We have all the information for you to get started with dye sublimation, along with business ideas.

What is dye sublimation printing?

Sublimation is a digital printing process in which an image is applied to an object by heat transfer. It is also known as digital sublimation.

It is often used to decorate items with sublime surfaces such as clothing, posters, and banners.

What is needed for dye sublimation printing?

  • Sublimation printer: A sublimation printer is an ordinary Epson printer in which sublimation ink is filled. I described in more detail in the article which printer to choose for sublimation printing. The main thing is to take a printer with a drop of 3-4 P.L.; due to this, there is less chance of clogging nozzles. And yet, so that the printer “does not dry out,” set up the automatic printing of the printer.
  • Sublimation ink: The selection of sublimation inks is quite large. Some companies offer their inks with a ready-made color profile for your printer. And this greatly facilitates the task. I cannot compare different manufacturers of sublimation inks because I have always used the same ink.
  • Heat press: Here it would be best if you decided on what you will type in the first couple. Heat presses are flat – for puzzles. Also, heat presses are for T-shirts, lace, caps, plates, covers, and so on. Heat presses are divided into manual and automatic, and the latter are much more expensive.
  • Sublimation paper: Sublimation paper does not absorb ink. If you suddenly run out of sublimation paper, you can print with matte paper. However, this should be done as a last resort; the picture can be very different.
  • Thermal tape: Here is a detailed description of what thermal tape is. In principle, you can do without it, especially if you are printing on a T-shirt.

But on mugs, I still recommend using it. There will be much fewer rejects when sublimation printing on cups.

The equipment is used in printing houses, photo studios. It can print advertising brochures, souvenirs, magazines, photographs, posters, plastic cards.

Dye-sublimation printers have a wide range of applications due to their versatility and ability to work with various materials.

The dye sublimation printer is suitable for printing on a variety of substrate

  • Paper
  • Cloth
  • Plastic
  • Ceramics
  • Glass
  • Metal and so on

However, there are some limitations. So, sublimation ink does not adhere well to natural fabrics. At the same time, they are ideal for synthetics.

When working with glass or stone, preliminary surface treatment with a special polymer is required.

How does dye sublimation printing works?

In some printing processes, dye-sublimation printers have replaced inkjet and laser printers.

Advanced equipment gives a better image due to a different operating principle. So, inkjet technology prints with liquid ink and laser – with dry powder.

The new hues are created by superimposing the four primary colors: cyan, yellow, magenta, and black.

These points can shift, blur, which degrades the quality of the picture. In an inkjet printer, ink often dries up; there is a problem with mixing powders in a laser printer.

The dye sublimation printer is free from these disadvantages. For printing, special ribbons with a dye of three colors (cyan, magenta, yellow) are used.

The dye changes from solid to gaseous under the influence of temperature (the device is equipped with a heating element).

In this case, the stage of transformation into a liquid is excluded. The process is called sublimation, hence the name of the technique that uses this technology.

Dye-sublimation printing: Things to pay attention

  • Drop volume (measured in picoliters): You will be able to avoid nozzle clogging if you print on a printer with a drop of 4 pl. It will have no effect on print quality.
    However, there is no need to waste time cleaning the print head. Such equipment will last a long period and will not break down. The droplet size on the DGI POSEIDON printer, for example, ranges from 5 to 18 pl.
  • The number of printheads: The print head is the component of the printer that controls the quality and speed of printing. The smoothness of color transitions, the clarity of printouts, and the cost-effectiveness of ink use all rely on it. The number of printheads determines the quickest print speed at the highest resolution. The Roland XT-640 printer, for example, has twin printheads for increased productivity. Each one has eight channels and is staggered. It enables you to produce high-resolution photos with photographic precision, smooth gradients, and brilliant colors. The number of color channels: Colorful graphics may be created with only the four main CMYK colors. Some printers offer six or eight color modes; the Roland RT-640 dye-sublimation printer, for example, produces in four or eight colors.
  • You can generate detailed photos with rich colors and deep blacks in 4-color (CMYK) mode. Images with vivid orange and deep purple colors can be obtained in the 8-color (CMYKLcLmOrVi) mode. Inks with light cyan and light magenta assist print smooth gradients and skin tones. Yellow and pink fluorescent inks are also available for the production of garments (including sportswear) and effective light signs.
  • Print width: If you are planning to create flags, banners, and other large format products, then choose the printer with the maximum print width. The DGI HERCULES sublimation printer with a total print width of 1900 mm is ideal for these purposes.
  • Additional functions: For example, Consider the method of direct printing on fabrics. You don’t have to pick between dye sublimation and a direct printer; instead, get a flexible 2-in-1 solution right now. The RT-640M printer from Roland is one of a kind. Flags, banners, and other double-sided goods may be produced on a variety of materials using direct printing on fabrics.
  • RIP Ergosoft software included: Ergosoft is considered the best program for printing textiles requiring a unique work algorithm.

In the program, you can make preliminary calculations for ink consumption, adjust the color palette, set the scale parameters, and use other individual settings.

What are the Pros and Cons of dye sublimation printing?

Although sublimation equipment is costly, the following benefits and drawbacks justify their purchase:


  • Printing of long-lasting pictures – the dye enters the cloth deeply, and the protective layer seals the pattern, preventing fading and damage.
  • Better picture quality at lower resolutions than laser and inkjet technologies.
  • It’s simple to use.
  • Most versions come with screens that show operational information while working with various materials.


  • The expensive cost of the apparatus and consumables, particularly sublimation paper, is a big downside.
  • Another problem of sublimation printers was the dye’s susceptibility to UV light.
  • The fabrics must be 100 percent polyester, with the exception of non-textiles having a specific polyester coating.
  • If the print heads are not used regularly, they may clog.
  • They are confined to bright or white print areas,
  • Canon Selphy CP910:The printer is suitable for printing photographs – it takes 47 seconds for one shot. It makes use of the “borderless printing” feature. As a consumable, photo paper is utilized. A6 is the maximum size. The model is equipped with a Wi-Fi module, a slot for MMC, and S.D. memory cards (you can print directly from the media). It is compact and can be powered by a built-in battery. Among the disadvantages are few opportunities for image editing, high cost of consumables.
  • Epson SureColor F7170: Printer for professional use. The maximum resolution is 720×1440 dpi. Works with D.S. Transfer Adhesive Textile and Multipurpose consumables. Suitable for drawings on textiles, interior printing, clothing.
  • Sony DPP-FP67: It is positioned as a home appliance, but its characteristics are sufficient for use in a small office. The device is mobile, compact – weighing 1 kg—borderless prints, virtually silent. It takes about 63 seconds to create one image. The main drawback of both this and other Sony models is the difficulty in purchasing consumables.
  • Mitsubishi Electric CP-D90DW: Professional desktop type device. The maximum print size is 15.2×22.9 cm, with a 300×300 dpi resolution. In less than 8 seconds, the printer can produce a 10×15 image. The high cost is one of the drawbacks.

Dye-sublimation printing business ideas.

  • Digital Printing Presses: The exceptional quality and low run lengths of digital presses are well-known. Many mechanical activities, such as film preparation, color proofing, and plate building for the inking rollers, are no longer necessary in offset printing. It’s one of the printing industry’s most profitable concepts. It entails directly printing electronic pictures onto a variety of substrates.
  • Mug printing: In the sphere of business gifts, coffee mugs are popular. These mugs are very popular as personalized presents. So, if you’re looking to start a sublimation business with a specialty product, this is an option to explore. The initial step in printing mugs is to develop a design or pattern on a computer, then use a sublimation printer to print on the mug’s surface. Printed mugs may be sold for $2 to $5 a piece, making them one of the simplest methods to generate a lot of money.
  • Flexible printing: In the United States, flexible printing has grown highly popular. In the past, flex printing was only used to make campaign banners for political parties. Flexographic printing, on the other hand, is now an indispensable technology in the outdoor advertising sector.
    Sublimation printers can produce flexo printing types such as rigid-flex, vinyl, solvent flexo, solvent vinyl, eco-solvent flexo, eco-solvent vinyl, and backlit. Not just in cities, but also in small communities, this business is quite successful.
  • Designer of cell phone cases: It’s fashionable, particularly among Generation Z and Millennials. Almost everyone who possesses a cell phone appears to have a case for it. This traditional hard case preserves the phone in good condition by protecting it from drops and scratches. Businesses may design their team’s phone cover with a message to make it seem current and professional, making it a terrific marketing choice.
  • Pizza Box: By enabling a non-competing local store to advertise on the pizza box, a pizzeria owner may receive their pizza box for half the price, possibly saving thousands of dollars each year. Local companies who advertise in the pizza box also benefit from low-cost, high-impact exposure. Clipped coupons giving discounts on a company’s products or services can be used as advertising. While eating a tasty pizza, customers may earn great discount vouchers to use at local shops
  • Mouse pad manufacturing: In today’s America, practically everyone has a computer in the office, and nearly everyone has a computer at home. Sublimating and disseminating your company’s information on sublimation mouse pads is a fantastic idea. Production and sale of cut out coasters
    Coasters are useful, but if they’re well-designed, they may be much more appealing to sell for profit or utilize as a marketing tool for your company. Here are some suggestions to consider if you’re thinking about launching a sublimation business.
  • T-shirt printing: T-shirt printing is the most typical use for a sublimation printer. Many people who wish to make a lot of money utilize graphics editing software to develop designs that are then printed on fabric. As a consequence, you get a stylish shirt with a textured pattern. The cost is determined by the graphic designer’s abilities and the amount of labor involved.
  • Photo blocks: In comparison to conventional picture blocks, orders for contemporary, circular photo blocks have surged in recent years. Photo blocks are given as a unique present from one family member to another and as a keepsake of a memorable trip photo. Photo blocks are increasingly being utilized to replace traditional awards during athletic events, with significant sales.
  • Specialized greeting cards: Niche greeting cards are ideal if you enjoy selecting and sending the right card for each occasion and customizing your non-metallic cards. You can help your business create and keep consumer trust by making a personalized card for a special occasion. You may also send cards to inform your consumers about important events and personalize them with signatures or logos from your customers. The benefits of this company include the ability to work part-time, the fact that it is fun and creative, and the fact that it is a feel-good business: even if you can’t see the person receiving the card’s face, you can be sure they are pleased.
  • Sticker printing: Stickers with promotional messages are a popular marketing tool. You may establish a printing business that focuses on promotional stickers. Sublimation printers employ three ingredients to transfer pictures onto materials including polyester fabric, metal, and coated ceramics: sublimation ink, heat, and pressure.
    Promotional items and customized products are printed on them.

Frequently asked questions.

Q. Is dye sublimation better than an inkjet?

In dye-sublimation, the ink does not smear due to the high-temperature level. Furthermore, color sublimation ink has a longer lifespan than conventional ink. Because the impressions are dye-based rather than ink-based, they are more durable. Print precision and performance are better using dye-sublimation ink. When it comes to ink, the color sublimation method is far less dependable.

Q. How long do dye sublimation prints last?

It might persist for years depending on the temperature at which it is stored and the cleaning conditions to which it is subjected after printing. See more about Is Sublimation Ink long Last? 

Q.Is sublimation printing expensive?

It depends on your purpose; whether you’re a hobbyist or just starting a small business, sublimation may be done for a low cost, but it can be costly for large-scale manufacturing. Because of the materials and consumables involved, this is more costly than other printing procedures.

Q.Which lasts longer, vinyl or sublimation?

If properly cleaned and maintained, vinyl graphics may endure a very long time. Repeated washings can harm vinyl graphics, causing them to fracture or peel. Sublimation printing, in which the ink is embedded in the fabric, is not the same as vinyl printing.

Q.Can you use a toaster oven for sublimation?

Yes, you can use a toaster oven for sublimation, but the print quality and lifespan will suffer.

Q.Can you cook in an oven after sublimation?

Sublimation should not be done in the same oven you use to cook your food. Sublimation ink releases gas when heated.

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