Sublimation is an amazing way to create bright, permanent, professional looking image transfers using your own artwork or photography. No plastic feel, no fading when washed. No other image transfer technology to date can claim this except for printing directly on to fabrics with fabric dyes.
The science behind sublimation is simple: when heated to high temperatures, sublimation ink turns into a gas, allowing it to enter into the open pores of the polyester-coated item. Once removed from the heat, the pores of the item cool and close up, trapping the ink inside of the item. The sublimated image will be soft and smooth to the touch and is a permanent application. No bleeding or fading when you wash it!
Sublimation works specifically with polymer-coated substrates or light-colored, 100% polyester garments. You also have to use a printer that can be loaded with the special sublimation inks, and the special sublimation paper. A good heat press does the transfer. Irons and steam presses do not get hot enough or apply enough pressure.
Ricoh SG 3110DN printer
4 SubliJetR Sublimation Ink Cartridges (C,M,Y,K)
Image Right R 8.5" x 14" Premium Sublimation Paper - 100ct.
SubliJet Power Driver w/ Color Profiles
Sublimation "Getting Started" Guide
Unisub Starter Kit
Heat presses are a necessity when it comes to the sublimation process you can view our selection by clicking here.
Already have a printer? Well here are a few compatible small format Printers:
Epson WorkForce 30
Epson C88 Plus
Epson WorkForce 1100
Epson Stylus Photo 1400
Ricoh GX e3300N
Ricoh GX 7000
Sublimation ink comes in two varieties – Artainium and SubliJet. Sublijet inks can be used with Epson or Ricoh printers, whereas Artainium ink can only be used with Epson printers.
The main difference between the two inks is the way they process the color when printing. Artainium ink requires an ICC profile, which is a color correction profile. Sublijet inks require a power driver. The power driver is already written to create the correct color profile in your system and does not need a specific design program to be used, making it much easier for beginners. The ICC profile will need to be installed and set up before use and MUST be used with a design program that allows you to manage the colors, such as Illustrator, Photoshop or CorelDraw.
For Epson printers, these brands of ink come in two different set-ups: cartridges and bulk ink systems. Cartridges are easy to install and maintain, whereas the bulk ink system allows you to use much more ink before needing to replace the bulk bags. Bulk systems are meant for heavy sublimation users and cartridges are more popular with light to medium users. Regardless of the type of ink set up you are using, it is important to note that sublimation ink is different than inkjet ink and should be used on a daily basis. If not, the ink may clog and require printer head cleanings or head flushes.
The manufacture also highly suggests having ONE printer completely set aside for sublimation use. Switching between inkjet and sublimation inks in one printer can be a messy ordeal and will end up costing you a lot of precious sublimation ink.
The Basics of Artainium and Sublijet Ink
ArTainium & Sublijet are nearly the same ink formulation and can be used to produce the same sublimation items.
ArTainium uses an ICC Profile that is attached to a design program to control color management. This is used through the Epson driver and can be used with a PC or Mac. ICC profiles are better for those who understand color better than most, like photographers or graphic designers. ICC profiles must be used through design programs, such as Illustrator, PhotoShop or CorelDraw.
Sublijet uses a Power Driver to print and control color management. Design program color management must be turned off for accurate color. The Power Driver is only compatible with PCs. This is more user-friendly and much easier to handle for those who aren’t as knowledgeable about controlling color settings and profiles. Sublijet Power Drivers don’t need to be used with a design program, though it is highly recommended.
ICC Profile/Power Driver
To obtain consistently accurate colors from any dye sublimation ink, some form of color correction must be used. There are many different approaches taken by ink suppliers to obtain decent colors. However, for optimum results, we use the internationally recognized ICC color profiles for Artainium inks and Power Drivers for SubliJet inks.
These color management programs are basically custom-designed files that are loaded onto the computer. The program will take into account the characteristics of the specific ink, paper, printer and program being used. Every time you print, you will use this file to print the sublimation inks correctly to get the most vibrant, true colors.
Without a profile, your printer would think it is printing with regular inkjet inks, which are vastly different from sublimation inks and may upset the colors in your image.
Currently, ICC color profiles require the use of a design program, such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Corel Draw (or a design program that allows you to manager colors) and will also need a minimal amount of set-up time with your design program.
A Power Drivers will not NEED a design program to be used and is already set up to print as soon as it’s installed in your computer.
Sublimation paper is necessary for the ink to transfer onto substrates.
Only a heat press will be able to provide the amount of heat and pressure needed to transfer a sublimation image onto a substrate. We have a variety of sized heat presses sold separately including a mug press that you can view here. It’s important to decide what size items you will want to transfer onto in order to determine the size of heat press you will need.
We carry a variety of sublimation blanks (polyester coated) which can be viewed here. Press times, temperatures and pressures can vary so please check each products page for specific instructions.
Want to try Sublimation without having to invest in a whole lot of fancy equipment? Jacquard's iDye Poly can be used to make Sublimation Transfer Prints onto your Polyester fabrics! All you need is the iDye for Polyester, a thickener, a heat press or an iron and some semi-glossy copy or printer paper. This video here will show you how to do it at home!