What is Sublimation?

What is sublimation? A growing term in the printing, signage, apparel, and fashion industries, it is interchangeably used with dye-sublimation, and as an abbreviation dye-sub. As I can remember from my 4th grade science class, sublimation is the process in which a solid turns directly into a gas, bypassing the liquid state. The most common example used is dry ice, which is frozen carbon dioxide that sublimates into a fog at temperatures greater than -110° F. Ok, so what does this have to do with t-shirt printing? It is the same process. We print sublimation inks onto a transfer paper. The inks dry on the paper (they are no longer a liquid, but a solid). The transfer and the and the item to be sublimated are aligned in a heat press reaching temperatures up to 400°F. Only at these extreme temperatures, the solid inks turn into a gas that permanently dyes the material fabric. Hence the term Dye-Sublimation. Sublimation is not just for shirts and other apparel, we can sublimate on substrates including mousepads, cutting boards, coasters, metal, tile and many more. What are the benefits of dye-sublimation t-shirt and apparel printing? A huge benefit of sublimation printing is that we are able to do “all over printing”, or printing on the whole shirt as opposed to a small area. This allows us to print artwork and photography, as well as computer generated designs. This opens up many new horizons for artists and photographers. Sublimation is far different from screen printing or direct to garment printing. With sublimation printing the inks leave no raise, feel, or texture in the fabric, different than that of the original garment. Sublimation is permanent, and can reach much brighter and vibrant colors than other types of printing, and has a much wider color gamut. The inks won’t wash out or fade. When there is a texture adhered or printed on top of fabric, such as screen printing or direct to garment it has a tendency to crack and fade over time. Sublimation is possible on most polyester fabrics, poly-cotton blends, and other fabrics. Sublimating on 100% polyester will generally give you the brightest and most vibrant colors.   Interested in our wholesale or custom sublimation?   Contact david@pcpprinting.com or call 727-443-1900.


This shows functional art that can be used as promotional items. All available at Preferred Custom Printing.