This sublimation for beginners: 2023 guide tells you everything from its purpose to application and limitations.
Sublimation for Beginners: 2023 Guide
As a newbie, getting into sublimation printing can be a bit overwhelming, considering everything that goes into it. So, it is important that before anyone gets into it, they have some level of understanding about its mechanism and process. Now that you are here, I am assuming you are in the process of making a decision about whether you want to get into it or not.
Wondering how to do sublimation printing on cotton? What are the best sublimation printers for beginners? What is the equipment you need to start off with sublimation printing? To answer all your questions and queries, I am here with this “sublimation for beginners: 2023 guide”. So, make sure to follow it.
What is Sublimation Printing? Why Do I Need Sublimation?
While many people wonder whether sublimation is good for them, there is so much that goes into it. If you are someone who likes to transfer the designs on different surfaces in an unusual way, it is a perfect solution. In simple words, it is the process of printing that uses a special paper and heat transfer method to transfer a design on different fabrics or materials.
- Unlike heat transfer printing, it does not paste the design but rather makes it a part of the fabric, so you won’t have faded or washed-away prints with this. Now, coming to the main question, why do you need sublimation? Well, here are some reasons that make this type of printing stand out among others.
- First of all, given that it is done mostly for fashion DIY crafts, it is reasonable as compared to embroidery and screen printing.
- The entire process is in your hands. Hence, while you are in the process of developing a design, it is up to you whether to use hand-made designs or design software. Either way, you are in control and customize the details really easily.
- The results are incredibly durable. With sublimation printing, users don’t have to worry about faded or washed-out designs. Unlike heat transfer and screen prints, they won’t crack or peel. So, if you want long-lasting results, this one is the suitable alternative.
What is Sublimation Shirt Printing?
Well, it is the same thing done on the shirt. In this process, users develop a design on a special sublimation paper and then transfer it to the fabric of the shirt. That being said, it does not work with all sorts of fabrics. The most commonly used here are either polyester or spandex shirts. Using 100% pure cotton is not recommended as it doesn’t receive the ink that well. After this, the printer uses a heat press to transfer the design to the fabric. After this, it is sealed onto the fabric and you are all done.
Are Sublimation and Heat Transfer the Same Thing?
Although they may sound similar in working, they are different. The most apparent variation between them is their mechanism. For instance, in sublimation printing, the machine is transferring the ink on the material, which makes it appear vibrant and sharp. On the contrary, when it comes to heat transfer, all the printer is doing is adding a layer of design on the fabric that can eventually crack and peel off of it. So, sublimation printing is preferred by those who want lasting results and vibrant results.
What You Need to Do Sublimation Printing: Some Basics
Now, before you start the process of sublimation printing, it is ideal that you get the equipment right at your feet. This is because it can make the job much easier than it is otherwise. So, make sure to check these items before you get started;
- First of all, you will need a special sublimation printer. Although many people convert their modern inkjet printers for sublimation, I would always prefer going for a new one. If you don’t have a new version of an inkjet printer, having the special sublimation one is a must in this case.
- With the printer, one thing that is inseparable is the ink. So, these are specific pigmented inks, used only for sublimation. They change their form under pressure, hence, when heat is applied, they will evaporate in gaseous form.
- Likewise, a sublimation paper is another must for users. This allows the ink to transfer, with the quality intact.
- In addition, you would need a heat press machine. This will help the printer transfer the pattern onto the paper, without any smudges. With that said, you need to make sure it is suitable for the surface you are using for printing.
- Here, it is equally significant to invest in quality design software. Here, options like CorelDraw are best as they allow you to magnify and customize the design to your liking.
- Now that all is done, it is important to note that not all materials can be used for sublimation printing. The most commonly used are polycotton, PVC, spandex, and polyester. Apart from this, you can use plastic and metals that are coated with polymers.
How to Do Sublimation on Cotton: A Step-by-Step Guide
If you want to transfer a design to your cotton clothes, look no further. I am here with this detailed guide on how to do sublimation on cotton. So, follow these steps.
Start off with the Design
To start off with the process, it is pretty obvious that you need to have a design. Now, it is all up to you whether you are using some drawings or digital apps for this task. I usually prefer using light transfer papers because they are great at making the colors appear vibrant and alive. Once you have the design in hand, it is time to put it on the transfer paper.
After this step, you have to print it. Now, it is not challenging at all, still, I would explain it to those who don’t know. Place the design on the paper in such a way that its face is towards the heating press and the side you are seeing is blank. Make sure the placement is right, or else, it will ruin the entire experience for you.
Use the Heat Press
Now, wait for at least thirty minutes to heat and press the design. It is equally important to make sure that the paper is covered with a silicon sheet, as it can prevent the ink from smudging. For this step, the temperature must be around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a specific requirement for cotton, so if you are to use any other material, make sure to use a suitable temperature.
It’s Time to Finish it Off
Once the heat press is done, it suggests that the design is properly sublimated onto the paper. Yet, it is not permanent and can be washed off from the surface quite easily. So, it is certainly time to use a finishing paper. Now, you are required to repeat the previous step again, but this time, with a finishing paper on it. This will guarantee the durability of your design and will make sure it doesn’t fade away, even after frequent washes.
Some Best Sublimation Printers for Beginners in 2023
Now that you know all the nitty gritty details of sublimation printing, it is time to start your own adventure. But before that, you will need a device that can help you get through it. Look no further as I am here with these reasonable yet useful best sublimation printers for beginners in 2023.
Brother MFC J995DW
Brother is a leading brand when it comes to printers for its functional designs for different skill sets. So, for beginners, this MFC J995DW printer is my recommendation. This is because it works for both regular and sublimation printing which allows newbies to learn the basics well. To convert this, all you need to do is swap the cartridges that are included in the package. You can always use the instruction manual for this.
One thing that makes it justified for the price is its automatic functions. For instance, if the printer runs out of ink, it immediately notifies the user, so they can fill it accordingly. With that said, it handles simple designs well, which makes it perfectly suited for DIYs. The results are quite long-lasting and don’t fade away easily.
WorkForce WF 7210
It’s the infamous WorkForce printer that has got quite some reputation across the market. It uses inkjet technology and works wonders for anyone who has just started off with sublimation printing. This one has a sleek black matte design that looks appealing in the office area or study. With that said, the navigation is absolutely basic with this device.
This one has multiple cartridges available, hence, for anyone who wants to work with different colors in a single design, this one is the best. With that said, it cannot handle intricate or detailed design. All in all, for anyone who has no idea about where to begin and doesn’t want to invest heavily, I would suggest this printer.
Epson Expression Photo HD XP 15000
Coming from Epson, it is certainly the best deal for people who usually work in a confined space. Its slim and intelligent design is what sets it apart from other competitors. The color display makes it much easier for beginners to control the transfer method. All in all, navigating through the menu is incredibly easy for anyone who has no experience with sublimation printers.
This printer further has its own replaceable cartridges and special Epson ink formula that delivers wonderfully. Each container is separate, so you can use multiple colors for one design. The results with this printer are long-lasting and don’t fade away. The one thing about this Photo HD device that deserves appreciation is that it can work with complicated and intricate designs neatly.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can you sublimate onto anything?
No, to get the best results from sublimation, you are only recommended to use it on some materials like polyester and spandex. Apart from these, it is used on some plastic and metal decor pieces, only if they are coated with polymer. For glass, it is important to have it pre-treated for the ink to transfer ideally.
What are the limitations of sublimation?
The most popular limitation of sublimation printers is that they cannot be done on all materials. For instance, it does not work on pure cotton and nylon shirts. Likewise, the results on dark-colored fabric are not as appealing as they are on either white or any light-toned surface. Finally, it can be a bit expensive for beginners.
Is sublimation better than screen printing?
Well, it all comes down to your preferences. Both these types of printing offer long-lasting results that neither fade nor wash away. With that said, sublimation printing is relatively affordable and is preferred by most people who are concerned about budget. So, in the end, it is all about individual needs.
Is sublimation printing better than heat transfer?
They both have their perks and cons. I usually prefer sublimation printing because it has vibrant and lasting results. Given that it is only transferring the ink onto the fabric, there are a few chances of it getting cracked. On the contrary, heat transfer is inexpensive, so for anyone who is concerned about budget, the latter might work well.
Finally, if you are a beginner who is deciding on whether to get into sublimation printing or not, this is the right place. This is because it demands some level of understanding regarding everything from sublimation’s mechanism, to limitations, and requirements. In this guide, I have tried to answer all your queries and concerns regarding the sublimation process, how it occurs, and what you need for it.
So, make sure to read it all before you get into this venture. I do hope that you will start this fun activity with a positive attitude and open mind.