Design files are an extension of image file formats and one of the most important processes with your sublimation printing business. You must know the raw image format and the right design software best for your sublimation printing needs.
Here, we will be taking a look into all types of graphic/image file formats available for your dye-sublimation business. We will take a deep drive into graphic files, best file format for printing photos, product design software, and more. We will let you know the features and applications of each file format.
What is Sublimation Printing?
Maybe you are familiar with sublimation printing. But maybe you are not. If you already know about what you are doing, feel free to skip this section.
Sublimation is a process in which a solid directly turns into a gas. And a gas directly turns into a solid without having any liquid state. This scientific phenomenon is applied in sublimation printing, so it gets its name from it. In this process, the sublimation inks directly penetrate into the surface of the material under the application of heat and pressure for a particular time period.
That is to say, the combination of heat and pressure convert the ink from a solid to a gaseous state enabling them to penetrate the surface so that a permanent full color image is printed.
Sublimation printing uses a wet ink technology like a water based dye that bonds with the surface.
What is the best materials to sublimate on?
You can sublimate on man-made polymers such as polyester and PVC(Polyvinyl chloride) or polymers of fabrics. You can sublimate on hard surfaces like polyester coated aluminum sheets or ceramic tiles. Or on soft substrates such as polycotton textiles.
Due to the heat press application the pores of these polymers open which allows sublimation ink(in gaseous) state to enter into these pores.
Moreover, when the temperature drops the pores start closing leaving the solid ink image as a part of the polymer. As a result, the print lasts longer and does not wash or scratch off for a long time.
Important Graphic Design Files in Sublimation Printing:
Vector and raster are the two basic types of digital graphic file formats in printing. These file formats determine what you can edit in the image and the resulting quality of the print file.
Raster graphics are also known as Bitmap. In simple terms, a raster image is composed of hundreds of rectangular pixel grids or color points that compose together to make an image.
The most common example of raster graphics is the picture or photographs you take from your digital camera. Or the pictures you find on websites such as stock photos are raster images only.
Technically a raster image is categorized by the width and height of the image in pixels. For instance, an image file of 640 pixels(width) x 480 pixels(height) takes a storage space of 307,200 pixels.
Moreover, the other way to measure raster graphics is color depth. The number of bits per pixel is known as color depth. The color depth determines the number of colors a graphic represents. Further, you can convert raster image file formats into JPEG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, and PNG.
Vector graphics are made of paths, not pixel grids. A vector is defined by a start and an endpoint. Along with other points such as curves, points, and angles.
A path can be a line, triangle, square, or any curved shape. This path is used to make drawings, graphics, images, or complex diagrams.
Top 4 Design Files for Sublimation Printing:
Universally, there are many recognized file types for storing images. Here we will be discussing the top 4 design file formats as well as specific details and characteristics about each for sublimation printing.
EPS(encapsulated postscript file) which is suitable to work with Postscript printers and imagesetters. It works with both Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. It supports both vector graphics and raster images.
EPS format is best for printing high-resolution graphics or illustrations. Further, EPS is the best file format for t-shirt printing.
PSD files(.psd) are used and read exclusively by Adobe Photoshop. The biggest advantage of PSD files is that it retains all the original file attributes and saved file characteristics such as resolution, color information, spot color channels, and image bit depth. You can easily save it for future change the design attributes without having to have to re-create a new image or save it for future modifications.
When printing is concerned, PSD image file format should have a good resolution of 300 pixels/inch to achieve a good print.
The JPEG(Joint Photographic Experts Group) file is one of the most commonly used graphic file formats.
JPEG is a raster file format. It means JPEG compression can be very effective and efficient whereas enlarging may result in distortion and blurriness in the image. Further, JPEG supports RGB, CMYK, and greyscale color settings.
For printing, JPEG is perfect for editing then printing photos or artwork provided it is available in high resolution.
If you printing photos or high-quality images that are extremely large, the TIFF file format is the right choice.
Raster vs Vector:
Understanding the differences, pros, and cons of raster and vector graphic files is essential as you are going to work with that further.
1. Image Quality:
If you decrease or scale down the size of raster graphics, there will be a decrease or loss in quality. When you try to fit too many pixels into a smaller space, it will result in loss on pixel and decreased detail. While if you enlarge the image past its original dimension it will look pixilated.
Whereas, vector graphics unlike raster images are not made up of a specific number of pixels. So, if you scale down or enlarge a vector image it won’t losing resolution or image quality. Moreover, enlarging a vector graphic yields an object with fine detail and smooth edges.
2. Application areas:
Raster is suitable for photographs, scanned artwork and stock images whereas vector graphic is ideal for logos and icons.
3. Compatible File format:
Raster graphic file formats include PEG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, and PNG.
Vector graphic file formats include AI, SVG, CDR, DRW, and EPS.