What is Sublimation Printing? Definition, Methods, FAQs

What is Sublimation Printing Definition, Methods, FAQs

Sublimation printing is a process that can be used to create prints on clothing and various products. You can sublimate on both light and dark fabrics. When sublimation is done on dark fabrics, you can bleach with white and print designs on them. While sublimation is generally on 100% polyester white or light colored fabrics. Other than fabrics, sublimation printing can be done on a number of substrates such as koozies, acrylic, glass, wood, rayon, etc.

Unlike other methods of printing, such as offset, where the image is applied to a plate and then transferred to the substrate, the sublimation process does not use plates. Instead, the ink and the paper are fused together by heat and pressure.

Table of Contents

What is Sublimation Printing (Definition):

Sublimation printing is a method of printing that uses heat to transfer ink from the transfer paper onto a substrate, such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, tumblers, wood, photo tiles, awards & plaques, etc. It is often used in the printing of images on T-shirts. Sublimation printing differs from traditional printing in that the ink does not need to apply to the surface of the material you want to print. The ink is first heated so that it vaporizes and becomes a gas. The gas is then transferred onto the surface of the material, leaving a durable and vibrant image.

With sublimation printing, the ink is actually bonded to the fabric, so the design will never peel or fade. First, you create a design on a computer and then print it on the transfer paper with a sublimation printer. The paper is then heated to transfer the ink to the fabric or any polyester-coated plain substrate. Moreover, you can use any sublimation blank product for printing.

Top 10 Popular Products Used for Sublimation Printing

1. T-shirt:


T-shirt is the most popular product for sublimation printing. You can print white, black and colored t-shirts.

You can use your own sublimation design or get it for free. Then print it on a transfer paper, and print it using a heat press onto a shirt. You can reach out to the popular sublimation blank t-shirt suppliers to buy at affordable prices.

Moreover, you can use custom t-shirts for jerseys, casual wear, sweatshirts, fundraisers, marketing, and promotional events.

2. Coffee Mugs:

Coffee Mugs

Coffee Mugs is a perfect gift for a coffee lover. The ceramic mug features a bright white glossy finish and a glossy black exterior.

You can personalize the mug with a custom design of your choice. Use product design software to choose from a variety of clip art, shapes, and colors to create a one-of-a-kind mug that will be treasured for years to come.

Gift a loved one with a personalized mug that is sure to brighten their day. The best part is that you can personalize the mug with a design of your choice using a mug press.

3. Tumblers:Tumblers

Custom printed tumblers are a great way to promote your company. You can have your logo or artwork printed on these tumblers.

If you are a print shop, you can use sublimation blank tumblers to print on them. Then your customers will love these custom tumblers.

4. Caps/Hats:


Sublimation printing caps are an affordable way to do so. These caps are made of durable fabric and come in sizes ranging from small to extra-large. You can get it from blank cap/hat suppliers at affordable prices. Moreover,  they are also available in several colors.

Lastly, these caps are an affordable way to show your love for your favorite team or business.

4. Mouse pad:

Mouse pad

Mouse pad is one of the popular products for sublimation printing. The pad is durable and will last for a long time. It has a cloth backing and a non-slip rubber bottom. It measures 8.5″ x 7.75″ and is made of 100% polyester. The mouse pad is perfect for home or office use.

5. Ornaments:


Ornaments are a great product for customizing. There are several different templates that you can use to create your ornaments. All you have to do is upload your photo, design your ornament, and then print with sublimation.

6. Socks:

You can personalize socks with your favorite color, pattern, or logo on them. This is a great way to personalize your socks for special occasions, holidays, or as a gift.

Sublimation printing is a process that heats up the ink and presses it into a surface, making it possible to print on a variety of materials including cotton, nylon, and polyester.

7. Tiles:


With the growing popularity of tile murals, it is important to find the right type of tile for the job. Often, this means finding a tile that can be printed. Sublimation printing is one way to do this.

You can use customized tiles in residential and commercial spaces and can be customized with any image or pattern.

8. Signs & Banners:

Signs & Banners

Signs and banners for sublimation printing are a must-have for any business. You can use it to advertise products, services, and events.

These are customizable and can be designed to suit the needs of any business. The best part about signs and banners for sublimation printing is that they are affordable and can be customized to suit any budget. You can use it for sublimation printing to print full color designs and can be used for any occasion.

9. Aprons:


Aprons for sublimation printing are a unique and creative way to advertise your business. Whether you are an artist, an employee at a restaurant, or a person who enjoys cooking, these aprons will show off your interests and skills. These aprons are not only useful but also stylish. With a variety of designs and styles, you can find the perfect one for you.

10. Acrylic:


Acrylic is perfect for sublimation printing. The sheets are clear, making them perfect for use with colors or patterns that are already printed on them. They are also made of acrylic, which is a durable material that can be used for years. They are easy to use and can be cut with a laser cutter.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) & Related Questions

1. Can you use a regular printer for sublimation printing?

It is possible to use a regular printer for sublimation printing. It is important to make sure that the printer is compatible with sublimation inks and the transfer paper.

2. Is sublimation printing expensive?

Sublimation printing is not expensive, but it does require an upfront investment. The printing process can create some very detailed and colorful images on products, but the ink needs to be reapplied after each use.

3. Is sublimation print good?

Sublimation printing is a great option for those looking to print on apparel, signage, and promotional products. It’s a relatively inexpensive process. Sublimation printing is also an environmentally friendly process, as it doesn’t require any harmful chemicals or solvents

4. What is the cost of a sublimation printer?

The cost of a sublimation printer can vary depending on the type of printer, the company, and the size of the printer. It is best to check with the company to get a more accurate estimate.

5. Can a Cricut do sublimation?

Cricut is a brand of electronic cutting machines that use vinyl and paper to create unique crafts. You can use it to cut sublimation transfer papers which are used to print onto the fabric or other items.

6. What equipment is needed for sublimation?

For sublimation, you need a sublimation printer, heat press, transfer paper, Teflon sheets of butcher paper, and substrate. The ink must be water-based, because the sublimation process involves heating the ink to temperatures that would destroy oil-based inks.

7. Does HP make sublimation ink?

Yes HP makes sublimation ink which is compatible with HP Stitch dye sublimation printers. It produces high-quality prints with vibrant colors.

8. Can you sublimate with an inkjet printer?

Yes, you can sublimate with an inkjet printer. Before you begin the process, you need to follow a make a few tests. Ensure that the ink is hot enough to be sublimated. If you have a test print that is hot enough, then you can go ahead and start the process.

9. What makes a printer a sublimation printer?

A printer that produces high-quality images by printing the sublimation ink onto a sheet of transfer paper. Sublimation printers are ideal for printing custom T-shirts, signs, or other items that require high-quality images.

10. What printers can be converted for sublimation?

The printers that can be converted for sublimation are as follows: Epson EcoTank ET-2760, Epson WorkForce WF-7720 and 7710,  Epson ET-3760, Epson ET-2720, Epson XP-15000, Epson WorkForce ET-3750.

11. How do I turn my HP printer into sublimation?

The HP Stitch S300, S500 and S1000 are fabric and textile dye sublimation printers. It is perfect for large format textile printing.

12. What’s the difference between a sublimation printer and a regular printer?

Sublimation printer uses sublimation ink. You’ll need to print them onto transfer paper and then place them on the fabric and use a heat press to transfer the ink onto the fabric. Whereas a regular printer uses ink to print documents.

13. Does Epson make sublimation ink?

The Epson UltraChrome DS is the dye sublimation ink manufactured by Epson.

14. Can you do sublimation with a Canon printer?

No, you cannot use Canon printer for sublimation because it uses thermal technology which sublimates the sublimation ink within its print heads. Also, you cannot convert it into a sublimation printer just by replacing ink cartridges with sublimation ink. Because it does not use piezo print heads as found in Epson, Sawgrass, and Ricoh printers.

15. What is the difference between a sublimation printer and an inkjet printer?

The difference between a sublimation printer and an inkjet printer is that the ink in a sublimation printer is dried by heat instead of being dried by evaporation.

16. What Epson printer can you use for sublimation?

The Epson SureColor P400 is the perfect printer for sublimation printing. It has a maximum print width of 38 inches and a maximum print height of 25 inches. It also has a print resolution of 2400 x 2400 dpi and a printer speed of up to 3,600 square feet per hour.

17. How do I start sublimation printing?

Sublimation printing is a technique for printing on materials that you may not easily print with other print methods. The process begins with the image that you print on heat transfer paper. Then you place the substrate and the printed transfer above it in a heat press. Then apply the heat press at around 300 degrees Fahrenheit(which differs with the type of substrate). The ink is then transferred to the material by way of heat transfer. Then remove the transfer paper and the material is left with the ink in place.

18. Is sublimation paper the same as transfer paper?

The sublimation paper and the transfer paper are the same. It is a different type of paper that is used for printing, and the ink is transferred to the fabric.

19. Is sublimation a good business?

If you’re a business owner and want to expand your customer base, you may want to consider sublimation printing. This type of printing offers a multitude of benefits, including the ability to print full-color images onto various types of fabrics. This is an especially useful type of printing for companies that sell custom clothing and promotional products. Because it allows them to offer customers the ability to design their own clothes.

20. How much should you charge for sublimation shirts?

The charges for sublimation shirts start from $25. However, that also depends upon blank product cost, printing charges, and other overhead expenses that vary with location.

21. What sublimation items sell best?

The best selling sublimation item is t-shirt. Other popular items are coffee mugs, tumblers, photo tiles, etc. Customers love products that are customized to their tastes. The idea of being able to have a unique item that no one else has is what draws people to products like this.

22. Which is better sublimation or heat transfer?

The benefit of sublimation over heat transfer is that the ink on the t-shirt is more durable. Sublimation is the process of using heat to change a substance from a solid to a gas without passing through the liquid phase. This is different from heat transfer, which is the process of using heat to change a substance from a liquid to a gas without passing through the solid phase. The sublimation process is less likely to fade than heat transfer because the ink does not touch the t-shirt.

23. Is vinyl or sublimation better?

Vinyl is a popular option because it is affordable and fairly easy to apply. The vinyl is applied with a sticker or sticker paper, and the design is cut out. Sublimation is a more expensive option, but it is more durable and vibrant. The design is created in a digital file and transferred onto a material.

24. Can sublimation be done on wood?

Yes, sublimation can be done on wood. If you want to use wood for sublimation printing, you need to consider the following: – The type of wood, surface finish, type of ink, type of paper, desired print quality and the desired print size

25. What is the difference between sublimation and Cricut?

The difference between sublimation and Cricut is that sublimation is the process of transferring ink from a solid medium to a gas, liquid, or solid surface. Cricut is a brand of die-cutting machine that uses cartridges of different shapes and sizes to cut materials.

26. What kind of laminate do you use for sublimation?

Most laminates for sublimation printing are made of PVC, PET, or Polyester. These laminates are generally designed to be applied to a paper product and then heat sealed with a heat press machine. These types of laminates are usually polyester or PVC-based.

27. Can you sublimate on glass?

Yes, you can sublimate on glass. yes, but it depends on the type of glass. There are two types of glass: Soda-lime glass and borosilicate glass. Soda-lime glass is the most common type of glass and you can heat upto 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Borosilicate glass is used in ovenware and it can withstand temperatures up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you can sublimate on glass,

28. Can you sublimate on cardboard?

Yes, you can sublimate on cardboard. It is great for business owners who want to create their own business cards, brochures, or posters. It is also perfect for anyone who needs to make a temporary poster for an event.

29. Can you sublimate on cotton?

No, the only fabric you can sublimate on is polyester.

30. Can you sublimate on black shirts?

Yes, you can sublimate black shirts. Bleach the area you want to sublimate and use the dye sublimation method directly onto the white portion of the shirt. If you have an excess bleached area that causes the white background of the image, you can print with a black background to fill that excess area.

31. How do you use sublimation on tumblers?

You can use sublimation on tumblers by printing the design on the outside of the tumbler. First, print the design on the transfer paper with a sublimation printer. Then press it on the tumbler using a heat press. As a result, the print is transferred onto the tumbler. Finally, remove the transfer and let it cool for the ink to dry.

32. How do I add sublimation to wood?

Yes, you can sublimate on wood. Make sure you are purchasing a high-release transfer paper. Moreover, the heat press time and temperature entirely depend on the wood. You can start with heat press at a temperature of 360 to 400 degrees.

33. What kind of wood can you sublimate on?

The best wood to sublimate on is wood that is smooth. But it is recommended that you use the type of wood that the product is made out of, like mahogany. The wood will not burn or cause any chemical reactions, and it will also last for a long time.

34. Can I sublimate on vinyl?

Yes, you can sublimate on vinyl. It is a synthetic polymer material that we often use for signage, car bumpers, and flooring.

35. What do I need to sublimate on wood?

For, sublimation on wood, you will need a sublimation printer, sublimation ink, and transfer paper.

36. Can you sublimate on MDF board?

Yes, you can sublimate the MDF board. In fact, you can sublimate on any material that has a flat polyester surface and curved in case of coffee mugs and tumblers.

37. Can you sublimate on laminate?

Yes, directly onto the laminate surface. It’s a great way to add a personal touch to your floors, and is perfect for apartment or condo dwellers who don’t want to mess up their floors with paint or glue.

38. How do you sublimate a chopping board?

To sublimate the chopping board, first; print the artwork on the transfer paper. All you need to do is heat up the surface of the board, and then put it in between heat press platens. Then place the printed transfer on top of the chopping board with Teflon sheets above and below. The heat will cause the ink to transfer from the paper to the board.

39. What is a UniSub product?

UniSub is a global supplier of blank products for sublimation printing. The products sold are awards & plaques, bags, clipboards, basketball goal, coasters, clocks, jewelry, ID tags, key chains, and more.

40. Can you sublimate on metal?

Metal is one of the best materials to sublimate. There are a few different types of metal that you can use, but aluminum is the most common because it is cheap and durable.

41. Can I sublimate on canvas?

The Sublimation on Canvas option is for those who want to create a custom piece of art. The canvas is durable and made to last, and the design will never fade. The best part is that you can create the design yourself and use your own photos to create the perfect personalized piece of art.

42. Can you sublimate onto a painted surface?

Yes, you can sublimate onto a painted surface but the surface needs to be white. Without white, the ink will bleed straight into the background color.

43. Can you sublimate on any ceramic tile?

Yes, you can sublimate onto a ceramic or porcelain tile. If you have a white tile, then you will need to make sure that the back of the tile is coated with a special coating that will protect the tile from getting damaged.

Final Words:

Sublimation is one of the beginner friendly methods for those who start with a custom printing industry.

Indeed, with lower inveestlents and space requirements, sublimation printing helps you set up your print shop or print your own products in the most convenient way.

Written by Davis Brown

Hi! I'm Davis Brown, Head of Editorial Team of HowNest. We are team of researchers, writers and veterans. We publish articles, whitepapers, journals and blogs with full-proof research and proper analysis. We focus on various areas such as eCommerce, industrial operations, corporate management, technologies, and DIY solutions.

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