The sublimation printing process

So how does sublimation work? Well, sublimation printing uses heat to essentially bring ink and fabric together as one.

First, a design is printed onto special paper. The inks that are used turn into gas when brought under heat, then combine with the fabric and permanently print onto the fabric. The effects are permanent and less prone to fading, as the ink is embedded in the fabric or substrate rather than simply laying on top like a normal print.

The process is almost like a tattoo, but instead of for your skin, it’s for your chosen product. The heat opens up the pores of the fabric, then with the applied pressure the ink cools and returns to a solid form.

The result is a permanent, full colour image that won’t crack, peel or wash away from the substrate. The process allows the ink to go from a solid to a gas without turning to liquid, a bit like dry ice. The conversion is initiated by heat and controlled by pressure.

It is completely normal for the sublimation to look dull on the transfer paper.

It is recommended that sublimation transfers be pressed on a minimum of 50% or higher polyester blend fabric. The higher the polyester count the more vibrant the design will be.

Material less that 100% polyester may result in a more vintage look.

The fabric must be a lighter color. Sublimation printers do not print white ink. Anything that shows white will be the color of your garment.

The colors shown on the listing may differ from the transfer.

Always test your heat press at different times and temperatures to determine what works best for you.

*Substrates will vary, so please follow instructions provided from the manufacturer that you purchased the substrate from.

**We are not responsible for transfers that are pressed incorrectly.

Please make sure you are using the correct material, color and press settings prior to pressing your design.



Sublimation transfer is a printing technique used to apply intricate and colorful designs onto various surfaces, particularly fabrics and substrates made of polyester or polyester-coated materials. This process involves transforming a solid dye into a gas without passing through a liquid state, allowing it to infuse into the fibers of the material and create a vibrant, long-lasting image.

Here's a step-by-step description of the sublimation transfer process:

  1. Design Creation: The process begins with the creation or selection of a digital design. This design can include intricate patterns, images, graphics, and even photographs.

  2. Printing: The chosen design is printed onto a special sublimation paper using sublimation ink. Sublimation ink is different from traditional inkjet ink, as it has the ability to convert from a solid to a gas without becoming a liquid.

  3. Preparation of Substrate: The substrate or material onto which the design will be transferred should be made of polyester or have a polyester coating. This is because sublimation ink bonds well with polyester fibers.

  4. Transfer Press Setup: A heat press machine is used for sublimation transfer. The machine has adjustable temperature and pressure settings. The substrate is placed on the lower platen of the heat press.

  5. Positioning and Fixing: The printed sublimation paper is carefully positioned onto the substrate, with the printed side facing down. The paper is secured in place using heat-resistant tape to prevent any movement during the transfer process.

  6. Transfer Process: The heat press is closed, and the substrate and sublimation paper are sandwiched between the upper and lower platens of the machine. Heat and pressure are applied according to the manufacturer's guidelines. The high temperature (usually around 380-400°F or 193-204°C) causes the sublimation ink on the paper to turn into a gas.

  7. Ink Infusion: In its gaseous state, the sublimation ink molecules penetrate the polyester fibers of the substrate. As the temperature is reduced, the gas reverts to a solid state, becoming permanently embedded within the fibers. This results in a vivid and durable image that is resistant to fading, washing, and everyday wear.

  8. Cooling and Removal: After the appropriate dwell time, the heat press is opened, and the sublimation paper is carefully peeled off the substrate. The transfer is complete, leaving behind a colorful, seamless design on the material.

Sublimation transfer is commonly used for various applications, including custom apparel, sportswear, banners, home textiles, promotional items, and more. Its advantages include its ability to produce vibrant, full-color designs with excellent detail and durability. However, it is important to note that sublimation is limited to polyester-based materials, as the process relies on the ink bonding with polyester fibers.