Personalizing your garments, designing logos, images and text for your T-shirts, or printing fabrics for interior design, can be fun, but also challenging. With various options for heat printing on the market, you may ask yourself what is sublimation paper, and is there a difference to heat transfer paper? The simple answer is, yes. They both have their own advantages and disadvantages, but sublimation paper offers a permanent result that may better suit your needs.
What Is Sublimation Paper?
It's not a transfer, it's a reaction. Unlike heat transfer paper, which is self-explanatory, sublimation paper does not transfer an image onto fabric or an item, it integrates the image into the fabric or item. Sublimation paper is a specialty paper that supports the chemical reaction that occurs between sublimation inks and the polyester fabric or item, when heat and pressure are applied.
When heated, sublimation ink turns to a gas that embeds itself into the polyester fabric, protected by the paper lining. After the ink cools, it solidifies as a permanent part of the fabric. This integration, ensures "all-over" brighter, more durable, seam-to-seam printing, which allows for long-lasting, intricate details in your design. Sublimation paper is an attractive printing option for personal and professional printing jobs, because of the diversity of its application. Its durability, light resistance and color vibrancy, offers a perfect solution to designing garmentsand redecorating your home.
Its printing uses include:
There are various video tutorials online that can walk you through sublimation printing, but this is a quick overview to get you started!
You Will Need:
If this is your first time using sublimation paper to print, we recommend that you purchase these items as a package deal, as it is more economical than buying each component separately.
It is also worth noting, that while you can use a conventional hand iron for some fabrics, the most reliable choice for printing is a quality heat press. A heat press ensures consistent results when printing on either heat transfer paper and sublimation paper.
Printing in 8 Easy Steps:
Which Paper Is Better?
Sublimation (digital printing) and heat transfers (screen printing) offer great printing opportunities for you, but being aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each option, will save you money and a headache.
What Is Sublimation Paper - The Pros & Cons
Digital printing does not require printing plates, so customization has never been easier. The benefits include:
There are also some disadvantages to consider when deciding if sublimation printing is right for you:
The main limitations to this kind of printing, are the costs associated with large or bulk orders, and the restrictions around its application on polyester fabrics and items with a polymer coating. Polyester fabrics are cheaper than natural fibers like cotton and silk, but my not be what you are looking for. Do not worry, there is a solution! Sublimation paper will print on poly-blend fabrics, it just won't have the same color vibrancy as 100% polyester. For example: If your fabric is 65% polyester, 35% viscose, the colors of the print will appear slightly muted and the design will have a vintage or distressed aesthetic.
The alternative to sublimation paper, is heat transfer paper, but it has its own pros and cons too.
What Is Heat Transfer Paper - The Pros & Cons
When placed in the heat press, the transfer paper's plastic lining melts, embedding the ink on the fabric. The benefits of using this specific transfer paper are:
Whilst heat transfer paper can be applied to a wider variety of fabrics, it has a few disadvantages that outweigh the limitations of sublimation paper:
What Is Sublimation Paper?: Conclusion
Overall, sublimation paper provides a smooth, high-quality finish to your colors, without the risk of fading or cracking. You can apply it to customize your garments, revitalize your interior decorating or even elevate your business with stationary and promotional materials. We hope this article has given you the insight and confidence to select the right paper for your job and be ready to start! However, if you want to know more about fabric printing or just want to explore the question "what is sublimation paper" further, reach out to the heat press specialists.