With the development of functional fabrics, there is an increasing demand for functional garment printing technology, and dye sublimation printing has been sought after by the market. Dye sublimation printing is suitable for printing on white fabrics, and the printed patterns are soft and non-touch. The sublimation ink is transferred to the fabric under the action of heat and pressure, and will not remain on the surface of the clothes to form an unsightly texture. Many sports teams use dye sublimation printing technology to print training equipment and training clothes, because dye sublimation printing is suitable for absorbent fabrics, and there are a wealth of printing colors to choose from.
A few simple steps to make dye sublimation clothing:
1. Use the computer to adjust the size of the printed pattern;
2. Then, use an inkjet printer equipped with sublimation ink to print the pattern on the sublimation transfer paper in a mirror image manner;
3. The sublimation ink adheres to the coating of the transfer paper;
4. Align the transfer paper with the area to be printed on the product. For printing on clothing, you can use fabric that has not been sewn, or a finished T-shirt;
5. If you print the pattern first and then sew the clothes, the size of the pattern must be adjusted larger, and the heat press must be increased to print the front and back fabrics of the clothes. Usually, the sleeves of the clothes are also printed together to save steps;
6. Then, adjust the temperature and pressure of the printing press, apply heat and pressure to the aligned garments and patterns, and convert the solid ink on the transfer paper into gas to penetrate into the fabric fibers;
7. After the hot pressing is completed, the transfer paper will fall off the clothes, and the printed clothes can be worn. (In some cases, sublimation printing may require more heat to “cure” the ink to ensure that the pattern will not easily fall off during washing).
Dye sublimation printing is usually performed on polyester garments because polyester has the best ability to absorb dyes to penetrate into fibers. Some garments use cotton as the base material, coated with polyester coating, or weave polyester fibers in cotton cloth, providing more additional options for dye sublimation printing. The most ideal fabric surface for dye sublimation printing can fully adapt to the dyeing process of converting ink to gas.
If you are familiar with the basic process of dye sublimation printing, and at the same time have a clear understanding of the types of garments you produce. Then, you can consider these techniques to help your product get better printing results: understand the color changes of dye sublimation printing, make the design cater to the needs of clothing, consider the nature of sublimation printing in the design, and understand outsourcing and internal printing.
Understand the color change of dye sublimation printing
For those who are new to dye sublimation printing, it is very important to understand how to adjust the color during the dyeing process. When the fabric absorbs ink, problems such as saturation and color migration generally occur. In addition, slight changes in fabric gloss will also affect the final product. In fact, white fabrics cannot be completely white, with slight blue, magenta or even green. These colors on the surface of the white fabric will have an impact on the pattern printed by sublimation, resulting in a color shift in the printing.
This is why dye sublimation printing usually chooses bright and vivid colors, because the printed colors will slightly shift and become dark. Before the formal production, you can spend some time testing the printing system and making color profiles. Usually, printers will not spend time and money on this, because the price of sublimation ink is not cheap. However, using the color profile as a printing standard to compare deviations can indeed reduce a lot of trouble.
Before sublimation printing, you can test on product samples or fabrics, and observe the color changes printed on the fabrics with the help of color profiles. Later, if you want to add line graphics to the product, you can go back and adjust the RIP software. Good RIP software can help sublimation printers store different types of fabrics and ink printing solutions, saving time for subsequent production. For designers, it is common to recall colors, in case the color of the pattern design is too heavy or over-saturated.
Note: Many companies that sell sublimation equipment, sublimation inks and printers will have recommended color profiles. It is a good printing aid method to use the color profile and adjust it according to your needs after getting started. Returning to adjust the RIP software is the last resort, only used in situations where images are difficult to match.
Among most printers used for dye sublimation printing, CMYK printers are relatively cheap. To use a CMYK printer, you need to know how to adjust CMYK images and how to deal with over-saturated RGB images when converting colors. Otherwise, the hue of the printed color may change, and the color printed in CMYK mode will have a deviation. Sometimes, the printed royal blue will have yellow or black, bright red mixed with cyan. These problems can cause the color of the finished product to be dull and dim or too gorgeous, so it is an important step to adjust the RGB format when converting the color.
For me, it would be helpful to prepare a color calibration print sample (see Figure 1) in advance to avoid potential printing problems at the initial digital file stage. If you want to print a bright royal blue on a piece of clothing, you can first use the brightest royal blue in the printed sample, and then look up the CMYK value (such as 100 cyan, 80 magenta) in the digital source file, and then use these values Replace the color in the print file, and finally get the best printing effect. Repeat the above steps to familiarize you with the best percentage of bright colors, so you can perceive color deviations and avoid bad printing.
Let the design meet the needs of clothing
The most interesting part of clothing design is that there are not many restrictions on the type and layout of the design pattern. You can freely determine the size of the edge of the pattern, because the extra part will be cut off when the clothes are sewn. However, when I started to study surfing suits and other outdoor sports equipment, I was worried about the design of such clothing.
One of the biggest challenges I encountered was how to make the design fit the finished garment. Because I am designing patterns for surfing clothing, this type of clothing is first sublimated and printed on the fabric, and then stitched together, so it is difficult to imagine the pattern on the human torso and limbs. In order to avoid sample errors and repeated modifications, I cooperated with a company to print the design patterns on the main area of the clothes and the sleeve-shaped fabric (see Figure 2). It does help, but I still don’t know what the pattern looks like when a person moves.
The best way to check and adjust the pattern design is to use 3D software to map the pattern onto the human body model. If you don’t have this technical support, you can take a one-size white dress for someone to wear, and then print the design on the dress to check the size.
If the design logo is to be located in a specific part of the clothes, then this “real person” check is very important. By checking, you can easily find out whether the position of the logo on the chest is too low, whether it is easily deformed, and whether it will be blocked when printed on the sleeve. The above problems may cause the customer to return the order, because the size of the pattern, the position and clarity on the clothes are all critical. Another very important step is to measure some fixed values that have nothing to do with the size of the clothes, such as the color and the length of the shoulder seam. You can record the position of the printed pattern on the sublimation printer to facilitate repeated printing. If possible, keep a finished garment for reference (see Figure 3).
If you are performing sublimation printing on the finished garment, you need to figure out the size range of the garment to ensure that the finished product adapts to different sizes. In order to prevent the pattern from falling off on smaller clothes or appear too small on 2XL clothes, you have to consider the different sizes of clothes or print out patterns of different sizes when necessary.
Consider the nature of sublimation printing in the design
This method may be a bit abstract, it means that using the characteristics of sublimation printing to design patterns can affect the final effect of the pattern. Because sublimation clothing is usually printed on the fabric first and then sewn into a garment, repeated random patterns can be used in the design to avoid the embarrassing situation of patterns staggered at the seams of the clothes. However, it also depends on how to cut the seams of the clothes (see Figure 4).
Another way to use sublimation printing characteristics in design is that the printed color will darken after being stressed. Therefore, using a dark background color when designing patterns will make the finished product look more vivid (see Figure 5).
When you design for gym clothes and sportswear, in order to highlight the characteristics of a certain part of the body, you can use a dark color at the bottom of the clothing and a light color at the top. This design effect will give people the illusion of a small waist and large breasts, which will increase the beauty of the design when worn on a model. You can also observe the division of body muscle groups, and design clothing according to the distribution of muscle lines. Imagine that a sublimated printed superhero suit perfectly shows the athlete’s figure. Although not everyone wants to look like a superhero, some clever designs can beautify the appearance of the wearer and greatly increase the attractiveness of the finished product.
Outsourcing and internal printing
There is a big difference between occasional sublimation printing and mass production. Businesses committed to mass production need to be equipped with some sublimation printers, including large output devices and heat presses. If your sublimation clothing business gradually expands, you need to spend time thinking about your goals and what your customers want. If you are new to sublimation printing and are not used to the complicated production process, it would be better to outsource the work from the beginning.
Sublimation printing requires rich experience in printing, heat pressing, and clothing placement, and errors will cost a high price. There are many printers that provide sublimation printing services at home and abroad. They have rich experience and complete sets of equipment to complete complex tasks economically and quickly.
If you want sublimation printing to become a part of clothing production, you have to spend time researching different printing equipment to provide customers with the products they want. Many printing suppliers will provide training to make sublimation garments, covering every step of printing, so you can try to get in touch with such training as soon as possible. If it is a start-up company, you can find an experienced designer who is good at sublimation printing for help. You can join their production team to learn, or even outsource some work to them. As long as you are not a competitor, you will be lucky to find a company willing to share their expertise, which can save you a lot of time and money.
You should correctly measure the value of outsourcing and use it rationally instead of doing everything yourself. After you and your team have been systematically trained and equipped with suitable printing presses, you can prepare to develop your own sublimation printing business.
Find your own sublimation printing solution
Nowadays, sublimation clothing can be one of the most creative and attractive clothing. With the elimination of pattern size, color and location restrictions, and people’s pursuit of non-touch printing, Shenghua clothing has become a product that customers are willing to pay high prices.
Many printers did not take the time to seriously consider the pros and cons of sublimation printing. They simply think that sublimation clothing is not suitable for their customers and do not like this printing process. However, if you know how to handle the color of the image, adjust the design of the pattern for the product, consider the nature of sublimation printing in the design, and make the right decision when outsourcing, then dye sublimation printing will become an irreplaceable part of your production. .