Dye sublimation is a popular method used for transferring images onto a base material or substrate. The substrate can be a polyester fabric, a polyester-coated coaster, or any other material that can hold sublimation ink during the heating process.  Polyester ensures crisp, lasting print results as it is tougher than most fabric types.

However, one of the most common questions regarding the sublimation process is if the ink can be printed on dark substrates. It is possible to use dark colored substrates, but the final results will not be great.

It is therefore better to use a light polyester fabric or polyester-coated item to ensure the best results.

Read on to understand why the sublimation process does not work on dark substrates:

  • During the sublimation process, a special ink dyes the fibers of a polyester fabric (substrate).  Through the use of heat and pressure, solid particles of the sublimation ink convert into a gas, without becoming a liquid state during the sublimation process. The gaseous particles then bond with the fibers of the fabric.  To put it in another way, the ink particles dye the fibers. They will become part of the substrate. You can dye darker substrates or fabrics. But, you will not be able to notice any difference in the final product.
  • Another reason why sublimation does not work on dark substrates is the lack of a white under-base before the application of color. A white under-base can make the print colors stand out.  As sublimation ink only supports polyester, you would have to use a white under-base with polyester fibers in it.


In a nutshell, dark colors can create distorted prints. It is better to use a light substrate since it will not mix with the color of the ink.

Dye sublimation is more economical than other printing methods. In addition, the process helps produce vibrant print results that are permanently embedded into a substrate. The final images do not fade, crack or wash away, even after multiple uses.

To learn more about sublimation printing, check out our blog. If you are looking for quality sublimation materials, we offer dye sublimation ink and dye sublimation papers at great prices.

As a leading manufacturer of dye sublimation printing materials, Guangzhou JD Digital Technology Co. Ltd. goes the extra mile to ensure product quality and reliability.