Every day, there seems to be a thousand new ways to make something. The changes and advancements in technology are nearly constant and have been applied to multiple fields outside of their initial conception. In the printing industry, the process of dye sublimation printing has becoming one of the best ways to create awesome prints and shades on a product, and is growing in popularity.

The Process Itself

Dye sublimation printing is a bit more complicated that standard inkjet printing. It has more steps, especially for certain items, and typically involves more labor which can raise the price. The process requires specific machines and uses a certain type of dye, rather than an ink, and a specially modified printer.

To begin with, sublimation printing only works on items that are polymer based and can withstand high heat. Plastic items, which usually melt and warp under high heat, can be printed with dye sublimation, but it requires additional materials and work so it’s often not recommended. You may have recognized sublimation as a term from science lessons in school; sublimation is referred to as the process of changing a solid into a gas without it becoming a liquid.

Before the printing begins, the image you want on your item will be generated on a computer and then printed out on a specially designed transfer paper. During the sublimation process, the ink printed on the transfer paper will be heated at a high temperature until it becomes a gas. It will then be absorbed into the pores of the item being printed. The item will then be removed from the ink and allowed to cool, which will close the pores and trap the ink inside the item.

The Results

Due to the process of dye sublimation printing, the image permanently becomes a part of the item. The final product will have an image with a smooth, photo-like finish and will not have any noticeable difference when touched. As the dye is now a literal part of the item, it will also not be able to crack or flake off.

The Benefits

A dye sublimation printed product is going to look a lot better than a product that is printed with an inkjet printer. When you print something using an inkjet printer, the image is made up of thousands of tiny dots of color. With dye sublimation, it is one continuous image without gaps, much like a professionally printed photograph. The colors are also much brighter and vibrant, but this works best when the item base is a bright or “true” white.

Due to the permanence of the sublimation process, the image on the item will be very durable. The durability of dye sublimated printing is perfect for products that have a lot of wear. Even with exposure to outdoor elements, the image will not fade or crack with age. The only damage that can be done to the image would be if the banner’s structure was physically destroyed or compromised.