With such a wide variety of sublimation paper available, it is understandable that anyone could be overwhelmed when facing such a seemingly simple decision. Tacky sublimation paper is only one kind out of many, but it has some very useful properties that can make a printing job go much easier.

Ghosting and Gassing Out

In order to better understand the benefits of tacky sublimation paper, we first must explain some of the problems some people may encounter when learning how to sublimation dye fabrics. One of the most commonly encountered problems is ghosting. Ghosting is when the sublimation paper containing the ink to be printed onto the fabric shifts mid-press, causing the image to have a ‘ghost’ of itself, where part of the ink absorbed into the fabric before it moved. The problem here is twofold; you have a distorted image, and the image is misplaced on the product because it shifted mid-print. Gassing out occurs when the sublimation paper was not entirely flush to the surface of the fabric before the heat press was applied, causing the ink to ‘gas out’ from under the edge of the paper in its gaseous state, causing a burst of ink across the fabric.

How can tacky sublimation paper help?

Tacky sublimation paper is, as you might have surmised from its name, sticky on one side. This is the side that the sublimation ink is printed on, so when you are ready to print your fabric or other product, you can stick the paper onto the product and reposition it as needed. There are two types of tacky sublimation paper; some are tacky to the touch and will stay put when you press it, while others have a chemical that causes it to become tacky once the heat of the heat press activates it. Once it is where you would like it to stay, pressing firmly around the paper will ensure it stays put if it is not the heat-activated tacky paper. It is tacky enough that it will stay put, without being so sticky that it is difficult to remove once the heat press is applied.

How do I know if tacky sublimation paper is right for me?

If you know that you will want to work quickly and accurately without worrying about ruined products, tacky sublimation paper may be right for you. Some people prefer the ease of movement that comes with the non-tacky paper, so it may take some trial and error on your part to decide which kind will best fit your needs. You also need to take your printer into consideration. Right now, tacky paper is only available in rolls, so if your printer is small enough that it only takes sheets, without upgrading equipment it is not likely that tacky paper will work for you. While some people have tried cutting up the sheets, most have found it difficult to store, as they stick to each other when stacked.