We are starting a series of articles describing the technologies use to produce promotional and souvenir products. In this article, we will fully describe the technology of sublimation printing, talk about the pros and cons of this technology.
General information about technology
Sublimation is the process of transition of a substance from a solid state of aggregation to a gaseous state, bypassing the liquid state. This process occurs when materials are heat above 100 0 C.
Non-direct sublimation printing technology is a two-step method of printing an image. The image is print on an intermediate carrier (sublimation paper) with subsequent thermal transfer to the decorate product. In which the particles of the coloring matter apply to the paper are instantly heat (in this case with the help of the thermoelement of the press) and mix, when they go into a gas state, deeply penetrating into the structure of the print material. This technology allows you to apply photographic quality images to any surface cover with sublimation varnish or synthetic fabrics containing polyester.
A detail overview of sublimation transfer of the image to the workpiece
Sublimation transfer requires the following equipment and materials: heat press, continuous ink jet printer, sublimation ink, sublimation printer in Lahore paper, heat-resistant adhesive tape (scotch tape), sublimation blank.
1. Print the image and select intermediate media.
The image must be print in mirror (!!!) display (except for glass photo frames) on special sublimation paper. Sublimation paper weakly absorbs ink; therefore, up to 95% of all ink is transfer to the workpiece. But sublimation paper has one drawback, the image on such paper can be smear by touching it with your hands. Therefore, we have select a material similar in properties, but more convenient to work with, they are matte photographic papers ” Lomond ” for inkjet printing, with a density of 90-120 g / m 2 .
Only pigment sublimation ink is use to print images!
2. Fastening the print to the workpiece.
We apply the printe paper to the item to be decorate so that the image is on the side of the blank and fix it with heat-resistant tape.
Heat-resistant adhesive tape, able to withstand high temperatures, while not losing its adhesiveness and does not leave glue marks on the product. It is necessary for reliable fixation of the sublimation paper on the workpiece, thereby preventing ghosting or blurring of the image resulting from the displacement of the print. We know of cases when, in an attempt to save money, manufacturers of souvenir products use self-adhesive stickers or masking tape. But after thermal printing, such stickers leave traces of glue on the workpiece or are difficult to peel off.
3. Transfer of images using a thermal press.
On the controller of the thermos press, you must set the desire temperature and holding time. Then we adjust the uniform pressure of the thermoelements of the press directly with the workpiece. We warm up the thermo press to a predetermine temperature and hold it for 20 minutes to achieve a more uniform heating of the plate. We place the workpiece in a heat press, clamp it and leave it in this position for a certain time.
At this moment, the sublimation process itself takes place, therefore it is very important to follow the technological recommendations (temperature and time parameters) for working with materials and blanks for sublimation printing!
For information on the clamping force, time and temperature conditions, it is better to check with the sellers of sublimation blanks.
4. We receive the finish product.
After the end of the specify time, open the heat press and take out the finish product, while it is necessary to immediately remove the sublimation paper from the workpiece. As we said at the beginning of the article, the sublimation process occurs when the print is heat and press against the workpiece, therefore, after removing the product, this process continues, albeit not so intensively. This can lead to blur or unclear images.
Pros and cons of sublimation printing
The main advantage of sublimation printing is the ability to transfer full-color photographic quality images. Also, the advantages of this technology include the following:
- the ability to print images on different surfaces (stone, ceramics, glass, metal, fabrics), the main thing is that the workpiece is covered with sublimation varnish. Polyester fabric is use for printing on fabrics;
- resistance of the print image to external factors.
Disadvantages of sublimation printing technology:
- the ability to print only on workpieces with a sublimation coating;
- the ability to print only on polyester fabrics;
- for correct color rendering it is necessary to use only white blanks.
Our online store offers a wide range of blanks, consumables and equipment for the production of advertising and souvenir products using sublimation technology.