Dye Sublimation is a printing process for decorating polyester or other synthetic fabrics and materials. It is accomplished by printing a special ink that is a disperse dye suspended in a liquid solvent, like water. The images are initially printed on coated heat-resistant transfer paper as a reverse image of the final design, which is then transferred onto polyester/synthetic fabric in a heat press operating at a temperature around 180 to 210 C (375 F). Under high temperature and pressure, the dye turns into a gas and permeates the fabric and then solidifies into its fibers. The fabric is permanently dyed so it can be washed without damaging the quality of the image.The result is a soft-hand print and excellent color reproduction.
This technique works best on white or light colored polyester fabric with a minimum polyester content of 50% with the best results being achieved with 100% polyester content.
Colored garments can be sublimated however, there are a few things to consider: There is no way to apply white sublimated ink to a colored garment, Anything white in the imprint will become garment color, when a colored imprint is applied to a colored garment the ink colors are altered by the garments base color.
Sublimation lets you decorate from seam to seam with full, vibrant color. And since heat is used to infuse the ink into the fabric – rather than just sitting on top – it’s less prone to fading.