Posted By Ahijoy On April 10, 2023
What Is Sublimation Paper? The Complete Guide
Sublimation paper is a special kind of sheet that is used in the process of printing. In the world of crafts and fabric designing, there are many different types of processes that are employed to transfer exquisite designs onto compatible substrates. Sublimation is one of them.
If you are into crafting, you may know that it is an ever evolving realm in which new products and technology are introduced quite often. Sublimation is one of the most famous digital printing technologies that uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as fabric, plastic, or ceramic. It requires a special type of paper with a particular coating over it. The design is printed on it using sublimation ink and then transferred onto the substrate.
Features Of Sublimation Paper
In order to transfer vibrant and beautiful designs through sublimation, it is highly important to use the special sublimation paper. It has a coating on one side typically made of a polymer material that is able to transfer ink to the substrate under heat and pressure.
You can easily customize and print any merchandise made of compatible materials using sublimation paper. In this process, the image is first printed onto the sublimation paper using a compatible inkjet printer with special inks. The printed image is then transferred onto the target material by applying heat and pressure with a heat press.
The sublimation ink turns into a gas, and the gas is then absorbed by the target material, resulting in a permanent transfer of the image. Sublimation works best with polyester or with fabrics that have at least 85% of it. The poly fibers allow the absorption of the ink well.
There are many brands in the market selling sublimation paper. It comes in a variety of sizes and weights to accommodate different printing needs, and it is important to select the right type for the specific application. The quality of the sublimation paper can affect the final output, so choosing a high-quality paper can result in a sharper, more vibrant image transfer. To avoid making any mistakes make sure it includes these three qualities which make it a promising sublimation paper.
- When heated, it releases the dyes onto your merchandise.
- It should hold the sublimation ink well, not letting the micro ink dots gather and blur it.
- It should resist the heat from your heat press.
Good sublimation paper should have several features to ensure optimal printing results. Here’s what to look for in a premium quality sublimation paper:
The coating on sublimation paper is typically made of a blend of polymers and other materials that have been optimized to work with sublimation inks. It should be of a high-quality that is able to absorb and hold the sublimation ink without smudging, bleeding, or fading during the transfer process.
The coating serves several purposes in the sublimation process. It helps to control the rate of ink absorption, prevent the ink from spreading or running, and protect the paper from curling or wrinkling during the transfer process. It also helps to improve the overall color vibrancy and sharpness of the final print.
The type of coating used on sublimation paper can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific product line. Some coatings may be designed for use with specific types of inks or printers, while others may be more versatile and work well with a range of printing systems. It is important to choose a sublimation paper with a premium coating that is compatible with your specific printing system to ensure the best possible results.
The paper should dry quickly to prevent the smearing of ink and improve the transfer quality. The drying time of sublimation paper can vary depending on its specific type and the printing conditions. In general, sublimation paper has a relatively quick drying time compared to other types of printing paper, as the ink needs to be absorbed quickly and evenly by the coating in order to produce sharp and vibrant prints.
The drying time of the sublimation paper can also depend on factors such as humidity, temperature, and the amount of ink used in the printing process. In high humidity environments, for example, the paper may take longer to dry, while in very dry environments, the paper may dry more quickly.
Most sublimation paper manufacturers will provide information on the expected drying time for their specific products, which can help to ensure optimal printing results. In general, it is best to allow the printed sublimation paper to dry for a few minutes after printing before proceeding with the transfer process. This ensures that the ink is fully absorbed and has had time to set.
This is an important feature of the sublimation paper that is determined by the type and quality of the coating used on it. It should be able to absorb the sublimation ink quickly and efficiently, without causing the ink to run or pool on the surface of the paper. This results in sharp and vibrant prints that are long-lasting and resistant to fading or peeling.
To ensure optimal ink absorption by the sublimation paper, it is important to use the correct settings when printing. This includes adjusting the ink density, print speed, and resolution to suit the specific type of paper being used. It is also important to avoid over-saturating the paper with ink, as this can lead to smudging or bleeding during the transfer process.
Size And Weight
Sublimation paper typically comes in rolls or sheets of various sizes and weights depending on the manufacturer and intended use. This can have an impact on the quality of the final transfer. Thicker paper can handle more ink and produce more vibrant colors, while lighter paper may be more affordable but may produce less vivid results.
The different sizes of the sublimation paper give you the liberty to buy as much of it as you want without any wastage. The most common sizes are 8.5" x 11", 11" x 17", and 13" x 19", although larger sizes may also be available.
The weight of sublimation paper is typically measured in grams per square meter (gsm). The weight can vary depending on the intended use of the paper, but most sublimation papers range from 60 gsm to 120 gsm. If your project has high color saturation, you will use the heavier one. It is best to use paper that has the weight of anywhere between 90 to 120 gsm. If the weight is lower, your sublimation paper will be more affected by humidity.
The sublimation paper should be durable enough to withstand the heat and pressure of the transfer process without tearing or wrinkling. Its durability can vary depending on the quality of the paper and the conditions in which it is stored and used.
In general, high-quality sublimation paper can last for several years without fading or deteriorating, even when exposed to direct sunlight or other environmental factors. However, it's important to store sublimation paper in a cool, dry place to avoid exposure to moisture, which can cause the paper to curl or become unusable.
The durability of sublimation paper also depends on the printing conditions. For example, using a high-quality sublimation printer with appropriate ink and heat press settings can produce more durable and long-lasting transfers compared to using lower-quality equipment or incorrect settings.
The cost of sublimation paper can vary depending on the brand, size, weight, and quantity purchased. Generally, higher quality sublimation paper is more expensive than lower quality options. For example, a pack of 100 sheets of 8.5" x 11" sublimation paper can cost anywhere from $15 to $50, depending on the brand, quality and weight of the paper. Similarly, a roll of 13" x 19" sublimation paper can cost anywhere from $20 to $100 or more.
It's important to note that while lower-cost sublimation paper may be more affordable, it may also produce lower-quality transfers and may not be as durable in the long run. It’s worth investing in a higher quality sublimation paper to ensure that your transfers look vibrant and professional and last for a long time.
Whether you are printing a design on a shirt or a mug, the sublimation paper will help you achieve the look. The process is quite quick and manageable.
How To Use Sublimation Paper?
Sublimation paper is the key component of the printing process. You will need the following tools along with it:
- A compatible blank on which the print will be transferred.
- Sublimation printer.
- Sublimation inks.
- Heat press
- Design software.
- Heat resistant tape.
Step-By Step Process Of Using Sublimation Paper
- Step 1: Before you start printing, the first and most important part is to design what you have in mind. Use a graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to create a decal or select an existing one to print. Do not forget to flip it horizontally.
- Step 2: The next step is to print the design using the special sublimation printer and ink. Load the sublimation paper into the printer keeping the bright white side for printing the design. Once it is done, keep the sublimation paper aside for drying.
- Step 3: Clean and prepare the substrate by removing any dust or debris and ensuring that it is free of moisture. If it's a shirt, pre-press it to remove creases.
- Step 4: Place the sublimation paper with the printed design onto the substrate, ensuring that it is positioned correctly. Use a heat press to apply heat and pressure. This will cause the ink on the sublimation paper to turn into gas and bond with the substrate, creating a permanent transfer of the design.
- Step 5: Once the transfer is complete, carefully remove the sublimation paper from the substrate, taking care not to smudge or damage the transfer. Allow the transfer to cool completely before handling or using the substrate.
The specific instructions and settings while using the sublimation paper may vary depending on the type of substrate and equipment. It's important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to achieve the best results.
Benefits Of Sublimation Paper
Printing through sublimation paper has many advantages that are as follows:
- As the ink transfers into the fabric, it stays on permanently.
- The fabric can be washed thoroughly without damage. It is recommended to wash it with hands though.
- The color stays vibrant for years if taken care of.
- This is an easy and fast procedure of printing.
- Through sublimation paper you can print on fabrics, especially the ones with polyester, mugs, ceramics, tiles, aluminum and metal sheets and so on.
Using The Sublimation Paper Successfully
To get the best results, following are the tips to follow when using sublimation paper:
Do Not Compromise On Quality
The quality of your sublimation paper can have a significant impact on the final result of your transfers. Choose a high-quality paper that is specifically designed for sublimation printing to achieve the best results.
Trim It After Printing
After you have successfully printed the image on the sublimation paper let it dry then trim around the image before pressing it. This will help in accurate placement on the substrate.
If your sublimation paper has a backing, make sure to remove it. Not all sublimation papers have backing but some do.
Use The Right Ink
Use special sublimation inks that are specifically designed for your printer and paper. Using the wrong ink can cause the transfer to fade or peel over time.
Check The Printer Settings
Adjust the printing settings to ensure that the ink is applied evenly and accurately to the paper. This will help prevent smudging and ensure that the transfer is crisp and clear.
Prepare The Substrate
Make sure that the substrate you are printing on is clean and free of any dirt or moisture. This will help ensure that the transfer adheres properly and does not peel or fade over time.
Secure The Design
Use heat-resistant tape to secure your design once it is ready to be transferred from sublimation paper to the merchandise.
The Right Amount Of Pressure Matters
When using a heat press, it's important to apply the right amount of pressure on the sublimation paper to ensure that the transfer is even and properly adhered to the substrate. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding this.
How Humidity Affects Sublimation Paper?
High humidity can have a significant impact on sublimation paper. Here’s what it can do:
- Sublimation paper can curl or warp when exposed to high humidity, which can make it difficult to load into the printer or align properly on the substrate.
- It can also cause the paper to absorb more moisture from the air, which can affect the way the ink is absorbed by it. This can lead to poor quality transfers with faded colors or inconsistent coverage.
- It can slow down the drying time of sublimation ink on the paper, making it more difficult to achieve a crisp, clear transfer. This can result in smudging or blurring of the design.
How To Store Sublimation Paper?
Proper storage is the key to protect your sublimation paper and to ensure that it remains in good condition and produces high-quality transfers. Keep it in a cool dry place away from sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause sublimation paper to yellow or become brittle, reducing its effectiveness. It is better to use a protective cover or sleeve to keep the paper safe from dust and other contaminants.
Frequently Asked Questions
To conclude, the sublimation paper, when used correctly, can give excellent long lasting prints. We have put together everything and anything you need to know about it. You can now resort to sublimation printing and master the art using the right kind of paper for the process. Happy crafting!