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Printing Sublimation Printing

Dye Sublimation of T-shirt Printing

What is dye-sublimation?

Dye sublimation is a process used for printing and decorating apparel and other ranges of sublimation-friendly surfaces like banners, coffee mugs, signs, plaques, and cell phone covers. Suppose you want to understand the science of the sublimation process. In that case, it is heat and pressure applied to a solid surface. The printing color turns into a gas without liquifying. The pigment becomes a part of the fabric fibers instead of only staying on the surface. 

In the dye-sublimation printing technique, the print image is transferred to paper via liquid gel ink and then passed onto the substrate or fabric using a heat press for an outcome. As a result, there is a boom in the garment printing business for people, who own the mechanism and machinery for the sublimation of fabrics.

Sublimation Printing Machine
Sublimation Printing Machine

Suggested Read: The Complete Guide to Sublimation Printing

The print quality through the sublimation process is as good as permanent; the resolution is high with vibrant full-color print. The reason behind that the dye is infused into the garment’s fabric and absorbed by the fibers thoroughly compared to other printing methods [DTG or screen print], which only cover the outer surface. This is why the clothing items printed through the sublimated process will not crack, dim down or peel off from the substrate.

Best T-shirt Material For Sublimation 

The best material for sublimation printing is 100% polyester, but other polyester blends are used for this particular printing method. We will give you an overview of the printing quality of the fabric material and what it offers in terms of usage and utility. 

Best T-shirt Material For Sublimation
Best T-shirt Material For Sublimation

100% Polyester 

Polyester is an artificial material, and the T-shirts made out of this material are very lightweight and have a silk-ish feel to the cloth compared to the cotton fabric. This is the best choice for sublimation printing. It is a favorite fabric for sportswear, activewear athleisure niche. 

Polyester Characteristics
Polyester Characteristics

Usually, such fabric material does not absorb sweat. Therefore, it can be uncomfortable to wear in hot weather, but it is perfect for cooler climates. The T-shirts made of polyester have a natural stretch. It is comfortable, heat resistant, water-resistant, and wrinkle-free. 

People Wearing Polyester Sportswear
People Wearing Polyester Sportswear

Polyester Cotton Blends

Polyester cotton blend is available in various blend proportions. Still, the most commonly used is 50/50 and 35/65. So the first figure is the polyester, and the second is the cotton blending percentage. For sublimation printing, the thumb rule is that the more the polyester the better the quality of the print in the sense of image vibrancy, which means as the cotton percentage rises, the printing image on the t-shirts looks less bright compared to the print quality on the pure polyester shirt. 

Also Read: Polyester vs Cotton vs Blends: Which One Is Better?

Usually, the polyester cotton blended fabric is used to make beddings, apparel for upholstery, and t-shirts. They are more breathable than polyester and can be worn for workwear for formal and semi-casual occasions. 

Polyester-spandex Blends (85/15)

This blend is a soft and durable fabric when combined with cotton. The spandex, also called Elastane or lycra, is known for its elasticity and retains the original shape as a core quality. It contains 85 percent polyester mix with 15 percent of spandex. So naturally, sportswear businesses use it frequently in their clothing range. It is also a sublimation print-friendly blend.

Girl Wearing Blended Sportswear
Girl Wearing Blended Sportswear

Tri-blend T-shirt Fabric

Tri-blend fabric for t-shirts is a combination of polyester, cotton, and rayon. Rayon is unique as it is a manmade fabric but is not considered synthetic because it is created using wood pulp as raw material. Another very interesting fact about this fabric is that it changes its feel, i.e., silk, cotton, linen, and wool if manufactured through different techniques. 

From the sublimation printing point of view, it gives different results according to the production process. Therefore, it is equally recommended for this garment printing technique.

Tri-blend T-shirt Fabric
Tri-blend T-shirt Fabric

Benefits of  Sublimation Printing of T-shirts

There are many benefits when you choose the sublimation printing technique for your t-shirt. The artwork you print on your tee will stretch with the fabric and come back to its original shape instead of cracking up. The quality of printing is high res; the color palette is unlimited and almost fade-proof. The ink or colors would not bleed, rub or peel off even after frequent use. The T-shirts made of pure or high polyester blends are washable in machines, and they stay anew for a longer time compared to cotton.  

Final words

The custom T-shirt printing options are unlimited, but the sublimation technique has unique features and quality, which is worthwhile. The best part about the sublimation process is that it is a heat press technique that skips liquifying the gel ink. That turns it into pigment gas which becomes a part of the fabric during the process. Polyester is the best choice of material when it comes to print through the sublimation method. Other polyester blends work well too, which are mentioned in the article above.  

Images Source: Shutter Stock

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