This article has tips, techniques, and trends to get you started using dye-sublimation equipment and materials.
By Cara Cherry
According to Michelle Roberts, a textile and apparel consultant who helps manufacturers and suppliers solve a variety of textile-based issues and the owner of Technical Textile Solutions in Grosse Pointe, MI, “Dye sublimation requires extremely high temperatures and if the heat press temperature is not high enough, the print will not set properly and will cause the color to wash off or rub off onto light-colored upholstery or other surfaces. Decorators choosing to use this technology must perform their own periodic testing to ensure that their print temperatures and settings are yielding printed garments that will not bleed dye once washed.”
Substrates Dye sublimation can only be achieved on polyester fabrics or materials that have been treated with a polyester resin coating (Figure 4). Because sublimation is so versatile, there are literally hundreds of products available that can be sublimated. Soft substrates include polyester garments and 50/50 blend T-shirts. Hard substrates include products made from ceramics, metal, and glass, such as mugs, plaques, clocks, coasters, and a wide range of promotional products.
When it comes to garment decorating, there are numerous options and methods and so many choices that it’s difficult to distinguish one from another. Embroidery, screen printing, heat transfer materials, and DTG printing each offer their own unique opportunities and benefits. Today, there is a significant amount of dye sublimation being done by garment decorators (Figure 5).
Dye sublimation is different from most other methods of decorating, because of its unlimited use of colors and ability to blend and actually become part of a garment. Since it is done with heat and gasses, there are no screen charges or limitations on the number of colors that can be used. Roberts notes that fabrics continue to retain their feel and drape, no matter how rich the color is, because the dyes become part of the fabric and are not left on the surface.
Dye sublimation can be somewhat confusing at first.
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