What is the difference between sublimation and print?

We wanted to make this post especially for you, because generally, printing and sublimation as a term are often confused when it comes to making prints on T-shirts. However, these two terms have marked differences both in their procedure and in the materials that each of them uses. That is why we will now detail the differences between these two printing techniques, so often used nowadays.

Transfer printing vs. sublimation, which technique is best for you?

Before giving you the differences between sublimation and transfer printing, it is necessary to define them as follows:

Sublimation technique

This technique is also known as heat-setting. It is the process by which ink is printed on textiles by means of heat, where the ink changes from a solid to a gaseous state. To execute the sublimation technique you need absorbent paper, specialised inks, a printer and a heat press. For this type of technique you will have to use polyester T-shirts, as when you place the plate to print the image, the ink adheres by chemical reaction perfectly on this type of textile.

The sublimation technique is currently the most popular technique for high quality personalised prints.

Transfer technique

In order to use the transfer technique, the textile material of the T-shirts must be cotton. To make prints using this technique, you will need a printer that contains pigment inks. Once you have the design to be printed, place the transfer paper on the cotton t-shirt and apply heat and pressure with an iron for a certain period of time.

Differences between sublimation and transfer techniques

Among the most notable differences between sublimation and transfer printing are the following:

  • In the sublimation technique, the printing must be done with synthetic inks or polymers, on T-shirts made of polyester fabric in order to offer greater durability. In addition, this technique can be used on other types of textiles that have been previously coated with polymer-based paint. Unlike transfer printing, where the designs can only be printed on cotton-based T-shirts, so that the print can offer durability.
  • The printing of your design with the sublimation technique should be carried out on T-shirts with white or light-coloured fabrics, as the inks used for this type of technique are transparent, and when using T-shirts with strong colours, these inks can be contaminated. The transfer can be carried out on t-shirts of different colours without any problem.
  • The sublimation printing technique has the advantage that the ink can last for many years when printed on flannel. With the transfer technique, however, the print begins to crack after a while.

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