Which is better sublimation vs Transfer printing?

Some people still confuse these two terms and generally assume them to be the same. However, they are not. Sublimation prints and transfer prints have differences in performance.

Sublimation is a technique used to print fabrics that contain polyester, unlike transfer, a technique that consists of printing cotton fabrics, either light or dark colours. Next, we detail the processes:


Sublimation, also called thermofixation, is a process in which the ink is printed on the fabric by means of heat, passing from a solid state to a gaseous state without passing through the liquid. For this type of printing it is necessary to use special sublimation inks, a printer adapted to print special sublimation paper and the material to be printed, which must be polyester fabric. Once the image is printed with sublimation ink, the print is placed on the shirt in the thermal plate and the printing is done for a certain time, at which point the sublimation occurs; solid ink evaporates and is transferred to the fabric by chemical reaction. The result is a stable, long-lasting chemical bond of excellent quality.


For this process, a printer with special pigmented inks is necessary to generate better resistance and print on transfer paper. The material to be printed must be cotton fabric. Once the design is printed, the transfer paper is placed on the fabric, then pressure and temperature are applied by means of an iron for a certain time, depending on the transfer paper used.

Which method is right for your business?

Choosing which one is right for your business depends on the type and color of clothing and substrate you want to decorate. You must also consider the amount of money you are willing to invest. Sublimation is a great choice if your business focuses on or primarily focuses on white and light-colored polyester apparel. Your prints will have the lightest touch and will be durable and washable.

However, if you want to print on any color or material type, thermal transfer paper will be your best choice.

Sublimation and heat transfer paper are good clothing decoration methods. Ultimately, what is best depends on the needs of your business and your customers.

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Differences between sublimation printing and transfer printing

The main differences between sublimation and transfer lie in that sublimation must be printed with synthetic polymeric inks on a polymeric surface, as is the case with polyester. Sublimation can be used on other materials that have been previously coated with a layer of paint or polymeric ink, on the other hand, the transfer can only be done on cotton fabric since if it is printed on another surface it is easily removed.

Another difference is that sublimation on fabrics must be on white fabric, since sublimation inks are transparent and are contaminated with colored fabric.

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