Sublimation printing is one of the most popular and affordable ways to design products like t-shirts, tumblers and more. 

What makes it even awesome is that you can print a wide range of designs. Unlike high-tech printing methods, sublimation printing is based on just the basic chemistry. 

In this post we will be answering all of the questions you’d ever want to know about sublimation printing. Let’s get started! 

What is Sublimation printing?

Sublimation (in terms of chemistry) is the transition of a substance directly from a solid to gas state.

Sublimation printing is a technique in which heat is used to transfer dye onto materials (better known as sublimate) such as plastic, paper, fabric and more. This printing method is a great way to create t-shirts with high quality graphics without having to make a huge setup-investment. 

How does Sublimation printing work? 

Sublimation

Now the real question, how does it work? The shortest answer is, the process brings together fabric and ink under excessive heat to transfer the design. 

First the design is printed on sublimation paper, also known as heat transfer paper or sublimation transfers using a dye-sublimation printer. There are many inkjet printers that can be converted to sublimation printers using dye inks. 

Once you have the printed design, it is infused with sublimation blanks. The sublimation blanks are basically blank sublimation products (t-shirts or mugs). 

The sublimation blanks are placed under a heat press machine along with the design-printed sublimation paper for transferring the ink. After 3-5 minutes the solid ink is changed into gaseous form and transferred to the product. 

And the best part is, the designs are both precise and vibrant, provided that you use the temperature and time based on your products. 

What are the pros and cons of sublimation printing?

Sublimation is one of the most affordable, precise and high quality printing methods for fabrics and other surfaces. Let’s talk about the pros and cons –

Pros of sublimation printing

  • Create all over seam to seam design on front and back
  • Unlike other techniques, sublimation printing lets you print on a rigid surface (like mug or coaster).
  • Sublimation creates well-detailed and precise design.
  • Mix acquisitively with fabric and doesn’t feel as an additional layer on garment
  • Sublimation printing is good for small quantity runs.
  • There is no learning curve, you can print products right away.
  • You will find the most vibrant color combination including four-color ink (CMYK) or eight color combinations.
  • There is no additional print run cost, i.e. same print quality on all units.
  • Most unique product categories (blank products) are available in sublimation printing.

Cons of sublimation printing

  • Printed surface must be white or light colored.
  • Need to be careful for accuracy when printing near edges.
  • For non-textile substrates, only items which have a special polyester coating can be used.

What are the different types of printing?

There are multiple printing methods used in clothing as well as other industries for creating design based products. Some of the popular ones are –

  • Screen printing – Screen printing is a technique in which mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate. It is usually used for bulk clothing or volume based productions. 
  • DTG printing – Direct to garment printer is one of the most expensive printing machines. It costs between $10,000 to $35,000 
  • Sublimation – Sublimation printing is the most affordable way for printing your designs on different products and selling them. 

What are the best selling sublimation products?

sublimation mugs

The best part about this printing method is that it allows you to print on a wide range of products. You can print unique designs on fabric or polymers. Some of the top products are  –

  • Mouse Pads, Coasters, Placemats, Jar Openers, Can Wraps & More!
  • Mugs, Steins & More!
  • Vapor Apparel – Main
  • Ceramic, Glass Tiles, Cutting Boards & More!
  • All Tile Accessories
  • Ceramic Plates
  • Tote Bags, Puzzles,
  • Aprons & Baby Bibs
  • Coasters, Can Wrappers, Place Mats
  • Ceramic Ornaments, Stocking Stuffer, Wine Bag
  • Rowmark Sheet Stock, Magnets, Hard Top, Mouse Pads, & Coasters!
  • Light Switch Plates, Shoulder bags, Floor & Car Mats
  • Flags: Car, Home & Banner, Blank Towels, Laptop & iPad Cases
  • iPad & iPhone Cases, Pet Bowls and Acrylic

What are the alternative ways to get sublimation printed products?

You can either make a sublimation printing setup and create products yourself, or use a print on demand service for manufacturing + fulfilling your products (with MOQ as low as 1 item). 

Also, if you want to sell t-shirts or other sublimation products online, you can use an eCommerce platform like Shopify and start selling custom products. For driving sales, use Facebook ads and Google ads , and make sure you optimize it for conversion. 

About the Author

Pulkit Bhardwaj

Founder & Editor

Hey! I'm Pulkit Bhardwaj - an eCommerce aficionado and Shopfiy + WordPress expert. I have been writing around eCommerce for 4+ years. If you want any help related to eCommerce, feel free to reach me out. When I'm not writing here, you can find me testing tools on pulkitbhardwaj.co

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