What is sublimation? Why would it benefit my business?

31 01 2017

I get asked this a lot at trade shows.  They see our impressive sublimation display and want to add it to their business.  But they don’t know what the process is or how it works.

Sublimation is a heat transfer process that transfers special sublimation ink onto 100% polyester materials or polyester coated materials.  The key as you might have guessed is in the sublimation inks.

All you need to start sublimation printing is the following:  A sublimation printer, sublimation inks, heat press, sublimation paper, and a polyester substrate or polyester coated substrate.  These can all be purchased in a single package to make it simpler for new users.

The real definition of sublimation is the process of a solid turning to a gas bypassing the liquid state.  This is exactly what happens in sublimation printing.  A sublimation printer prints the ink on a specially coated paper.  The ink dries and turns into a solid.  When heat and pressure is applied to the sublimation inks on the paper, it quickly turns to gas and is forced into the polyester substrate.  When heat is taken away, the gas becomes trapped in the polyester permanently.

Why would it benefit my business?
With sublimation you can add 1000s of new items to your product offerings.  Sublimation has been around for over 20 years; thus you can source over 1000s of different types of sublimatable blanks that are either made of polyester or are polyester coated.  That alone will attract new customers and allow you to make additional revenue from existing customers.  In addition to new products, the sublimation process prints full color images.  This is huge because a sublimated mug can produce much better gradients and drop shadows than a screen printed mug can.  It’s ideal for photographs!  Also, sublimation has no minimums, it costs the same price to produce one item as it does a hundred items.

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One response

21 03 2017
Rick Henderson

This was very helpful, thank you!

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