What Is Sublimation Printing and How Does It Work Sublimationhome Detailed Guide

You might be wondering why people are getting into sublimation printing and even some making it their profession. What is exactly sublimation printing is and how does it even work?

So, don’t worry because we got you. In today’s article, you will be learning everything involved in the sublimation printing process, how sublimation printing works, and its equipment.

What Is Sublimation Printing

What is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a process where ink molecules are pressed through a heated metal plate and onto the fabric. The ink molecules then change from solid to gas and bond with the fabric fiber. Since they’re not penetrating the fiber of the material it won’t fade, crack or peel even after repeated washes. It’s safe to say that if you want your clothes printed and the print lasts as long as the original cloth then sublimation printing is the way you have to choose.

People use sublimation printing to apply pictures to their clothes. That’s because the ink becomes part of the clothing rather than just laying on top of it like with traditional printing. There are many advantages that come with sublimation printing but there are also disadvantages that you should know.

  1. Long-lasting print.
  2. The print won’t fade or crack even if you use the item every day.
  3. The colors are more vibrant.
  4. The colors pop much better than regular printing techniques. Since you can pick a much wider range of colors with sublimation printing, the print will be richer and brighter as well. you can also how to make sublimation brighter.
  5. Ink is actually absorbed into the fabric.

Requirements For The Sublimation Printing

There are multiple accessories that are needed for sublimation printing such as a sublimation printer, heat press machine, sublimation paper, and other small accessories.

No.1 Sublimation printer (or digital printer):

The most important part of the sublimation printing process is having a high-quality sublimation printer. There are many brands out in the market that gives you a high-quality printer for an affordable price.

Sublimation is used with sublimation ink to print the design on the paper/sheet later which is transferred on the substrate by the heat. So, the quality of the print is very much dependent on how well printed is your image in the sheet.

No.2 Heat Press Machine:

A heat press machine is a machine that presses down on the digitally printed cloth, making your design stick to your garment, and it requires a good amount of pressure in order to make sure every inch of the design is fully pressed down onto the fabric.

Heat press machines in the market have many different sizes and designs. If you are planning to press objects other than fabrics then you can also do it with heat press machines because these machines are adjustable according to the size of the object that needs heat pressing.

No.3 Sublimation Paper:

Sublimation paper is used to print designs on clothing and other materials with a heat press machine. The transfer of the image from the paper to your material is called sublimation. It’s one type of digital printing process that allows you to create custom T-shirts and more!

You can do the sublimation printing without the sublimation paper but then you have to do a few additional steps with the paper because standard paper can not be used for sublimation printing directly.

No.4 Other Accessories:

In sublimation printing, there are many other accessories that are being used in the process such as butcher paper, heat gloves, and a cutting tool.

Butcher paper is used to prevent the ink to get in contact with the heat press machine. This error rarely happens so don’t worry about it.

Heat gloves are used to protect the hands of the operator while using a heat press machine. You can also use an oven mitt or grill glove for this purpose. A cutting tool is used to cut sublimation paper into smaller pieces that fit your substrate size properly.

Process Of Sublimation Printing

Now that you know all the equipment and accessories required to do sublimation printing, you might be wondering about the process. Let’s take a look at what happens during this digital printing technique.

Step 1:

The first step is to prepare all the accessories and ready your design or image printed on the sublimation paper which you want to transfer on the substrate i.e t-shirt or ceramic plate.

Step 2:

Preheat the heat press machine and then place your substrate on the heat press and put the printed paper on it. Now tape the corners of the paper using heat resisting tape so it can not be shaken.

Step 3:

Start heat pressing the substrate and paper. Heat, pressure, and timing depend on the machine itself and the substrate you are sublimation so adjust accordingly.

Step 4:

Once heat pressing is done, now remove the tape and paper from the substrate while wearing the heat-resisting gloves because at that time the substrate will be hot.

Your sublimation process is now completed and you have your sublimated product such as a t-shirt is ready!

What Can I Do With Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a very large and wide industry. People are building their businesses in this industry and you can do the same. You just need to pick one product to sublimate and start sublimating those and sell on online platforms such as Etsy or Amazon.

The most common products that are sublimated using the sublimation printing technique are T-shirts, ceramic plates, mugs, and more. With that, you can make and offer custom printed shirts and designs, and it’s really an untapped market where you can be the leader.

If you follow all the tips and steps mentioned above and use a good amount of research and dedication while starting your sublimation printing journey, you surely gonna be successful.


The image/design printed lasts very long.

The process is much easier and cheaper.

Ink gets absorbed in fabrics and becomes the permanent part of the substrate.

It is possible to print the images on any fabric.

You can not feel anything like a layer or something on the substrate.


Not all products can be printed using the sublimation printing technique. It depends on the substrate you are using.

A few products might not result in a good finished product after heat pressing if directly done with standard paper..

Best Place To Buy Sublimation Printing Substrates

So, after learning about what is sublimation printing and how it works, let’s have a look at where you can buy the best and cheapest sublimation printing accessories.

There are many shops online where you can pick your product but make sure that they are reliable. The market leader and trusted one is amazon. After that, you can choose Etsy as well. You can find all of your needed accessories for sublimation printing from here quite easily.

We also have multiple articles on the best sublimation printers, hoodies, and many more. You can check those out as well.

What makes a printer sublimation printer?

The main difference between a printer and a sublimation printer is the ink and cartridges. You can convert any printer into a sublimation printer. The only requirement is, that printer should have replaceable ink cartridges. you just need to replace it and fill it with sublimation ink. Moreover, you can use specifically sublimation printers for sublimation as well, such as Epson 2720 or sawgrass SG500 and many more.

The only point to be noticed is that it prints vivid and vibrant colors with sublimation ink and does not get clogged.

FAQs – How does sublimation printing work

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