6 Alternative to Sublimation Printing for Classic Results

Sublimation printing is a popular printing method among those who are into the printing business or using it for personal use. But sometimes it limits you from your creativity or printing in bulk. Although there are many alternative ways to do printing which can even give you better results.

6 Alternative to Sublimation Printing

In today’s time, there are many different ways to do printing but today, we are going to cover Top 6 alternative methods to sublimation printing. Some of them can be more inexpensive and some of them can help you to achieve better results in your project.

Those top 6 alternative methods to sublimation printing are,

  • Heat Transfer
  • DTG(direct to garment)
  • Screen Printing
  • Vinyl Cutting
  • Inkjet Printing
  • Hand and Spray Printing

Heat Transfer

Heat transfer printing is one of the most known printing methods in which you transfer the print from a sheet on your substrate using a heat press machine.

In heat transfer printing we print the design on the sheet transfer paper, then we transfer that design from the transfer sheet to adhesive paper using a heat press machine. Then you press the design onto the substrate like a shirt using the heat press. You then peel away the adhesive paper and you are left with a printed design.

Requirements:

  • Printer: The printer is used to print the design you want to transfer onto the substrate. You can create your own design on a computer or can buy any online too.
  • Heat Press: Heat press is the most essential component in heat press transfer printing, you need it to transfer the design from transfer sheet to adhesive sheet and then from adhesive sheet to your substrate.
  • Adhesive and Transfer Paper Sheet: You need an Adhesive and Transfer paper sheet to get printed the design from the printer and then on the substrate.
  • Substrate: Substrate could be anything you want to heat press such as mugs, shirts, caps, or any garment you want to do heat transfer printing on. 
  • Ink and Other Accessories: Ink should be of high quality, only then it can give the best results and get printed on the substrate correctly. Other accessories like simple heat-resisting sheets can be found in any common household.

Bonus Tip:

Always use original Ink with the printer you are using, it can give you much better and vibrant results.

PROS and CONS of Heat Transfer

Pros

It can be used for most shapes such as mugs, caps, shirts, etc.

You can do heat transfer printing on most of the colors which may include light or dark color garments.

You can use the heat transfer printing method on many surfaces like wood, ceramic, metal, aluminum, polyester, or cotton.

It gives you full-color vibrant designs when heat pressed on your substrate.

Cons

It leaves a thin layer of print on top of your fabric.

DTG – Direct To Garment Printing

Direct to garment printing or DTG is the same as it sounds like, in this method of printing you are printing directly on the substrate itself. It is a relatively new method but due to its features and quickness in the process, it’s getting popular day by day.

You first need to spray pre-treatment liquid onto the shirt so the DTG ink is able to bond with the actual substrate. Now insert the shirt into the printer and load the design. When printing is completed now you can put it under the heat press to cure the design on the shirt more permanently.

Requirements:

  • Printer: The basic requirement for DTG printing is the printer itself because direct-to-garment printing requires a special printer.
  • Heat Press: It is required to heat press the printed shirt to cure and make it more long-lasting and permanent.
  • Pre-treatment Liquid & Sprayer: You need pre-treatment liquid before printing DTG because it makes the DTG ink able to bond the substrate, and for that, you need a sprayer too.
  • Ink and Cartridges: It usually comes with the printer itself.

Bonus Tip:

Make sure that your pre-treated the garment with pre-treated liquid before inserting it into the printer. Otherwise print will not be able to bond with the shirt or substrate correctly.

PROS and CONS of DTG Printing

Pros

It is relative very fast and time-saving.

Easy to do process with constantly same results on every shirt.

DTG printed shirts can last 50-60 washes.

It can print full-color vibrant colorful designs.

Cons

You can only print the substrates which are flat and can be fitted into the printer because it’s printing directly onto the garment. That’s why it’s mostly used for printing shirts, masks, socks, etc.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is one of the oldest but results given method. It works great now as well. The process of screen printing is simple. You simply make or buy the screen of silk mesh and wood or aluminum frame. Clean the screen with water to remove any dust or dirt particles.

Now apply the emulsion to the screen. For that put some emulsion into the scoop coder and fill it in less than half. Now apply the emulsion on both sides of the screen. Make sure that the ratio of both sides is the same. Let the emulsion dry and meanwhile, wash your scoop coder right away.

Print your design on transparency coated paper or acetate film, and the design must be in Black or White. Now place the print on the screen and put the clear glass on it so it cant be able to shake. Expose your screen to the sunlight or UV light. 

TIP: A quick tip here, do all the processes until exposing the screen to light in the dark or low lightroom. Because emulsion reacts when it exposes to light and as a result it becomes hard.

Once the screen becomes hard wash the screen with water and after washing you will see the clear design of print on the screen. Now place the screen on the substrate and adjust the height and width according to your need. Put some ink on the screen and drag it down and up with a squeegee. You can use water-based or plastisol, you can use any in any color. But we recommend using plastisol if you are just starting.

Let the Ink gets dry and if you wanna speed the drying process you can use a heat gun or a large heater specifically used for this.

Requirements:

  • Screen: You can buy the ready-made screen or make yours with a wooden or aluminum frame and a silk mesh. You can use a cotton mesh too but silk mesh is better.
  • Ink: Ink needs to be very specific, you can use any color but make sure it a water-based or plastisol. Plastisol ink is recommended to use for beginners.
  • Emulsion: Emulsion is a liquid that becomes hard when exposed to light, it is used on the screen.
  • Other Accessories: Some other small accessories like Squeegee, Glass, Sheet, and scoop coder are also required.

PROS and CONS of Screen Printing

Pros

It can be the best method for printing if you have a large number of the same designs to print.

Ink gets deeply into the fabric which makes it more long-lasting.

Easy and simple to do.

You just need to wash the screen and you can use different color inks for the same design.

Cons

The working area gets dirty.

Multiple screens are needed for multiple designs.

Vinyl Cutting

This is the most interesting printing method by using vinyl printer. The method includes some simple steps like other methods, first, you need to print your design. The tricky part comes in, you need to print every part or section of the design separately in their actual colours. 

Cut down the edges very very carefully and then place the designs one by one on the garment and heat press it every time you put a new piece on the previous one.  After getting heat pressed all the pieces your design is ready and it somehow also looks like screen printing even though it isn’t. You can use a vinyl cutter as well for cutting the printed print, and it’s better too.

Requirements:

  • Computer: Used to prepare designs you wanna print
  • Printer: For printing the design after separating them in computer 
  • Vinyl Cutter: It is used to cut the designs perfectly after printing them.
  • Vinyl Sheets: Make sure your print on the vinyl sheet, not on a regular one.
  • Heat Press: Most used accessory in any printing method, is also required in this method.

Bonus Tip:

Instead of cutting the design printed on a vinyl sheet by hand, use a vinyl cutter. It can give much better results.

PROS and CONS of Vinyl Cutting

Pros

Detailed print with vibrant colors.

Exciting and interesting process.

No cracks will be shown in any layer.

The design of the print can be adjusted as they all are on different sheets.

Cons

The working area gets dirty.

Makes the shirt a bit heavier.

Inkjet Printing

Inkjet printing is a method widely used back in the day. Many people use it in the present time as well. Inkjet printing works on dots, it produces the dots of ink on the printer and these dots are smaller than the human hair in diameter. 

When millions of these dots combine together they form an image and this image is of high quality too. You can use inkjet printing for many things according to your need. The best thing is that it is affordable and can be a good option for home use printing work.

Requirements:

  • Inkjet Printer: The basic need for printing the print.
  • Transfer Paper: High-quality transfer paper is a must for transferring the print onto the shirt.
  • Heat press: Required for heat pressing the print on the shirt or substrate.
  • Substrate: Substrate itself should be high quality and better if its in a light color.

PROS and CONS of Inkjet Printing

Pros

It can print any color.

Printed colors are made up of ink drop because of which the detailing is classic.

Any normal ink can be used.

Cons

Not recommended for high volume printing.

Need maintenance from time to time.

Hand and Spray Printing

The easiest and cheapest method of printing out there. It’s the same as its name sounds like, you spray the paint on the cut paper of the design you wanna print.

Simply print your design on any sheet, trace it on another paper with a pencil and using an Exacto knife cut the exact print. Now place the paper on the shirt or substrate and tape it around the so it can not be able to shake while spraying.

Now spray gently on the paper and it will be sprayed and printed on the shirt, always remember to do gently spraying. Otherwise, it will be blended on the shirt around the print corners.

Now remove the paper and your print is ready and printed

Requirements:

  • Spray Paint: The basic need of the hand spraying method. You can use any color of the spray.
  • Paper Sheet: It is required for tracing and then covering the shirt while spraying.
  • Exacto or Box Cutter: You can use any of these but Exacto is recommended to cut the print cause its easy to handle.
  • Substrate: You can use any material garment and any color. Just make sure that your spray pain color gonna show and looks good on your substrate color.

PROS and CONS of Hand and Spray Printing

Pros

Easy process.

Cheapest methods.

Fast results.

Can be used on any color garment and any color of the spray can be used as well.

Cons

The colors of the print get fade away with the passage of time.

Frequently Ask Questions (FAQ’s)