Do you want to print on hard surfaces such as
porcelain mugs, plastic plates then Dye Sublimation printing is the answer!
Dye Sublimation is the method of applying an image
to specially coated ceramics, metals and polyester cloth, using three main
ingredients: sublimation ink, heat and pressure.
Sublimation ink is unique in its ability to convert
from a solid to a gas without going through a liquid form. (Just like dry
ice.) The conversion is initiated by heat and controlled with pressure and
time. Hard items such as ceramic, fibre board, metals, etc. require a
special coating to accept the sublimation inks. You must purchase the mugs,
tiles, metals, etc. with the coating already on them, it is not something
you can coat yourself. When you apply to 100% polyester (e.g mouse mats) you
do not need any coating, it is applied directly to the 100% polyester
You can purchase
dye sublimation ink recommended only for Piezo Head
technology used in Epson / Mimaki / Mutoh ink jet printers to do sublimation printing. Epson do not supply the printers with
these specialty sublimation inks but by installing a Bulk Feed system, or
refillable cartridges, for example
you can use the sublimation inks - these you can readilly buy from many specialist ink suppliers.
You may also need the heat transfer paper that you would need to print with these inks. The heat transfer
paper for sublimation printing has a coating on it. This is so the inks do not soak into the paper. After
you print the transfer paper it is then placed on the product to be applied
with a heat press.
You can switch your printer back to using regular inks at any time. However,
it is not practical to switch back and forth. If you are setting up a
Sublimation Printing System you should not
expect to use the same printer for other purposes.
sublimation is a process that uses a special heat sensitive dye to print
graphics and text onto paper. This is called a transfer. The paper is then
placed on a sublimatible item and both are placed into a heat press for
about 20~45 seconds at 180-230 degrees.
When the cycle (sublimation) is completed, the image on the paper has
transferred to the item and has actually become a part of the surface. If
you run your finger across the surface of a sublimated plate you will feel
The reason for this is that sublimation is always done on a polyester,
polymer, or polymer coated item. At high temperatures, the solid dye
converts into a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The same high
temperature opens the pores of the polymer and allows the gas to enter. When
the temperature drops, the pores close and the gas reverts to a solid state.
It has now become a part of the polymer.
For this reason, true dye sublimation cannot be done on natural materials,
like 100% cotton. Natural fibers and non-coated materials have no "pores" to
Inkjet printers use a liquid filled inkjet cartridge that has a suspension
of the dye in it and requires transfers to be printed on special coated
inkjet paper. The printer should be dedicated to sublimation, as the
cartridges cannot be easily or cheaply switched with regular cartridges, for
regular document printing.
Dye Sublimation Inks
Sublimation Ink has been used in printing on the materials as Mug, Tile,
Wood, Polyester, Nylon, Plastic, etc that are impossible with normal digital
After printing an image on the transfer paper, it is then transferred using the high pressures and temperatures