Understanding That How Sublimation Printing Works

Understanding That How Sublimation Printing Works

You may never have heard the word subliminal. Let alone sublimation, Let me explain the finer details of the word. Sublimation is a high-tech printing process that is used for printing on-demand apparel. Most businesses advertise Sublimation Polo shirts. Let me explain the process and the pros and cons.


It is simply put a method of printing that prints a design onto fabric using ink and heat. It is a revolutionary technology in the world of apparel, polo shirtsand common shirts can now be designed exactly as you want them to be. If you ever wanted a polo shirt to reflect your own personal design, then a Sublimation Polo shirt or printing for sublimation is the google search you are looking for.

Sublimation Printing Process

Printing for sublimation works by using heat to bring about the perfect marriage of ink and fabric as one. To start the process first the design is printed on special paper. The ink is then turned into a gas by using heat and then the resulting gas perfectly gels together with the fabric and leaves a quality print onto the fabric. The effects of the process are permanent and won’t fade over time. The ink is fully embedded into the fabric and doesn’t simply lay on top as is the case in normal shorts. 

Think of the whole process as akin to tattooing, just substitute the skin for a piece of clothing. The heat turns the print into gas and opens up the pores of the fabric allowing for the ink to go in, once the pressure is increased and the temperature cools down, the gas returns to its solid form, and voila! the design is transferred from paper to fabric. The end result is permanent. The design won’t fade away or crack.

This process is not made for large-scale orders but rather for small batch orders. If you want a particular design, then this is the process for you. This method is popular for making a customized quality shirt but is also widely used for custom designing ceramic, wood, metals, etc. Let us now see the pros and cons of Sublimation

The Pros

The most amazing advantage of the sublimation process is the freedom of choice it can offer. Any design can be printed on any fabric. You are only limited by your imagination. Go as crazy as you want or opt for a more subdued classy look.

The longevity of the design is another big plus point. The design will never fade away or crack as is the case with the shirts you buy at your local apparel store. No matter how many cycles of washing the shirt goes through the design will always remain as it was when you first brought it home

Sublimation printing is a process designed for individual printing. No large-scale orders are possible so you can be sure that the shirt you are wearing and no other copy like this exist in the vast realms of the world. 

The Cons

The cons have mostly to do with the choice of materials. Sublimation printing works best on polyester (100% polyester or polyester blend). Sublimation can be done on other materials such as cotton the effect of the design will be less permanent.

Another disadvantage of the sublimation process is white creasing. The process works by printing the design into a white fabric, should some areas of the garment be untouched by the design; those areas will not only stay white but will also accumulate moisture and lead to creases.

Designs That Work Well with Sublimation Printing

The sublimation process works particularly well for t-shirts design that is on the quirky, dramatic, and ridiculous designs. If that is your jam, then the process is for you. 

Photography prints work great with sublimation printing. The method allows you to fill the whole area of the fabric with a photograph.

Sublimation also goes great with designs that incorporate different logos or different designs. By using the traditional method of fabric printing you will be charged for each logo, and each design, while by using sublimation you will be charged one price for the whole design.

Designs That Don’t Work with Sublimation Printing

Sublimation is not perfect. Designs with block colors or designs that require exact placement might not be the best fit for sublimation printing. For those kinds of designs direct to garment (DTG) printing works best. Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is just like normal printing just for fabrics.

Sublimation is a complicated process to make full use of the process, you will have to understand the nuances and the subtleties of the process effectively. As long as you understand the limitations of the process and choose a design wisely the rest will be easy. Keep a design in mind and consult a professional before deciding on a design. If you want, you can opt for direct-to-garment (DTG) printing.