Posted in:

How Dye Sublimation Printer Work – Things You Need to Know in Detailed

© by iStock

Let’s talk about the device of a sublimation printer, its advantages over inkjet printers, and areas of use. You will also learn what consumables are needed for such a device, what image format you can get, and how to choose the best dye-sublimation printer when purchasing. Best sublimation printer: how it works The device and principle of operation of a sublimation printer can be compared with similar parameters of a reel-to-reel tape recorder. 

The printer has two rollers – the supply and the take-up. From one of them to another, a special tape with several segments is rewound, each of which is coated with a solid dye of a different color. There is a heating element on the print head. Under its influence, the dye evaporates and from a solid-state passes into a gaseous state. This process is called sublimation. The result is a small cloud of concentrated ink that settles on the material and forms an image. With the help of filters, the dye vapor is dosed, and high accuracy of image application is achieved. You can learn more by clicking on Best Sublimation Printer

The surface of the material being printed on begins to melt under the influence of the high temperature, and the ink particles are soldered to their upper layers. A picture is formed that is resistant not only to moisture and light but also to mechanical damage (to abrasion). There are two methods of sublimation printing: Straight. The dyes are mixed inside a sublimation printer for printing on fabric or paper and immediately applied to the material. This method is also used to print images on plastic cards. Thermal transfer. It includes two stages: first, a mirror image of the image is printed on a siliconized medium, and then the drawing is transferred to the desired product using a heat press.

Also Check: Best Printer for Cricut

The colorants are mixed using a diaphragm, and thus different shades are achieved. Printing takes place in stages – each tone of the dye is applied separately. The heating temperature can be adjusted. The higher it is, the brighter and more colorful the finished image. To obtain pictures in muted calm tones, the temperature is lowered. Thanks to this regulation, it is possible to obtain a variety of shades with a large gradation in their saturation. Sublimation printer: fabrics, plastics, and other printing materials With sublimation printing, you can apply designs to almost any surface and object. 

The choice of materials is very wide: Paper. Sublimation printers are popular for printing photos, brochures, posters, souvenirs. Ceramics and glass. Drawings on cups, plates, and other utensils. Metal. Printing on door plates, ashtrays, lighters, flasks, etc. Stone. Souvenirs, photo stones, stands, plaques, monuments. Textile. Prints for hoodies, T-shirts, curtains, umbrellas, shoes, etc. Plastic. Trays, cards, watch faces, business cards, wardrobe numbers, and other plastic items. 

But there are also limitations. Sublimation ink is poorly absorbed into the leather, wood, and natural fabrics, but at the same time, it is great for synthetics. If you need to apply an image to a stone or glass surface, then first it is treated with a special polymer. Before placing a natural fabric in a sublimation printer, a special primer is applied to it so that the ink adheres well.

Color sublimation printer: consumables You will need special sublimation paper and ink. And if you need to print on any object, and not just on paper or fabric, then a heat press is also needed as additional equipment. Then the picture is first printed on sublimation paper and then transferred to another medium in a heat press under the influence of high temperature and pressure. Types of heat presses: Flat. For printing on ceramic tiles, glass plates, metal sheets, textiles, T-shirts, and other clothing. Baseball. Designed for drawing images on hats. For dishes – plates and mugs. Sublimation paper differs from a conventional paper in that it has a special ultra-thin coating for fixing the ink during printing and its maximum return during the print transfer process. 

Special solid ink is used, which turns into a gaseous state under the influence of high temperature. They need to be selected depending on the printer model, the type of print head, and the material on which you will print. There is ink designed for fabrics. There are those that are suitable for both fabrics and hard materials.

Dye-sublimation papers are available in rolls and sheets with the size and exact dimensions indicated on the package. Inkjet and sublimation printer: Comparison Inkjet and dye-sublimation printers not only have different designs, but also many other differences regarding print quality, print speed, and other parameters. In some of them, printers are superior to inkjet printers, but in some ways, they are inferior to them. Advantages of a dye sublimation printer compared to an inkjet printer: The quality and durability of the resulting images. Pictures taken with a dye sublimation printer are clear and colorful, resistant to moisture and sunlight, and will not fade. 

They have high-quality color reproduction. Raster points are not visible. Drawings printed on an inkjet printer are less durable, fade faster and differ in the bitmap. The image quality and color rendition are much worse, there are not enough smooth transitions in colors and tones. The convenience of use. Dye-sublimation printers are more convenient to use since most models have displays that show operational information about the printing process. Range of applications. Sublimation equipment has almost no limitations – it is possible to transfer images to any surface and product. Inkjet printers can only print on flat media (paper, discs, plastic cards). Disadvantages of a sublimation printer compared to an inkjet printer: The print speed is slower. 

The price of consumables is higher. When dye sublimation ink evaporates, an unpleasant odor appears, so the room in which such a printer works needs to be regularly ventilated. Both inkjet and sublimation printers can have technical problems. In the former, the print head gets clogged quite often and needs cleaning or replacement. And the latter is sensitive to dust. If it gets inside, vertical scratches may appear on the images. The best dye-sublimation printer – how to choose The best color dye-sublimation printers are produced by such well-known manufacturers as Mimaki, Datacard, Epson, Canon, HP, Mitsubishi. What to look for when choosing: The presence of a continuous ink supply system (CISS). If the printer has CISS, ink is contained in cans, if not, then in cartridges. The cans hold significantly more ink, which means fewer refills. Number of colors. 

Related to Printer: 10 Best Sticker Printer

The most common are three-lane and four-lane dye-sublimation printers. But there are also six-color devices. They produce more natural colors but are more likely to clog. Minimum drop volume. Measured in picoliters (pl). The smaller it is, the better the picture is, and the smallest details are drawn more clearly. In this sense, it is better to choose a dye sublimation printer with a minimum drop volume of 1.5 pl than with 4 pl. But in models with a droplet volume of 1.5 pl, the print head is often clogged and needs to be cleaned. If you need to print on large items, buy a large format printer. For small items, an A3 or A4 sublimation printer is suitable. Sublimation inks are not universal and are most often designed for specific brands of equipment. 

When choosing them, make sure that they are compatible with your device and suitable for the surface to which you are going to transfer the image. So, with the help of sublimation printers, you can print images on any object. The result is bright pictures that do not fade or erase for a long time. The print quality is better than inkjet printers. Required for work: special sublimation paper and ink. They are more expensive than similar inkjet consumables. The appropriate equipment should be chosen depending on what items will be printed on. What matters is the size of the products, their material, and the required print quality. Source: