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Breaking Down the Dye Sublimation Printing Process

Feb 26th, 2014

Dye sublimation printing is a printing method that produces extremely high quality images that can be created on synthetic textiles such as polyester and nylon, opening up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to putting images on objects such as banners, flags and even clothing. What’s more, the dye sublimation printing process can even place images on blended fibres, which involve different fibre types combined together.

Dye Sublimation Printing Process

It accomplishes this by using a technical printing technique that is quite different from traditional inkjet or laser printing. Instead, dye sublimation printing doesn’t make images by printing using individual dots – dots that when viewed up close can be easily distinguished by the spaces in between them.

A dye sublimation printer contains a roll of transparent film. To the human eye, this roll looks like sheets of multiple colours (red, blue, grey and blue) of cellophane that are all stuck together. Hidden within these film sheets are solid dyes. These dyes match the CMYK colours that make up the basic colour building blocks in printing (cyan, magenta, yellow and black or “key”).

The way these dyes make it onto the target surface also requires a bit of description, as it’s quite different from the printing methods many are used to. As the print head makes its way across the film, it heats up. This heat makes the dyes contained in the film vapourize. The vapours then permeate the target surface (such as glossy paper or polyester). When they do this, they once again take on a solid form. The result, then, is a beautiful high-quality printed image that is simply unmatched when compared to inkjet or laser printing methods.

And when compared to those other printing techniques, dye sublimation has many benefits. Chief among these, as mentioned, is the superior image quality. Dye sublimated images are also more thoroughly printed into the target material, as opposed to being printed on top. This means they’re longer lasting and more resistance to being torn or otherwise worn out. Plus, the ability to place images on synthetic materials means there are a whole host of new ways to adorn objects with vibrant, colourful images. If you’re curious about the range of possibilities, just pick up the phone and give us a call for more details.


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