Sublimation Printer

How do sublimation printers work?

Sublimation printing in white

Many textile printers around the world have ask themselves the question a million times: Can I use sublimation on dark textiles? This article will give you a glimpse into the technology and what is possible with sublimation these days.

Sublimation printing in white on dark materials

Many textile printers around the world have ask themselves the question a million times: Can I use sublimation on dark textiles? This article will give you a glimpse into the technology and what is possible with sublimation these days.

What is sublimation?

Sublimation is a transfer technology in which a dye changes its physical state from solid to gaseous without passing through the liquid stage. This takes place under heat and pressure . A design or photo printed with sublimation ink or Ghost Sublime Toner can be transfer to a polyester fabric.

A design is print with a sublimation printer on a normal sheet of copy paper – or on special sublimation paper. This sheet is then place on the polyester substrate as you would like it to be printed on afterwards. The dye will change its physical state from solid to gaseous under heat and pressure . The gas then combines with the fibers of the polyester fabric.

This way the design becomes a permanent part of the polyester fabric. Of course, since the toner is sublimate into the fabric, the substrate doesn’t change, it feels the same as it did before printing. In addition, this method provides a very durable result that will withstand many washes.

Choice of fabric

Due to the process, sublimation is only suitable for light (white) fabrics . Let’s imagine that the fibers of the polyester garment are color or black: any gaseous dye that combines with the fabric is ultimately contaminat by the color of the fiber itself.

Of course, the darker the color of the fiber, the more this problem becomes worse. While sublimation in black color still works well on a yellow safety vest, sublimation in yellow on a black vest is impossible.


White sublimation print

As white toner has become a very popular technology for designing all kinds of fabrics, customers often ask when white sublimation printing will be possible. When you look at how the sublimation process works, it becomes clear that any white dye in the gaseous state that attempts to dye a dark (i.e. black) polyester fiber is contaminate by the color of the fiber itself.

Hence there is no such thing as a white sublimation printer . Printing in white with sublimation on light-color textiles is obsolete as the color reproduction with cyan, magenta, yellow and black sublimation inks is perfect. In contrast to the toner transfer , no white background is require to improve the color representation or to activate the adhesive on the transfer paper .


Solutions for sublimation printing in white

The need to print in white on dark polyester and other substrates was recognize early by the industry. While  technology is popular with customers for its bright colors and superior image quality , it has lack versatility . Although the industry has develope a wide variety of sublimation-friendly blanks to suit almost every need, these are still white or lighter in color.

We will discuss some solutions for sublimation printing in white on polyester substrates and others. Of course, there are many technologies out there and we cannot go into all of them here. Customers should always review all of the options available and see which one best suits their application.

Sublimation printing in white on dark backgrounds

Many companies in the transfer paper industry offer specially coat one or two-stage transfer papers that enable customers to use their existing sublimation printer with dark polyester and other textiles. These products have a sublimable polyester coating on the print side and an adhesive coating on the other side .


The disadvantage is that two coatings are require and the feel of the textile is very difficult after application. Most of these solutions offer the option of printing on other non-polyester materials such as B. Cotton to be use. Unfortunately, the color representation of these products often lacks the liveliness so belove by the sublimation experts.

Another option is to use toner transfer. In contrast to sublimation , the toner transfer requires a laser printer with white toner , but offers a wide range of possible uses, on dark or light surfaces . During the toner transfer, the desire design is print on a transparent medium call A-foil .

White toner cartridges from Ghost


Customers using Ghost White Toner print the colors of their image / design first. Then the A-foil is put back into the printer and a second print run is carry out with white toner . The Ghost White Toner replaces the black toner cartridge in the customer’s laser printer. It is recommend that you overprint lighter colors and halftones for the best result. Simple designs with solid colors are possible in one go .

  • Sublimate Mugs

After the customer has print his design, he connects the A-foil with the so-called B-paper with the help of a transfer press. The B-paper contains a thermally reactive adhesive. A thermally activated reaction takes place under heat and pressure, in which the adhesive of the B-paper bonds with the printed areas of the A-foil. After this process, the A-foil and the B-paper are immediately peeled off from one another while they are still hot.

The A-foil can now be place on the desired fabric. This is very easy because the medium is transparent. After the A-foil has been pressed onto the textile on the heat press, the print is now part of the garment. The remaining A-Foil can be removed while only the print has been transfer.

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