Dye Sublimation Printing for T-Shirts

Companies or individuals looking to capture people’s attention may want to do so with clothing that makes a colorful impression. T-shirts that are created with bright, vibrant full-printed photos can be eye-catching and attention grabbing.

Full-printed garments, especially t-shirts, are made possible with a printing process known as dye sublimation printing. Dye sublimation printing, or dye sublimation for short, allows full photographic images to be printed or transferred to a t-shirt or other garment. Some in the shirt printing industry call this process ‘all around printing.’

The following is a look at the process that is used during dye sublimation printing and why it is becoming a popular choice for t-shirts.

What is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Dye sublimation printing is a complex printing process that essentially takes a photographic image and transfers it to the entire shirt. The image often takes up the whole shirt, as opposed to a smaller logo or design located above the shirt pocket.

The process for dye sublimation printing is fairly time consuming. The desired photo, image, or artwork must first be taken and printed onto specialty paper. This is done using a special printer that will print the image onto large sheets of paper.

Once the images or artwork have been transferred to the specialty paper, they will then be transferred to the t-shirts. Transferring the images and artwork to the t-shirt requires the use of a special pressure machine called a heat transfer press. These presses reach the extremely high temperatures that are required to help transfer the images onto the t-shirts. This is typically 375-380 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is a heat press:heat press

How is an Image Transferred from Paper to the T-Shirt?

Images are transferred with a heat press as seen above. The extremely high temperatures these machines reach that will convert the dye on the paper into a gas. Once the dye is converted to a gas, it can be transferred to the t-shirt. The shirt will be placed on the botton with the sublimation printed transfer paper on top. The gas will instantly ‘bond’ with the fibers of the fabric resulting in the transferred image. At this point the design will very likely last as long as the shirt itself.

Why is Dye Sublimation Printing Becoming So Popular?

Dye sublimation printing has been around for a number of years, but it wasn’t until recently that it started to become popular. There are a number of reasons why it has increased in popularity.

Some of the reasons for dye sublimation printing’s popularity include:

  • No two images are alike, each t-shirt is considered unique as the process is never the same
  • Garments are soft, as the dye is absorbed by the fabric and does not sit on top of it
  • Bright, vibrant colors and images can be transferred to t-shirts
  • Details will not be lost during transfer of the images to the shirts

Understanding what dye sublimation printing is and why it is popular can help you determine if it is the right choice for your t-shirt printing needs. Check out our Sublimate Tees for him and her made especially this type of printing.

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