There is a lot of confusion about sublimation plates. Some people seem to think that they are some sort of special paper or coating that you have to apply to your fabric before printing. Others seem to think that you can just use any old piece of metal, and it will work just fine. So, what’s the truth? What is a sublimation plate, and how do you make one?
In this article, we will study essential details about sublimation on plates including an easy guide to sublimate your plates.
Types of Sublimation Plates
Sublimation printing plates come in three different forms:
- Sublimation paper
Materials Needed for Sublimation on Plates
- Heat Press Machine
- Sublimation Printer
- Sublimation Transfer paper and Ink
- Plates Blanks
Heat Press Machine
The Heat Press is where the magic happens. Sublimation printers and presses can come in many different shapes and sizes and can be as cheaper price as $400 dollars to as much as $10,000 depending on the size and quality of the sublimation machine. Subli-Plates are coated onto these heat ceramic plates through a manual or automatic heat press process.
There are many different types of Sublimation Printers on the market, including desktop models to large industrial presses that can print hundreds of shirts every hour. To ensure that the prints on the plates are of great quality, you’ll need to invest in a high-resolution sublimation printer. Look for printers with a high-efficiency five-star rating, as this can help you save money on prints while still producing excellent results.
Sublimation Papers and Ink
Sublimation papers are specially coated glossy paper that will only take the Ink from a sublimation printer when using a heat platen press machine. To use these papers, you will need to use a special type of special dye sublimation Ink made specifically for Sublimation Printing.
Plate blanks are pieces of metal that have been pre-coated with a nice Sublimation Plate. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but the most common types of plates blanks are 8″ x 10″, 11″ x 13″, and 12″ x 15″. Plate blanks can be made from aluminum, stainless steel, or other types of metals.
Sublimation on Plates: Step-by-Step Procedure
Preheat the machine to the desired temperature. Set the dye sublimation paper onto the heated machine and let it sit for a minute or so, allowing the Ink to be absorbed into the paper.
Put a plate blank on top of the paper and press down with medium pressure. Run through all of your plates using this same perfect sublimation process.
Remove the plate from the machine and air dry for a few minutes. Then, spray a light lacquer consistent sublimation coating onto the dried sheet while it is still on top of the plate blank. Let this sit until completely dry, roughly 10-15 minutes in total. Then, spray a second coat to be safe and then turn your blanks over and spray once more coat onto the backside.
Remove the sheet, and place it in an oven or dye-sublimation transfer heat press machine to ensure the custom design is well sealed. If everything goes according to plan, you should see your design method appear when you pull these blanks out of the oven/heat press.
Repeat this normal sublimation printing process for each perfect print on the plate you need. You can also learn how to sublimate on steel tumblers.
What is the difference between the Flex-Plus and Flex-Max plates?
The Mini-Max plate has an adhesive back to directly adhere to polyester fabric, paper, etc, whereas the Flex-Plus plate has only a printable polyester coating.
Where are Sublimation Plates made?
Ceramic Sublimation Plates are manufactured in the USA (Virginia).
What material can I use to make a plate?
The preferred plate material currently being used by most transfer artists is copper or aluminum sheet metal with a printable coating.
What is the best printer for Sublimation Printing?
The Epson 9900/9910 is considered the top-of-the-line printer by most transfer artists, although many use 4880’s, 3880’s, 4890’s, and 4900’s. The quality of the printout is determined by the inkjet printer, high-quality inkjet coated paper, and the settings used to make the print.
Do I need to use a Heat Press to transfer an image onto fabric?
It certainly helps but is not a necessity. Each person will have to decide if they want to buy a heat element press or use their household iron. The SubliMax Plates for sublimation can also be used with an iron and the Transfer-Magic Paper and FlexiFlat panels.
The blog discussed all about sublimation plates. I hope the sublimation process is easy to implement after going through this guide and be sure to check back soon for more helpful guides on sublimation printing.