Printing on metal or any other material is a unique and beautiful way to showcase your photos, artwork, or designs. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about sublimation printing. Here we will share some tips for getting the best results with your prints. So if you’re looking to explore exciting sublimation tips and tricks, read on for the essential information you need.
What Is Sublimation Printing?
To put it simply, the sublimation process allows you to change the state of a substance from solid to gas. When we talk about printing on metal, this simply means that we can use high heat and pressure (a combination known as the sublimation transfer process) to ‘bond’ dye molecules onto the metal surface. This sounds complicated, but it’s actually not that bad to understand once you know the basics.
Sublimation Tips and Tricks
Here are our top tips for getting great sublimation results on your metal prints.
- Make sure you have a heat press that has enough pressure to create an effective bond.
- Use materials with high-quality dye sublimation ink, especially if you’re printing on metal or wood veneer substrates. The dye sublimation ink will be less likely to peel under the heat and pressure of the press.
- Print with a digital label printer (DNP) if possible. You can also use a high-quality large-format inkjet printer for metal, but make sure you remove the protective sheet from within the carrier before pressing. The DNP prints look amazing with a semi-gloss application surface that really ‘pops’ when printing on metal.
- When pressing your print onto the substrate, use a paper carrier, you can use glossy photo paper or matte photo paper.
- If you’re unsure which type of paper carrier to use, try testing each one out on a spare substrate.
- Use graphite to separate your print from the carrier sheet at least 5 minutes after removing it from the press (if you’re using a glossy sheet of paper).
- If your sublimated metal prints are curled, slightly flatten them with a heat-resistant object like a book or another piece of already flattened metal before trying to flatten them out further with a press or by hand.
- If you’re not satisfied with the quality of your prints, try looking at how well you are taping down your substrate, or are there any wrinkles showing?
- Make sure you don’t overheat your metal substrate. This will cause warping and can even leave hot spots on your prints.
- When you’re finished printing, don’t forget to remove the paper carrier sheet.
Sublimation Tips and Tricks: Things You Need to Know
- Finding the Right Equipment
- Getting the Best Accessories
- Stay Stocked on the Necessities
- Get Familiar with Graphic Design Software
- Learn the Industry
- Learn and Test
1-Finding the Right Equipment:
Many types of printers will work for this production process, but the light color laser printer (DNP) is the recommended piece of additional equipment for this job.
Having good software is also essential when you look at all parts you need to make good prints. For example, most DNP’s come with their own proprietary software, which you can use to make your prints.
Finally, if you want to make your own prints, you will need a cutter/plotter capable of cutting materials with heat transfer vinyl, adhesive, thermal transfer material.
2-Getting the Best Accessories:
Once you have your printer and graphic design software, you will need a carrier sheet if you want to use glossy print paper. These can be purchased from the same place as your sublimation printer.
You may also need some clamps or clips as well as a couple of different types of squeegees, depending on what materials you are putting through your machine. A wiper is also recommended if you are printing with adhesive, but this could depend on what type the carrier sheet is made out of.
If you are printing aluminum sheets, it’s also good to have a squeegee that has an adjustable handle that can be worn on your belt or wrist, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to pick up something every time you need a different squeegee.
3-Stay Stocked on the Necessities:
You will definitely want to have a good supply of the carrier sheet material and print material for your printer, as well as an ample supply of electrical heat tape and aluminum-resistant tape.
4-Get Familiar with Software:
The latest version of the software is a good place to start, usually called ‘Dye Sublimation’ or ‘Transfer Express.’ This will allow you to create your designs and settings and then send them off to print. The manuals that come with the software should be able to answer any questions you have.
You may also find other software options that are available on the market. For example, you can search online or contact your supplier for more information.
5-Learn the Industry:
Read books about dye sublimation, get to know the Industry, and talk with others in the Industry. Start by learning how to print on sublimation paper before moving on to other materials. Most of all, don’t be afraid to try new things and learn from your own mistakes.
6-Learn and Test:
Learning all you can about dye sublimation is crucial in making the best prints possible. Read the basics and get an idea of what’s involved before you start experimenting with different types of print media or different carrier sheet materials.
Different materials can require a different set of basic settings, so make sure to try out everything you have available.
Does Dye Sublimation work on all types of fabrics?
No, sublimation works best on natural fibers. That includes cotton, wool, silk, and linen. However, synthetic materials do not work well because they melt during heating.
Does Dye Sublimation work on all types of print media?
The most commonly used print media is paper. But you can also use clear films such as carrier sheets or direct emulsions such as Photo-Tex.
Does Dye Sublimation work in all vibrant colors?
No. You should only use solid colors without gradients or tints. For example, you can use black and white and metallic colors.
Dye sublimation is a complicated and involved process, but the results make it well worth the effort. Most importantly, before getting started, you should select a machine with suitable software and additional accessories and learn about the Industry to ensure your prints will be of high quality. Hope this blog helped you in learning the most effective Sublimation Tips and Tricks.