T-shirt printing is not limited to the common silkscreen printing or heat press printing methods. Another method is sublimation t-shirt printing. Sublimation printing allows the entire garment, such as t-shirts, to be printed. Your artwork or colours can printed from seam to seam. The all-over print allows for big, bold and eye catching designs. T-shirt printing done by the sublimation method allows full colours, gradients and maximum amount of details to be printed!
Sublimation printing allows t-shirts to be fully dyed. This means that there is no external layer of vinyl or ink on the t-shirt. The dye is absorbed into the fabric, which makes the colours last for a long time and will never be washed off or peeled off! One limitation for sublimation t-shirt printing, is that it can only be done for 100% polyester white fabrics.
Although sublimation printing can only be done on polyester fabrics, there are some variations of 100% polyester fabrics. The different weave type of polyester fibres create varying types of polyester fabric textures. For example, there is the smooth interlock, the eyelet and the mesh fabric.
Sublimation Print Process
The sublimation t-shirt printing process starts with printing the graphic or artwork on a type of high release transfer paper using inkjet dyes before the transfer paper is heat pressed on the desired fabric. The transfer paper for sublimation printing is uncoated and have a special layer on the surface to prevent inks from soaking through the paper. During the heat press process, the special made sublimation ink in the transfer paper, transforms into a gas to penetrate into the fabric and bonds with the fibres of the t-shirt. This results in a permanent dye of the fabric. The sublimation t-shirt printing method is highly favoured for its long-lasting brilliant colours and soft feel. For all-over print designs, the fabric pattern is cut out before the transfer paper with the design is heat pressed unto it. Once the heat presses are done for the front, back and sleeves, the pieces are then sewn together.
T-shirt printing through the sublimation printing process is ideal for artwork or designs with many colours and even photographs. The cost of this method of t-shirt printing is not dependent on how many colours are used. Sublimation t-shirting printing is also great for low quantity orders.
Sublimation printing is not limited to t-shirts only! It can be used for cycling jerseys, dresses, scarves, tote bags and caps! Many bowling, cycling and racing clubs uniforms are sublimated apparel. Sublimation printing for team apparel is very suitable as they are usually worn very often. Sublimated apparel’s prints is durable and will not be easily affected by number of washes. Sublimation tops’ vibrant colours are ideal for setting up a great visual presence in any social setting! These sublimation tops with the all-over prints, look highly customised and exclusive.
Be sure to wash the sublimated tees inside out, on a cold wash! Do not tumble dry or iron on the printed tees.
Points to note
Due to the nature of how the sublimation process is, a limitation of sublimation t-shirt printing is the presence of white streaks near sewing seams, collars, shoulders and under the arm sleeves. These areas have creases and designers can work around it by designing the tee with patterns or lighter colours so that the white streaks are less obvious. An additional note is that the full black colour on the computer screens will not be able to be translated fully to the actual print colour. 100% rich black colour is not possible with sublimated tees as the fabric fibres can only absorb a certain amount of ink. Most times, black might look grey! Understanding the process of t-shirt printing will help in the creation of a great design!