Unleash Your Inner Artist with Dye Sublimation Printer

In case you are wondering “What is dye sublimation?” you are probably interested in creating unique promotional items, such as t-shirts, mugs, and more. Printing dye-sublimation results in vivid, sharp, and vibrant images – as well as stunning products. 

You will also find that it is quite affordable if you do not plan to print a large number of products at one time. When producing a small number of items, this form of printing is beneficial because it keeps costs low. Aside from its long-lasting nature, dye sublimation printer also produces prints that fade very slowly.

In recent years, dye sublimation printers have become increasingly popular in the printing industry because of their ability to produce high-quality prints with vibrant colors and a long lifespan. Prints produced by these printers are resistant to fading and smudging thanks to a special dye transfer process. This article will provide an overview of dye sublimation printers, including how they work and their benefits.

What is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Dye sublimation is the process of printing with solid inks on a specially designed ribbon. By heating the sublimated ink, the printer causes it to sublimate, which means it skips the liquid phase and transitions directly into the gaseous phase. The freeze-drying process is another example of the use of sublimation in the industry.

The chemistry behind dye sublimation is what makes it an ideal printing method for polyester and polyester resin-coated products. A special transfer paper is used to print dye-sub inks on a wide-format inkjet printer. Following this, the ink is transferred from the paper to a fabric by means of a heat press. During the sublimation process, the ink changes from a solid to a gas (hence the term “sublimation”) and is absorbed by the polyester fibers.

There are three primary colors used to color the page or other material. A full-color image is produced once the ink has been absorbed by the media and has transitioned from a gas back to a solid form. To prevent smudging, the printer applies a clear protective coating to the paper or substrate at the end of the printing process.

When polyester polymers are heated, they bond together, permanently embedding the graphics into the natural fibers of your materials. The ink becomes fully infused into the fabric rather than just being printed on the surface, resulting in long-lasting, high-quality products.

Due to the multiple steps involved in dye sublimation, it is more time-consuming than inkjet printing on other materials such as paper or vinyl. However, there is no need to worry. Having the right knowledge can make dye sublimation an enjoyable and lucrative business opportunity.

Dye Sublimation Printer

What is a Dye Sublimation Printer?

This type of digital printer uses a heat transfer process to create high-quality prints on a variety of surfaces, including fabric, metal, ceramic, and plastic. Using a special dye transfer process, the dye is first printed on transfer paper and then transferred to the surface using heat and pressure. Due to the heat, the dye sublimates, or turns into a gas, and bonds with the sublimation-friendly surfaces, producing a vibrant and long-lasting print.

It is helpful to compare dye sublimation printers with traditional inkjet printers in order to understand how they work. There are three ways in which dye sublimation machines differ from standard inkjet printers:

  1. Operation. The process of generating gas through ribbon heating in a dye sublimation printer has been described above. An inkjet printer, on the other hand, controls where the ink droplets are sprayed from the cartridge’s nozzles onto the media. During the movement of the cartridge, microscopic droplets are placed in the cartridge, resulting in a spectrum of colors. 
  2. Efficiency. There is no comparison between the efficiency of dye sublimation printers and that of inkjet printers. There is a problem when the trio of primary color panels does not completely transfer onto the page, resulting in the ink that remains on the panels being wasted. Inkjet printers, on the other hand, use only the amount of ink required for a particular job.
  3. Image Quality. Dye sublimation excels in this area. Dye sublimation is essentially similar to the film, whereas inkjet printing is similar to a video. It creates an image similar to traditional photography, where the colors are continuously blended. Inkjet printers are less seamless: a magnified image will reveal the primary color dots. As if it were an extremely detailed computer image.

What to Look for When Choosing a Dye Sublimation Printer

There are several factors to consider when selecting a dye sublimation printer, including print size, resolution, and print speed. When choosing a dye sublimation printer, you should take into account the following factors:

  • Print Size: Take into account the maximum size of the print
  • Resolution: Determine the level of detail and sharpness in the print by considering the printer’s resolution.
  • Speed: Take into account the printer’s speed, which determines how quickly it can print.
  • Cost: It is important to take into account the cost of the printer, including the initial investment as well as maintenance and supply costs over the years.
  • Compatibility: Make sure the printer is compatible with your existing software and hardware.

The Best Sublimation Printers Reviewed in Detail

In addition to being similar to other wide-format printers, dye sublimation printers are specifically designed for dye sublimation applications. These printers use disperse dyes that are specifically designed for printing on transfer paper.

As dye sublimation continues to grow, the best brands in the industry offer a wide variety of dye sublimation printers.

1. Mimaki TS55-1800 Transfer Printer

A dye-sublimation transfer paper model, the Mimaki TS55-1800 offers new levels of quality and productivity for digital textile printing. In order to keep running costs low, the printer has a mini jumbo roll and a 10 kg ink supply unit that allows for unattended continuous printing.

It is possible to achieve a maximum output of 1,506 square feet per hour in four-color mode with this Mimaki TS55-1800. During dye sublimation printing, the new SB610 inks provide enhanced resolvability to improve print production yields. 

Mimaki TS55-1800 Transfer Printer

Benefits & Features

  • Contains technologies for printing onto thin transfer media without interference from cockling
  • The print width is 76.3 inches (1,940 mm)
  • Improved stability of Sb610 dye-sublimation inks 
  • 2L Ink w/optional units:10 kg Ink Supply and Extended Heater
  • For smooth images, run MAPS at high speed
  • The Nozzle Check Unit and the Nozzle Recovery System
  • As an option, Advanced TxLink4 Lite RIP Software is available

2. Mimaki CJV300-160 Plus Solvent Printer Cutter

The Mimaki CJV300 Series of high-speed roll-to-roll printer cutters deliver an impressive range of applications. You can produce anything from fine art reproductions to outdoor signage with eco-solvent inks in a variety of colors, including Silver.

Additionally, you are able to deliver complete campaigns that include labels, decals, and even T-shirt transfers with precision cutting capability on board. As a result of Mimaki CJV300 Series printers’ superb quality, color fidelity, throughput, contour cutting, and printing flexibility, you will capture more opportunities and meet the needs of your clients.

Mimaki CJV300-160

Benefits & Features

  • Bulk ink system that is economical
  • As part of the Mimaki Bulk Ink System 3, the CJV300 Series printers are equipped with economical, high-capacity 2L cartridges.
  • By fitting on top of the cartridge ink station, the new design saves space. In the case of long-running projects, it is the ideal solution.
  • A pre-cut before printing capability prevents common problems such as film separation and other issues relating to post-cutting on thin materials.
  • For textile and apparel transfer sublimation applications, the CJV300 Series can be configured for either eco-solvent printing or dye-sublimation printing.
  • The expanded eco-solvent ink set includes silver ink
  • SS21 eco-solvent ink set includes ten colors, including Silver, for creating metallic color effects for labels, decals, and packaging prototypes.
  • As a result of Mimaki’s design of an optimal waveform, each color of ink can be jetted at the appropriate jetting angle without losing the precision of the circularity of the droplets.
  • In addition to variable drop printing, MAPS4 (Mimaki Advanced Pass System 4) technology provides a smoother image by greatly reducing the appearance of banding in the printed material throughout the printing process.
  • The intelligent heater ensures uniform media drying across the width of the printer, which ensures even image quality.
  • Before printing, the media is heated to the optimum temperature using a pre-heater.
  • The print heater helps dry the ink after it lands on the media so that it does not bleed, which improves color reproduction.
  • The post-heater improves ink drying and results in stable ink take-up.
  • The air blower at the top supports ink drying.

3. Epson SureColor F6370 Dye-Sub Printer

Epson SureColor F6370 44″ roll-to-roll dye-sublimation transfer printer offers a fully supported turnkey solution for any size business looking to bring dye-sublimation in-house. The high-performance SureColor F6370 printer will streamline your workflow and maximize your productivity.

A dye-sublimation printer offers fast printing speeds of up to 680 square feet per hour, which is ideal for producing high-quality images for promotional products, textiles, cut-and-sew fabrics, and more. Intuitive and user-friendly, the Epson SureColor F6370 is equipped with Epson Edge workflow software, which includes the Adobe PostScript® 3TM engine.

Additionally, the SureColor F6370 features an easily accessible maintenance bay, a built-in cutter for roll-to-sheet convenience, and an option to print unattended using a take-up reel system. 

Among other features, the F6370 is a fully supported turnkey solution for any size shop looking to bring dye sublimation into the home. It provides faster print speeds, high-quality images, seamless workflow, roll-to-cut sheet support, and more.

Epson SureColor F6370 Dye-Sub Printer

Benefits & Features

Epson UltraChrome DS Ink Technology

  • Refillable ink tanks with a capacity of 1.5 liters per color
  • Exclusively compatible with SureColor F-Series printers
  • Featuring a High-Density Black ink formulation in four colors
  • Colors that are vibrant, blacks that are intense, contours that are sharp, and gradations that are smooth
  • Drying times are extremely fast, and the use of ink refill packs reduces the total cost of ownership

 High-Performance PrecisionCore TFP Print Head

  • Exceptional image quality and efficient, precise, and repeatable performance
  • The print head is one inch wide and has 720 nozzles per color
  • Providing highly accurate dot shape and placement with low-vibration meniscus control
  • Print head maintenance is reduced by ink-repelling coating technology
  • Specifically designed for UltraChrome DS dye-sublimation inks, extending the life of the print head

4. HP Stitch S500

With HP’s high-tech dye-sub printer, you can print directly on fabric and on transfer paper using the same water-based dye-sub ink. Designed for businesses with high print volumes, the Stitch S500 can print up to 110 m2 per hour and can be automated to work throughout the night.

This printer has plenty of space for ink and accepts large rolls of paper or fabric, while thermal printheads can easily be replaced with one hand and recycled. There is a touchscreen panel for ease of use and small fans blow on the emerging print job to dry the ink before it is rolled. A dye-sublimation printer with all the latest features is what you need if you are looking for a hardworking machine.

HP Stitch S500

Benefits & Features

  • Use transfer paper or fabric to print
  • Print jobs unattended
  • Ensure maximum uptime with easy maintenance
  • This product is ideal for fleet environments
  • Even when printing in one pass, the color will be richly saturated
  • Increase your efficiency and reduce costs

5. Epson SureColor F7200 Dye Sublimation Printer

The Epson F7200 dye sub printer is a larger (wider) version of the Epson SureColor F6200 dye sub printer, which is the world’s best-selling wide format dye sub printer. There is no difference in print quality or speed between the F7200 and the F7100, and the F7200 can print chroma luxe as well as high-quality fabric prints.

A calendar heat press paired with the F7200 is a great solution for low to medium-volume production of soft signage, fashion, and sports apparel. For a typical production environment, this printer requires about 10 minutes of maintenance per week, which involves manually wiping the print head edges as well as capping the station.

Epson SureColor F7200

Benefits & Features

  • For true roll-to-roll productivity, a new after-heater platen reduces ink drying times
  • Built-in take-up reel ensures accurate roll-to-roll media handling
  • The Epson PrecisionCore TFP print head is designed exclusively for use with Epson UltraChrome DS inks.
  • A high-resolution photograph with a resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels
  • A production speed of up to 325 feet per hour is available on an everyday basis
  • Designed to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • The package includes textile imaging workflow software from Wasatch
  • Designed specifically for applications involving rotary heat transfer presses

How Does a Dye Sublimation Printer Work?

Using heat, dye is transferred onto a surface by dye sublimation printers. In general, there are four steps involved in the process:

  1. Printing the Image: This process begins with the printing of the desired image using dye sublimation ink on a transfer paper.
  2. Heating the Transfer Paper: In the next step, the transfer paper is placed over the surface to be printed and heated using a heat press: As a result of the heat, the ink becomes a gas and binds to the surface.
  3. Applying Pressure: The dye is fully sublimated onto the surface of the transfer paper after it has been heated by applying pressure, resulting in a permanent and durable image.
  4. Cooling: In order for the dye to fully adhere and for the print to be permanent, it is necessary to cool the printed surface.

The Benefits of Dye Sublimation Printers

Compared to other printing technologies, dye sublimation printers offer a number of advantages. The following are some of the key benefits of using a dye sublimation printer:

  • High-Quality Prints: With dye sublimation printers, you can produce prints that are vibrant with sharp details and exhibit excellent color accuracy.
  • Long-Lasting Prints: Due to their resistance to fading, smudging, and water damage, dye sublimation prints are ideal for applications requiring the use of long-lasting prints.
  • Versatile: Due to their ability to print on a variety of surfaces, such as fabric, metal, ceramic, and plastic, dye sublimation printers are an ideal choice for apparel, home decor, and promotional products.
  • Cost-Effective: When it comes to producing small to medium-sized prints, dye sublimation printing is an extremely cost-effective method.
dye sublimation printing process

Applications of Dye Sublimation Printers

There is a wide range of industries and applications that are served by dye sublimation printers. Following are some examples of dye sublimation printing’s key applications:

  • Apparel: Custom designs can be printed on apparel such as t-shirts, hats, and jackets using dye sublimation printing.
  • Home Decor: The use of dye sublimation printing allows custom designs to be printed on items such as pillows, blankets, and shower curtains.
  • Promotional Products: Custom designs can be printed on promotional products including coffee mugs, keychains, and phone cases using dye sub-printing.
  • Signage and Banners: For advertising and marketing purposes, dye sublimation printing is used to create high-quality graphics and images.

You Will Need to Use a Specific Type of Ink

It is necessary for the ink to convert from a solid state to a gas in order to transfer graphics from paper to fabric. Due to the specific chemical process required for dye sublimation, you will need to use a special ink known as disperse dyes (also commonly known as dye-sublimation inks).

During high temperatures, these dyes can change from a liquid form a solid state into a gaseous state and are easily incorporated into polyester fabrics.

There is an incredible range of colors available with dispersed dyes. Some manufacturers, such as Mimaki, have introduced fluorescent inks that can further expand the color gamut.

Due to the permanent bonding of dispersed dyes to your finished products, the result is graphics that are fully washable and will last for many years to come.

Additional Equipment will be Required

Despite the fact that dye sublimation requires multiple steps, they are simple and straightforward if you have the following items on hand:

Heat Press
There is no doubt that your heat press is as important as your dye sublimation printer. Similar to your printer, heat presses are available in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices. As an example of what is available, here are some of the most common types:

  • Flatbed Press: For transfers onto solid objects, a flatbed press is recommended. In addition, they are an excellent choice for printing t-shirts with designs that must cover the entire garment.
  • Calender Press: This type of press uses oil or electrical heating drums to transfer heat and is used for the production of apparel, décor, and soft signage. When it comes to high-volume printing, calendar presses are the best choice.

Cutting & Sewing
Depending on the specific application, you may consider options such as cutting and sewing. The range of these other items is similar to that of the printer. They range from simple and relatively inexpensive items to large factory machinery. For more information about the equipment that will be most suitable for your needs, it is best to consult with an expert.

Dye Sublimation Printer Maintenance and Care

In order to ensure that your dye sublimation printer operates efficiently and produces high-quality prints, you should maintain and care for it properly. The following are some tips for maintaining and caring for your dye sublimation printer:

  • Regular Cleaning: It is important to clean the printer regularly to ensure that there is no dust or debris that may affect print quality.
  • Replace Parts: Ensure the printer is functioning efficiently by replacing any worn or damaged parts.
  • Use Quality Supplies: Make sure you use high-quality ink, transfer paper, and other supplies in order to achieve the best possible print quality.
  • Store Properly: It is recommended that you store your printer away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures in a cool, dry location.

Final Thoughts

Printers using dye sublimation technology produce high-quality prints with vibrant colors that last for many years. Dye sublimation printing can be applied to a variety of products and applications, including apparel, home and decorating apparel, signage, and banners. It is important to consider a number of factors when selecting a dye sublimation printer, including the print size, the resolution, the speed, the cost, and the compatibility. If you properly maintain and care for your dye sublimation printer, you will be able to continue to produce high-quality prints for many years to come.

Enis Sh
Enis Sh

As an innovative IT Tech entrepreneur I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Stay ahead of the curve with up-to-the-minute tech news and reviews, while diving into the realm of computer hardware geekery.

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