Sublimation Printing vs. Heat Transfer Paper Printing: Is there a difference?

Both Sublimation vs. Heat Transfer is applicable but debatable for printing garments like t-shirts; however, for the new users, heat transfer is suitable compared to tricky sublimation methods.

Sublimation Printing vs. Heat Transfer Paper Printing

Comparing Sublimation and Heat Transfer

We can use sublimation printing and heat transfer for printing t-shirts and other garments. Especially if we are doing it without any experience, heat transfer is suitable. Inkjet printers and laser technology are used for the task. The printing choice depends on the type of product one needs.

Facts about Sublimation Printing

Sublimation Printing
  • The Sublimation dye turns into gas when it is exposed to heat. The gas is again injected according to design on the fabric and turns into a solid.
  • Always remember to flip the design before printing to avoid reverse Printing.
  • A specific sublimation printer is needed for this mode of Printing.
  • Sublimation prints are likely to stay intact on polyester fabrics.
  • The adhesiveness in sublimation prints is greater than any other.
  • Sublimation ink also uses the element of heat press. The technique is favorable on all printing materials.
  • The four-color combination, i-e, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Overcoating, has reduced the need for black color.
  • The overcoating protects the print against humidity.
  • Sublimation printing can be done on ceramics, textiles, polyester fabric, metals, fibreboard, and other materials.

Facts about Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer Printing
  • Heat transfer is done in two simple steps.
  • The design is printed on transfer paper and then onto adhesive paper.
  • The sheet is pressed against the shirt with a heat press.
  • After the design shifts, the adhesive is removed from the garment.
  • The design is only printed on the garment’s surface, unlike sublimation print, which gets completely absorbed in the fabric.
  • Like sublimation printing, a special kind of heat transfer paper is needed.
  • The process for heat transfer vs. Sublimation is easy.
  • The design gets transferred to the required material by applying heat through iron or heat press.
  • The perfect results come after it cools down.

Peculiarities of Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is easy and simple with sublimation or inkjet sublimation Printers. The Sublimation is converting solid dyes into the gaseous state. This process lets the ink absorb in garments completely, making them durable and stable from light and heat. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages of using Sublimation.

Sublimation Printing Process

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sublimation Printing

  • Produce more vibrant prints
  • Durable due to excellent adhesive quality
  • Waterproof
  • Works perfect for polyester made materials
  • Economical
  • Dry up instantly and gives quick results
  • Customization is easy
  • To start sublimation printing with some expense is a great investment
  • Only works on Sublimation Printers
  • Printing cannot be done on surfaces except polyesters
  • The solid paints may clog the printer soon
  • Garments with sublimation prints are not recyclable
  • Works on light surfaces
  • Sublimation printers and inks are not easy to get due to less production.

Peculiarities of Heat Transfer

Heat transfer printing is done through an Inkjet printer or a laser printer using heat transfer paper. The process is done using the heat press technique or a heated iron.

Heat Transfer Printing

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Heat Transfer Printing

  • It is cheaper than Sublimation.
  • Almost every printer is suitable for heat transfer printing
  • For beginners, heat transfer is the best option to start with
  • Only prints on the garment surface
  • Less durable than sublimation prints
  • It prints on both light and dark surfaces
  • Applicable with a wide range of diversity
  • Large designs may peel off and get cracking
  • The hard Printing feels while wearing
  • The process is time taking

Which one is better? Sublimation or Heat Transfer?

Both Sublimation and Heat Transfer are great ways to customize and embellish garments. They both work with their differences with different results. However, there is a need for both types for users.

Why choose sublimation printing?

Sublimation printing is the best choice for people wanting vibrant and durable prints. Although, the process needs a great investment to start. Sublimation printing can be done on light surfaces with polyester fabrics. It gives quick and accurate results. This mode of Printing needs a specific sublimation printer. Sublimation printing is the best option for Printing polyester-based fabrics.

Why choose Heat Transfer printing?

For beginners, heat transfer printing is the best method. Customization and durable prints are the resultant of Heat Transfer printing. This mode of Printing is cheaper than Sublimation and can be done on all types and colors of fabrics. The steps for heat transfer printing are easy to follow.

Final Words on Sublimation Vs. Heat Transfer

Both the methods are great to work on. The product quality is different because they both work with different technology. However, the durability and appearance of Printing do not differ much. The required product and material to print must be considered before choosing any.

Edward Brown

NETGEAR C6 Gigabit MU-MIMO Wireless Router

Edward Brown is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2012, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT.

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