Dye Sublimation


Full color all over sublimated t-shirts are the rage right now. A dye-sublimation printer is a computer printer which uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as a plastic, card, paper, or fabric. Some dye-sublimation printers use CMYO (Cyan Magenta Yellow Overcoating) colors, which differs from the more recognized CMYK colors in that the black is eliminated in favour of a clear overcoating. This overcoating (which has numerous names depending on the manufacturer) is also stored on the ribbon and is effectively a thin layer which protects the print from discoloration from UV light and the air, while also rendering the print water-resistan.

Dye-sublimation printing is a digital printing technology using full color artwork that works with polyester and polymer-coated substrates. Also referred to as digital sublimation, the process is commonly used for decorating apparel, signs and banners, as well as novelty items such as cell phone covers, plaques, coffee mugs, and other items with sublimation-friendly surfaces. The process uses the science of sublimation, in which heat and pressure are applied to a solid, turning it into a gas through an endothermic reaction without passing through the liquid phase.

In order to transfer the image from the paper to the substrate, it requires a heat press process that is a combination of time, temperature and pressure. The heat press applies this special combination, which can change depending on the substrate, to “transfer” the sublimation dyes at the molecular level into the substrate. The most common dyes used for sublimation activate at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a range of 380 to 420 degrees Fahrenheit is normally recommended for optimal color.

The end result of the sublimation process is a nearly permanent, high resolution, full color print. Because the dyes are infused into the substrate at the molecular level, rather than applied at a topical level (such as with screen printing and direct to garment printing), the prints will not crack, fade or peel from the substrate under normal conditions. Expect some voids in the print around the seams and shoulder areas. Voids in the print are most common in the arm pit area of the shirts. These voids in the print are unavavoidable and are not considered mistakes.  Refunds or reprints will not be granted because of voided print areas.

Our t-shirts are  100% polyester full front color with white back 90% of the time. We do offer some shirts that are both colored front and back. Below is an example of a dye sublimated t-shirt.