What Materials Can Be Sublimation Printed?
Suitable materials are man-made polymers such as Polyester and PVC. These can be ‘hard’ such as a polyester coated sheet of aluminium or ceramic tiles or ‘soft’ such as polycotton textiles. During the heat press stage the pores of these polymers open to allow sublimation ink (now in a gaseous state) to enter. As the temperature drops the pores close leaving the now solid ink image as part of the polymer.In education, printable materials fall into two categories: Sublimation Sheet Materials
These are varied but include polymer coated aluminium; PVC sheets; coated plywood, plastic sheets, polymer coated magnetic materials, fibreglass and polycarbonates. Sublimation Materials Already On-Site At SchoolFoamex board, PVC and other plastics for vacuum forming, textiles containing more than 50% polyester.122AN INTRODUCTION TO SUBLIMATION
What is Sublimation Printing?
‘Sublimation’ is defined as turning a solid into a gas and back into a solid without any liquid stage. This allows the application of sublimation inks into a materials surface using a Heat Press to provide the required combination of heat, time and pressure. This combination causes the inks to be converted from a solid to a gaseous state enabling them to penetrate the surface so that a permanent, full colour image is formed. The colour penetrates the material giving a result which is long lasting, colourful and resistant to scratching. Sublimation should not be confused with other dry laser processes that transfer the images to the surface of materials making them easy to scratch off. True Sublimation uses wet ink technology.
What Are Sublimation Inks?
Sublimation Inks are in essence a formulation of special coloured dyes suspended in liquids that can be passed through a digital ink jet printer.
What Materials Cannot Be Sublimation Printed?
As Sublimation is always performed on a polyester, polymer or polymer coated item, materials such 100% cotton are not suitable as the natural fibres have no pores to open to accept the image. Cotton can be sublimated but the image will fade with a few washes making a 50% polyester 50% cotton weave a required minimum.Combining TechnologiesSublimation printing can be used in conjunction with other manufacturing processes. For example; clear or white PVC sheets can be sublimated and then allowed to cool in the flat. The printed plastic can then be vacuum formed. Another example of sublimation printing and thermo-forming is with foam board