Dye-sublimation printing is a digital printing technology using full color
artwork that works with polyester and polymer-coated substrates. The
process is commonly used for decorating apparel including baseball caps,
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.
After the digital design is printed onto sublimation transfer sheets, it is placed
on a heat press along with the substrate to be sublimated.
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 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.