If you’ve ever purchased custom printed clothing, bags and other material-based items from websites, then you may have noticed that they state the type of printing that was used. You’ve likely encountered these 2 types of printing: sublimation and heat transfer printing. But if you’re like most people, you have no idea what that means. So, in this article, we will be taking a closer look at these types of printing and the pros and cons of each one.
Heat transfer printing indicates the use of heat and pressure when applying custom designs to t-shirts or other items. The two common types of heat transfer are vinyl and digital print.
With vinyl heat transfer, a machine is used to actually cut out the required designs in colored vinyl and then a heat press is used to transfer the vinyl cut outs onto the object that is being printed on.
Digital heat transfer, on the other hand, is where the design is created digitally and transferred onto a special heat transfer paper with solvent ink. This ink is specially made so that it can be transferred from the paper to the object being printed upon. In both vinyl and digital heat transfer methods, a heat press machine needs to be used to transfer the graphics onto the t-shirt or another item.
Sublimation printing is when sublimation dyes are printed onto a specially prepared transfer medium with an inkjet printer. Then, the dyes are transferred from that medium onto the object or material of choice through the use of a commercial heat press. Do note that this type of printing is best done on items made out of 100% polyester.
When the heat is applied to the medium, the dye ‘sublimates’ (which means that it turns into a gas) which is absorbed by the polyester. This is an extremely popular way to create all-over printed t-shirts which can be sold for a premium price.
There are many reasons why sublimation printing is popular and one of them is they provide full color and don’t require the use of screens. This type of printing can be used when making only a couple of t-shirts and will be much less expensive than screen printing. As a result, the use of sublimation printing prevents the need for minimum orders because of the minimum setup and costs involved.
This type of printing also makes it easier for custom orders and customization of pre-existing designs. Since each piece of clothing is printed on its own medium and screens are not reused for printing in mass, customization is very simple to achieve. This makes it the perfect method for online t-shirt sellers who want to customize t-shirts or bags for specific customers while keeping printing costs low.
Heat Transfer vs Sublimation Printing: Which is more cost-effective?
Sublimation printing also creates designs that are long lasting, durable and the actual print is neither heavy or thick. As a result, the end product is a beautifully printed item that won’t ever crack or peel. The high quality of sublimation prints when combined with its cost effectiveness, make it the ideal choice for printing custom designs.
On the other hand, if you need to make hundreds or thousands of t-shirts with a very simple design, then heat transfer printing might be the most effective and cheaper option. This type of printing is also very easy to do which makes it the ideal form of printing for newbies.
In closing, we have just looked at the differences between heat transfer and sublimation printing. The above information should help you to determine the best type of printing to use for personal or commercial use.