There is a fabric suitable for dye sublimation printing. Also, there are many pros or advantages when it comes to this kind of fabric printing.
Fabrics for Dye Sublimation Printing
A fabric that has polymeric cellular structure works fine with sublimation printing. I will discuss later why these polymers are necessary for the method to work.
There are fabrics with polymers that come with different names such as polyester. These include acrylic, nylon (but doesn’t work with dye sublimation), polyacrylonitrile, spandex, polyethylene terephthalate, and two others that I can barely recall.
Because of the pricing, usage, and availability, the best choice is polyester. It is the least expensive out of the ones mentioned. If you have a dye sublimation printer, might as well experiment with it. You might discover something new.
The Polyester Fabric
For sublimation to work, the fabric must at least be 60% polyester. But a fabric that is 100% polyester is best for you to achieve a superior print quality as 100% of the fabric is able to accept the dyes as they enter the fabric in gas form straight into the open polymer pores.
You must be wondering how the process works and why polyester is the fabric of choice as compared to wool, nylon, or even cotton.
The dye is not the same as the typical digital printer that used the CMYK color set. The color set used is CMYO where O is the clear overprint. It is printed on the heat transfer paper first, and it turns to black as it is pressed onto the fabric.
The graphic is printed first on the heat transfer paper. After that, it is pressed against the polyester fabric through a set of heated rollers at 370F or higher. The high temperature converts the dyes to gas and, at the same time, opens the polymer cells. The converted gas then pours into the open polymers.
As you can see, without the polymers, dye sublimation printing won’t work. Hence, the more the polymers, the better the print result. I would recommend using a cloth that is 100% polyester.
Benefits of Dye Sublimation
1. Best for fabric printing.
This is your best choice if you want to print on fabric items. The inks won’t build up which prevents wicking of moisture off the body. For indoors, they are visually perfect at close up with colors that are guaranteed to last for up to three decades.
2. The prints can last for long
This method is able to produce a print that can last for long as compared to other methods available out there. The best state flags are made from polyester as they are wind and fade resistant.
3. Resistant to fading
As the dyes are permanently embedded on the fabric, you can wash them and the colors won’t fade. In fact, I have a Hawaiian t-shirt with floral prints. I have washed it a lot of times now. It’s been years and the dyes haven’t faded at all.
4. Rich color tones
The last pro I can think of is the richness of the color tone when pressed on the polyester cloth. The converted dye to gas in the heat transfer process blends the dyes well, producing an unparalleled photographic print.