7 Variables of success in sublimation

by Inkraz Store on January 28, 2021
If you have a customization business based on the sublimation technique, your goal is to achieve regular, constant, predictable production in order to establish production, sales and income forecasts. But often problems arise and you find variables that are difficult to control. The adjustment of pressure, time and temperature are the variables usually controlled, and on which we tend to influence as key elements in achieving an optimal transfer of images.

Although there are also other decisive variables, which generally do not pose any problem when we work with the optimal values. They are the great unknown and for this reason, they are more difficult to control. In this post we are going to analyze all the variables that you must control to achieve an optimal result in sublimation.

1. Sublimation inks:
Working with the highest quality sublimation inks is essential. Sublimation is the chemical process in which inks transfer from paper to substrate, penetrating the surface of the substrate. It is true that ink cartridges are expensive and represent a significant outlay when we have to replace the ink. But if we analyze the amount of ink consumed in a single job, we will realize that it is a minimal portion of the total cost of the product. The benefits of using ink systems translate into fewer printer maintenance problems.

2. Sublimation paper:
The sublimation paper acts as a carrier for the ink, and it is important that it fulfills two functions: first, it must keep ink dots as small and defined as possible (known as minimum dot gain), and second, it should allow maximum ink release or transfer to obtain optimal color saturation.

3. Type of substrate:
Sublimation is done on a polyester surface or with a special polyester treatment. The polyester layer must be of the required thickness, and the final result will largely depend on this. If you use customizable items already prepared for sublimation, you will achieve a consistent result.

4. Environmental conditions:
Temperature and humidity also have a clear effect on the result. Sometimes the substrate will have to be ironed in advance to remove accumulated moisture. In some substrates (photographic panels) it is recommended to pre-iron them with a cloth so that the cloth absorbs the moisture released by the substrate. The significance of this variable will vary according to the environmental conditions of each place. And sometimes it will be necessary to apply a certain corrective factor to correct the extreme temperatures that can occur depending on seasonality: excessive cold in winter or excessive heat in summer.

5. Printer Type:
We must use an inkjet printer and use it exclusively for sublimation. We are interested in selecting a reliable printer that does not present maintenance problems. If you are thinking of converting your usual paper printer into a sublimation printer, I recommend that you do not do it. The price of printers has become very cheap and cleaning your printer's ink lines can be a difficult task. Don't miss our other post, where we explain why you shouldn't use your current printer for sublimation.

6. Printer ICC Profile:
The printer's ICC color profile must be properly calibrated before you start printing. If you have a Ricoh printer and you are going to use inks, download and install the appropriate color profile to achieve the desired colors. Remember that the design printed on the paper does not show the final color that will result when transferred to the substrate. Our INKRAZ Inks do not require the ICC profile.

7. Iron:
There are many transfer plates on the market, but we are interested in working with a robust plate that allows us to correctly regulate the pressure, temperature and time. Sometimes it is necessary to calibrate the temperature to verify that the resistors are working correctly, otherwise an irregular transfer of the design will occur.

It is important to know all these variables, to understand their impact on the final product. And we must try to control them as much as possible.

Whoever manages to control these variables, discovers that sublimation is a very simple technique. Anyone can get started in the sublimation technique, but only some get good results soon, and it is thanks to knowing and controlling these variables.

Have you gotten good results in sublimation? What variables were the most problematic for you?