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Any personalization technique poses certain initial difficulties, which are part of the natural learning process. If you have a safe driving license, you remember that the beginnings were not easy, and it took a certain time and a lot of practice to be able to drive correctly. This same example serves to explain the learning of any personalization technique, you learn from experience.
In the case of sublimation, we can highlight five common problems that personalization professionals usually face during their training process. Each of these problems can be avoided by taking certain corrective measures, which we have tried to summarize below. Keep reading and you will be able to save yourself losses because we offer you the solution to each of these problems.
Banding in sublimation If you notice certain lines where ink is missing when printing, this is a banding problem. And usually, the cause is a clogged print heads. All inks, both sublimation and other inks, dry out over time. When this happens inside the heads, the flow of ink is interrupted and this results in bands in the print where ink is missing.
If you print regularly (at least several times a week), the ink will not get to dry inside the heads. But if your workflow doesn't require this printing frequency, you could suffer from banding problems.
The easiest way to avoid this problem is to activate a small flow of ink through the heads using the head cleaning function of the printer. Ricoh printers do this automatically, as long as you leave the printer on continuously. However, on Epson printers you must perform a manual head cleaning on a regular basis every few days, but it is as simple as pressing a button.
Apart from head clogging, the banding problem will also arise when some ink runs out. So before looking for other causes, check that your printer has enough ink.
Moisture in the sublimation process can produce undesirable effects. During sublimation, the transfer plate generally operates at 200ºC, and the accumulated moisture instantly transforms into steam causing the ink to shift. Moisture build-up problems can result in color shift (colors lose precision), color bleed in images, and spot color unevenness.
Under normal circumstances, the sublimation paper can accumulate some moisture, and this moisture generally dissipates into the customizable item during ironing. However, some rigid substrates, such as metal panels and ceramic products, do not allow moisture dissipation. For this reason, it is important to adopt certain preventive measures to minimize the presence of moisture in these processes.
Moisture problem in sublimation
Recommendations to avoid this problem:
Protect the sublimation paper against humidity. To do this, you must store it in a dry place, inside a container or a self-closing bag. If you think the paper has accumulated moisture, place it on the iron for a few seconds without closing the iron. The heat from the transfer plate will evaporate the moisture.
In T-shirt sublimation, it is recommended to pre-iron the T-shirt for 6-10 seconds to remove moisture.
If you are going to customize rigid items, such as photo panels, tiles, mugs, etc. that have been stored in cold places, it is advisable to pre-iron the item before customizing it. Ironing time will depend on the dimensions of the item, and can range from 30 to 60 seconds.
The optimal environmental conditions for sublimation are a temperature of 20-26ºC and a relative humidity of 35-65%.
thermal-adhesive-tape In sublimation, during ironing the printed paper must remain in contact with the sublimable surface without moving. Moving the paper will result in blurry images.
To avoid this problem, it is essential to keep the printed image fixed on the sublimable article. Use thermal adhesive tape to secure the paper to the product. Do not use a large piece of masking tape over the entire surface of the paper as it could affect the quality of the image. Simply glue the edges of the paper to the product. Always use the minimum amount of masking tape necessary to be able to remove the paper easily after sublimation. When removing the paper after sublimation, it is important that you do not slide the paper over the surface of the product because it could generate a blurry image. Pick up the paper from one end, quickly and cleanly.
The Teflon sheet could also generate blurred images if it is dirty, to avoid this we recommend that you always use protective paper that will protect the base of the iron and also the upper plate.
Color management The computer screen reproduces colors in RGB format, while the printer prints in CMYK. Therefore, it is necessary to install the driver that will manage the color and translate the colors from one format to another on the computer. The supplier of the sublimation inks must supply the appropriate color profile for the type of inks and printer model free of charge.
However, the design printed on paper on your sublimation printer will not show the final colors. But you will have to do the ironing on the customizable product to be able to appreciate the final colors. You can also create a color table to use as a reference, and to be able to relate the final production colors to the colors you see on the screen. To do this, you can print the color palette used by the sublimation printer driver, and iron this print on the customizable fabric / support. This way, you will have a visual reference of the final colors. And you will be able to select your colors based on this color chart.
On polyester garments, it is a common problem that the edges of the sublimation paper create permanent marks when ironed. In some cases, these marks are softened when the garment is washed, but in other cases it is a problem that does not go away.
The solution is to experiment with less pressure, less time or even less temperature during ironing to soften this effect. Experiment with each of these variables separately and check the result. Keep a written record of all these settings to identify which one is best for a certain fabric.
There is also a trick that involves tearing the edges of the paper to smooth them out. I refer you to our post on this topic.
These are the most common problems in sublimation, and in this post we offer you solutions for each of them. Surely with experience, you yourself will have your tricks to get the best result. If you think you can contribute your experience to this post, write to us. What problems have you suffered in sublimation? What solutions have you adopted?