Heat Sublimation vs Heat Transfer Printing

Defending your business, you can choose a sublimation or heat transfer process for printing. Sublimation printing relay on the design has to put in a special sublimation transfer paper and sublimation ink used to print paper.

Then this design has to transfer to your garments with heat and press. So, the sublimation printing process is dependent on printing your design on paper first and then it has to transfer as an image or a design onto another material such as fabric or polybags.

Whenever we are talking about heat transfer printing this is also known as thermal printing heat directly onto your fabric or object surface with a design will locate for printing.

For heat transfer printing you need to have some special equipment for heat transferring elements such as a heat transfer printer, heat transfer paper, an additional paper cutter, etc.

The heat transfer method is used with the works on the surface which are put on the fabric or your objects and then press to the design.

Sublimation printing and heat press printing both have huge demand in the printing section. Depending on the client’s requirements are business purpose both types of painting is popular in the industrial printing section.

In this article, I will give details about the sublimation printing process and heat transfer printing process and at the end, I will give the difference between sublimation printing and heat transfer printing.

So that you can determine and decide which print theme is preferable for your business or your occasion.

 So, let’s get started

Heat Sublimation vs Heat Transfer Printing

Difference between sublimation and heat transfer printing

TopicSublimation printHeat transfer print
DefinitionCan define as using sublimating ink using, printing with sublimating paper, and design penetrating like a chemical reactionIt can be defined as sticker printing, where the total design will transfer through vinyl or heat transfer paper onto the fabric surface.
Durability abilityHigh durability and more than heat press printing.Less than sublimation print
Color fadednessNot too much. Color can be lasting for a long timeLess than sublimation, but designs color are more highlighting than sublimation. Know more here.
Number of giving washabilityAfter 80 to 100 wash color might be fadeAfter 40 to 50 washes, the color might be fade
PaperSublimation paper requireHeat transferring paper or vinyl paper require
ExpenseIt is expensiveLess expensive than sublimation.

What is sublimation printing?

Sublimation printing can be defined as where you select your design first and then transfer your design or image on a sublimation paper carefully and then this paper will transfer the design to your fabric with heat and pressure.

Another important point about sublimation printing is if you are going to place your design on a white or light color t-shirt that is made of cotton then sublimation printing is the best option for this.

Because sublimation ink is much more durable than this type of fabric color.

sublimation printing

In that sublimation printing process, you have to print and place your image or design on your sublimation paper after that when you are placing your design or image in a t-shirt or a cloth the image colors are not 100% transferring over there.

So there have some wastage of color and that reason the sublimation process is quite expensive.

Why sublimation is necessary?

For some reason and customer’s design, it’s impossible to do the printing without the sublimation printing method.

When you are thinking of giving a sharp design with high resolution and multiple colors of use then sublimation is your best choice.

Why sublimation is necessary?

This is because you can use so many colors with a different kind of design and size pattern with the paper size of sublimation and then put that design onto the fabric surface. You can do sublimation painting over the solid surface to a soft surface.

Usually, the temperature has to be situated around 350 degrees to 450 degrees centigrade depending on the material and sublimation of paper characters.

Step by step sublimation painting process

Step 01. Make your design for submission printing

Make your design first for sublimation printing. You can take help from Adobe Photoshop, sketch, or any other software and choose a multicolor design for your printing because sublimation can give multi-colors over theme polyester fabric or synthetic garments.

You have to make the design first because this desire needs to be printed on sublimation paper and then this paper will transfer the design over your government or hard surface objects.

Some creative design or Ideas could be taken place to advance innovation for printing technology.

Step 02. Print your design on sublimation paper

After selecting and making a design for sublimation printing it’s time to print your design for sublimation print.

For this purpose, you have to take a sublimation paper. sometimes you can do print with vinyl paper.

Because also these papers are specially made of bringing and holding sublimation ink to transfer the fabric surface. 

Talking about sublimation ink means a regular inject print ink which can use in any printer as sublimating ink.

Step 03. Place sublimation printing paper on textile fabrics

When your printed design is situated on a sublimation paper then it’s time to place your printing paper on your thinking objects.

For example, we can consider polishing your textile fabrics. You have to take a flat surface where you place your textile fabric first and then place the paper as its ink side is over onto the fabric surface.

Sublimation ink has a good quality of penetrations and it can be nicely attached to the object surface. One more advantage of sublimation printing is its durability so you should not or about its next step.

Step 04. Using a heat press machine

To transfer the sublimation ink and design to the printing objects it’s necessary to give ahead and pressure. In general, for the polyester fabric, you can give the heat around 170 to 190 degrees centigrade temperature.

For cotton fabric, this temperature could be 200 to 240 centigrade. The pressure would be the same for polyester and cotton.

Again, for a hard object, the pressure might be changed so you have to give even pressure and heat temperature to transfer the design on your printed object properly.

After giving this heat and pressure around 15 to 20 seconds you can stop the heat and facing process. 

Step 05. Finishing

After the heat and pressing process, you can turn off the sublimation paper from over your printing objects then you will discover that your design is perfectly situated on your material.

Now it’s time to give some time to chill down because it just comes from the heat press process.

After getting it matched with the natural temperature you will get a nice and well design long-lasting sublimation printed design on your fabric or any material objects.

Benefits of sublimation printing

  1. Sublimation printing will give you the best durability of printing.
  2. Ink and sublimation paper are available everywhere so you shouldn’t have already too much to run your business or production.
  3. Especially for polyester garments or sportswear sublimation ink and sublimation print is necessary.
  4. Sublimation printed fabric won’t give you any bad feelings after wear because the design is permanently attached to your favorite surface. On the other hand, the design won’t make you feel the extra weight.
  5. The printing design’s wash fastness is very good.
What is heat transferring printing?

What is heat transferring printing?

Heat transfer in printing is also known as thermal transfer printing. This printing method is another popular printing method. You can print designs in a short time and also for customized designs.

Whenever you are doing heat transferring printing, this printing design or objects have to get a place by a heat transfer paper. These thermal transfer papers carry wax so that, like a sticker, you can just press heat and transfer the design on your printed objects.

Vinyl heat transfer paper will give you the design. Which can give wash over 50 to 60 times but after that, it might get cracked and faith inside itself.

That’s a drawback of heat transfer printing. Heat transfer methods are mostly used for garment decoration for industrial purposes.

Some customized designs have to decorate besides the main part of the body of garments, in this case, their uses are huge.

Why do we do heat transfer printing?

You can do printing high-quality images by thermal transfer printing. Again, heat transfer printing has a value of customized printing issues.

On the other hand, you need to transfer paper for transferring your design to your favorite or printed objects. Heat transfer printing designs are heated resistance and have good ability for water resistance and adhesive.

In addition, head transfer printing will give you a bright and bolt design which makes the artwork more decorative and creative in business competition.

So many peoples are obsessed with heat transfer printing can be done in very small sizes is too big size.

Heat transfer printing process

Heat transfer printing process

The heat transfer printing process can be done with a pre-made image or design manufacturing after that you have to put this design on your garments for its design.

With a normal inject printer you can print heat transfer paper for printing. The special requirement depends on its transferring vinyl paper heat transfer printing process steps are given below.

Step 1. Design making

You can create your design or customized design by using the software. Graphic design software can help you to create an image view for printing.

You have to give the color and ink contrast in high value because it will treat on a heat transfer paper after that it will transfer on fabric.

So, if your design doesn’t have good color contrast it will get fade in the future.

Step 2. Print your design

Like another printing method, you have to print your design with heat transfer paper. In the market, you can get a heat transferring printing machine but you can print easily with an ordinary printing machine.

Special transfer paper will help to beer the sublimation in injecting pigments color die and adhesive on itself to print for the fabric or other objects.

Step 3. Cut with the vinyl cutting machine

A vinyl cutting machine is required for this step. Cut the unnecessary part from inside the design or edge and then your paper will get prepared for the press and transfer the design to the fabric surface

Step 4. Heat press machine set up

Depending on your fabric quality and properties you have to set up your press machine. When you are setting the heat press machine you have to be careful about its pressing limit, temperature, and heat press time.

You have to adjust the pressure setting and temperature. As we know the temperature ratio would be variable between the natural cotton fabric and synthetic polyester fabrics. 

On the other hand, pressing time is an important fact. Different types of papers that are you using for heat press printing are required for different heat timing. 

For example,

Vinyl transfer requires 30 to 50 seconds

Dye sublimation requires 20 to 30 seconds

Step 5. Press and remove the cover

In this part, you have to press your machine to transfer the design. After giving a sufficient amount of pressure and perfect timing you have to remove the cover from the above part of the fabric.

When you will remove the cover which was containing wax, you will see that your design is replaced with the fabric top part. Give some time to chill your design and fabric after that the fabric and the design will shrink a little bit.

Not only industrial but also custom garments can possible to make with help of a heat press machine and heat transfer printing.


Sublimation and heat transfer printing both are useful. Defending on your criteria and necessary you have to understand which method should you choose. On the other hand, if you know those printing methods very well you can make Diversity in your printing lab.

I would say all of those methods are beneficial and customized is possible but if you are satisfied enough with one specific method then I would suggest you go for your favorite method. The sublimation method will give you some advantage then heat transfer printing because of its ink durability property and wash fastness ability.

But for a small part of printing as a sticker heat transfer printing is a good choice. At the end of the day for printing technology, you need both. I hope this article helps you a lot to know about sublimation and heat transfer printing.

Read More Guide Articles On:

How to Make Sublimation Prints Brighter

Heat Transfer VS Screen Printing: When You Need Which One?

How To Make Digital Heat Transfer? (Easy Guide)

How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl on a Cricut Machine

What Are The Different Types Of Heat Press Machines?

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