What is Dye Sublimation printing?

Sublimation printing is the process where ink is sublimated into the fabric (100% nylon / polyester) at high temperature.

What you get is a fully all-over printed apparels with designs ink inside the fabric (smooth feel of the T-Shirt).

Recent Sublimation Printed Apparel

The ink undergoes a process from solid to gaseous state without undergoing the liquid state.

This process of sublimation allows the ink to be part of the fabric. At the end, it feels that you printed directly onto the fabric itself, as you cannot feel the ink, unlike silk screen printing or DTG Printing where you can feel the ink. 

The unique feature of sublimation printing is precisely that the ink is in the fabric. This is in contrast to other digital transfer methods such as digital heat transfer printing where the printing is done on the exterior of the fabric. This makes it a unique printing method when it comes to T-Shirt Printing in Singapore.

At Meowprint, our Sublimation printing services have a lead-time of about 3-4 weeks from the start of processing of our orders.

With only a minimum order quantity of 50 pieces, you are able to customize your all-over printed apparel.

1. How did Sublimation printing come about?

Interestingly, the origins of sublimation printing are a result of the discovery of piezoelectricity and research of inkjet printers. Noel de Plasse first invented sublimation printing in 1957.

He cleverly discovered that high temperatures could cause specific dyes to sublimate. But, this was later discovered that his dyes didn’t really sublimate and that it was more of a dye-diffusion process.

The subsequent events that took place are then subject to debate. On the one hand, it has been said that Nobutoshi Kihara, who worked for Sony, adapted dye diffusion into a proper dye-sublimation process primarily for the purposes of printing video stills.

But, at the same time, across the other side of the world, Wes Hoekstra in California was thought to have developed the first computer-driven sublimation system.

What’s important to know is that – the advance of technology and the increased demand for such high quality products have caused a increase in the prevalence of sublimation printing today.

2. What is Sublimation process?

We mentioned above a very brief idea of what sublimation printing is. If you are eager to learn more about it now, fret not, because this section will be dedicated to elaborating on the process of sublimation printing as well as the equipment and materials that you might need.

The idea of sublimation is crucial in this process. To refresh your memories from the glorious days in schools, sublimation is essentially the process where a substance transitions from the solid state into the gaseous state.

The important thing to note here is that the liquid state is leapfrogged. Conversely, the process of deposition is the opposite.

In this process, a substance transitions from the gas phase directly into a solid, again leapfrogging the liquid phase. Do keep this in mind, as this will then help you understand the later sections of this article.

sublimation process
Sublimation Process

3. Process of Sublimation T-Shirt printing (Step-by-step)

Basically, successful sublimation printing can be done in this two part process :

  1. Printing the design onto a special transfer paper using sublimation inks.
  2. Using a heat press to transfer the design on the special paper (in Step 1) onto the t-shirt


As you can see from the process above, the crucial equipment used in sublimation printing is:

  1. A sublimation printer, sublimation inks and a software to control your printer.
  2. Transfer paper (or sublimation paper)
  3. A heat press machine
Sublimation printing process
Sublimation printing process

Printing the design onto the transfer paper

The sublimation printing process begins with a printer and unique sublimation inks.

A dye-sublimation printer uses heat to transfer dye onto various materials. Sublimation ink is unique because of its ability to convert from a solid to a gas without going through a liquid form.

  • First, the printing process starts with films that contain dyes (ink). The film typically includes 4 color pigments, cyan magenta, yellow and gray.
  • Typically, this could either take the form of a single film with 4 layers of colors, or 4 individual films for each color.
  • Then, during the printing process the pigments in these films are heated up and transferred onto the transfer paper through a piezoelectric print head. This print head is capable of printing at least 200 different shades of each color!
  • The pigments will then transition into gaseous state and leave the film.
  • The pigments will subsequently cool and solidify onto the transfer paper. This is the sublimation process!

Transferring design on the paper onto the t-shirt

Now that you have successfully printed your design onto a sublimation paper, the next step is to transfer this onto the final product – your t-shirts.

In order to do this, a heat press is required. With the application of heat and pressure for a period of time, the design can be imprinted onto the t-shirt. The period of time is dependent on the dye formulation and the type of fabric of the t-shirt.

Again, this requires the process of sublimation all over again. The high temperature from the heat press causes the dye on the paper to sublime into a vapor/gas. At the same time, the pores of the t-shirt that you’re pressing heat onto will also open up. Once pressure is released and heat is cooled, the dye will then turn back into solid form.

The result? The pores of the t-shirt will then close and the gas reverts back to a solid state. Because the pores of the t-shirt have encapsulated the ink whilst it was closing, the ink is now part of the fabric.

The difference between Inkjet and Sublimation Printers

The comparison between inkjet and sublimation printers can be useful to further show how sublimation printers work!

One interesting fact about the sublimation printer is that the color produced by it is of a higher quality than typical inkjet printers .

For one, inkjet printers print by spraying droplets of liquid ink from the nozzles. But if you magnify this result, you can still somewhat see the primary colors.

On the other hand, sublimation printers are capable of producing images with continuous tones of colors. These colors physically blend together.

We have shared much technical details about the process of sublimation printing on t-shirts (that’s our forte!) Well, if you need more visual reference, check out the video below.

4. Advantages & Disadvantages of Sublimation Printing

To help you make a better choice when deciding on the type of t-shirt printing services, we have also come up with some advantages and disadvantages of dye sublimation printing method.

Advantages

  • An all-over print effect on the t-shirts is achieved as ink is printed from seam-to-seam.
  • You can’t feel the ink as it will become part of the fabric and the end product is a soft-hand feel.
  • Long-lasting quality design as the printing becomes part of the fabric.
  • Thousands of colors to choose from!

Disadvantages

  • Type of t-shirt is restricted as only certain types of fabric are suitable for sublimation printing. eg suitable for 100% nylon / polyester material only.
  • The color of the t-shirt is restricted to white or light-coloured ones.

5. Sublimation printing can be used for the following Products from our T-Shirt Printing catalogue.

Apparels

  1. ✅ All T-Shirts
  2. ✅ All Polo T-Shirts
  3. ✅ All Outerwear
  4. ✅ All Singlets & Tank Tops
  5. ✅ All Caps & Hats
  6. ✅ All Corporate Uniforms
  7. ✅ All Workwear
  8. ✅ All Shorts & Pants

Promotional Products

  1. ✅ All Bags
  2. ✅ All Towels
  3. ✅ All Drinkware
  4. ✅ All Lanyards
  5. ❌ All Embroidery Goods
  6. ✅ All Personal Care

6. Recommendations for Sublimation printing by MEOWPRINT

Sublimation printing is recommended for customers who are looking to print all-over full-coloured designs.

Popular apparels would be cycling apparels & jersey printed apparels as well as retail fashion brands.

For cycling team apparel, you can match this method along with embroidery for that professional team outlook.

Many of our corporate customers opt for sublimation printing as their designs and customization of colors throughout the apparel can be very complex.

The costs is not cheap but you get one-of-a-kind corporate apparel!

If you need cotton or honeycomb material for customization, then this method is not suitable. However you can check out our custom-made services as well.

7. Recent Projects of Sublimation Printed Apparels

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⭐ Customer Reviews

Still have reservations on our Sublimation Printing Services? Let our customers’ genuine feedback help you!

MeowPrint T-Shirt Printing
4.9
Based on 295 reviews
Great customer service from Xiaofen and very good quality shirts.
Reyes Ng Boon Leng
Reyes Ng Boon Leng
08:01 02 Jul 20
Fast and efficient service. Quality of the dri-fit t-shirt is good. Price very reasonable.
Edison Ho
Edison Ho
12:16 01 Jul 20
Mohamed Ashik
Mohamed Ashik
09:35 30 Jun 20
Fast replies! Very efficient and easy to deal with. Thank you for the very good service!
Umar Sabri
Umar Sabri
08:13 25 Jun 20
Great experience – a small mistake in the sample but they quickly rectified and delivery was not affected. Thank you to Xiao Fen for the quick follow up! Appreciate your help 🙂
Li Tong Low
Li Tong Low
08:11 24 Jun 20
Great customer service by Janice! Good quality print and quality of shirt also
Social Distancing
Social Distancing
12:10 23 Jun 20
Pakshalikhaa Reddy
Pakshalikhaa Reddy
04:14 17 Jun 20
Im happy with the quality of the t-shirt. The overalls experience was completed smoothly during Circuit Breaker period from enquiry to collection of finished product. The email correspondence was fast and informatics. I will come back for the next printing. Thank you very much.
Vincent Chai
Vincent Chai
11:13 12 Jun 20
Trena Tan
Trena Tan
01:58 12 Jun 20
Best customer service staff name ( Xiao Fen) for guiding us the best and suitable material for us and helping us find the correct font for our printing.Strongly recommend MeowPrint T Shirt Printing to everyone, they are sincere, reliable,Wonderful service! Will order again from them 👍👍👍
Zen Ng
Zen Ng
07:09 10 Jun 20
Madhumita Thiruppathi
Madhumita Thiruppathi
10:11 09 Jun 20
Aik Min Ng
Aik Min Ng
07:04 09 Jun 20
Our 2nd time getting our company polos from MeowPrint. As good as the 1st!
James Chia
James Chia
11:34 08 Jun 20
3rd time our company has made staff t-shirts from MeowPrint and we love it more each time! White, ash grey and my favourite colour is the latest royal blue! Very comfy and durable – we wear them every day and they are still holding up well. Definitely value for money. Great service from Xiao Fen too 🙂 Thanks a lot!
Tyran T Rex
Tyran T Rex
04:53 08 Jun 20
Really efficient staff and satisfied with products!
Clamus Pang
Clamus Pang
09:15 23 May 20
Antuny Chua
Antuny Chua
04:19 22 May 20
eden cube
eden cube
06:32 20 May 20
Very good and fast printing service!
Xs Tang
Xs Tang
05:29 18 May 20
Fast response even during the CB (Circuit Breaker…) period! Especially Xiao Fen who replied almost within the hour and helped with the design and suggestions. This vendor is a keeper!!
Sing Choon Wong
Sing Choon Wong
03:04 13 May 20
Helpful in taking our orders and attending to our urgency. Thank you for the kindness too!
Eddie Tan
Eddie Tan
04:25 27 Apr 20
We highly recommend MeowPrint for your corporate uniform needs. The staff was responsive and efficient throughout our ordering process and we did not have to wait very long or chase for replies. The pricing of their polo tees with embroidery is also very reasonable and value-for-money. Thank you, MeowPrint!
Christine Mah
Christine Mah
03:02 24 Apr 20
The price for Polo Tee Printing from Meow Print is reasonable.The material and colour of the shirt look exactly the same as the catalogue.I would like to Special commenting Xiao Fen , the sales representative. She have been very patience and helpful from the start till the shirts are handed over to the customer.Will return for more tshirt printing .
Guo Liang Chong
Guo Liang Chong
07:38 23 Apr 20
Xiao Fen provided prompt and helpful tips during the ordering process. As I was pressed for the order, Meow Print produced and delivered the order earlier than the expected time. Thank you, Meow Print team!
Vincent Natasha
Vincent Natasha
04:48 23 Apr 20
Very good service and fast response. Even provided better resolution artwork for our t shirt design. 5 stars!
Danial Suhaimi
Danial Suhaimi
04:49 10 Apr 20
I had an amazing and incredible experience with MeowPrint. The customer service was done excellently and the production of the hoodies was completed within a day! The job was done and the quality is superb. I totally recommend going through MeowPrint for your custom T-shirt printing!
Alexandre LOO
Alexandre LOO
14:28 06 Apr 20
Ordering and production was fast and service was friendly 😃😃😃
hui min
hui min
05:51 31 Mar 20
Fuss-free and pleasant experience dealing with Meow Print! High quality prints for an affordable price. Would recommend 🙂
sarah
sarah
14:28 27 Mar 20
Fatheen Nabeelah Mohamad Ikbal
Fatheen Nabeelah Mohamad Ikbal
00:33 26 Mar 20
Printing and apparels quality were good and overall satisfied with the services provided.
Cher Ting
Cher Ting
06:01 24 Mar 20
Amazing and friendly customer service. Was very patient as i gathered up the information needed for the shirts and was easy to discuss with. Fast responder and completed the shirts on time. The shirts have great, clear printing and is made of good quality, overall great experience with them.
Leena Aw
Leena Aw
03:51 23 Mar 20
rebecca teo
rebecca teo
03:51 17 Mar 20
isabel koo
isabel koo
03:18 17 Mar 20
CheeKeong Koo
CheeKeong Koo
03:16 17 Mar 20
Great products, super quick efficient service, 100% recommend
sally lodey
sally lodey
01:26 17 Mar 20
Everything was straight forward and fast. That’s the key! Once design and quality of material for your apparel is confirmed. You will receive your goods in the given time frame.
Bryce Kho
Bryce Kho
00:36 17 Mar 20
Prompt with their assistance and received goods as planned, will come back again to order more! Thanks Meowprint!
Linda Wang.Matthew
Linda Wang.Matthew
16:26 16 Mar 20
janelle chia
janelle chia
08:13 16 Mar 20
Impressive lead time and quality of shirts delivered! Highly recommended for anyone looking for T-shirt printing!
Sebastian Png
Sebastian Png
09:09 07 Mar 20
Meow Print responded to my emails and calls super quickly. They were also prompt in creating design samples to ensure that we are on the same page when it came to printing the shirts. Most importantly! Their heat transfer printing quality is great! the colors came out well!
enge xue
enge xue
10:38 05 Mar 20
Fantastic and speedy customer service. The delivery was fast too. Thanks xiao fen for processing my orders.
Esther Lim
Esther Lim
09:20 05 Mar 20
Great experience dealing with Meowprint as they were professional, straightforward and fuss-free!
Nicole Liew
Nicole Liew
15:12 04 Mar 20
They supplied my order in 6 days!! Which was beyond my expectations! The staff were very patient with my choice of design! I would recommend them definitely! 💜
Manpreet Kaur
Manpreet Kaur
11:13 04 Mar 20
Had a superb and pleasant experience with MeowPrint. Xiao Fen is very patient and attentive to address to the needs and queries we may have and recommend the most suitable shirt for our needs. She even pointed out that there may be one problem with our shirt design, promptly went to suggest a solution and thus rectify it. The ordering process was fast, got the shirts in less than a week! The shirts were of good quality and very comfortable to wear. Will certainly work with them again in the future! 😀
Guo Wei Goh
Guo Wei Goh
09:31 04 Mar 20
Great quality, communication & delivery! Fast, too!!
Allison
Allison
10:21 21 Feb 20
Felicia Koh
Felicia Koh
08:08 18 Feb 20
They were able to deliver my caps on time despite their busy schedule and short notice over the Chinese New Year period. The embroidery quality is pretty amazing as well. Thank you for your excellent service. 🙂
stephanie victoria
stephanie victoria
03:34 12 Feb 20
Daphne T
Daphne T
13:00 31 Jan 20
Catered to my queries, no matter how many there were. Upfront and let me know what is possible, does not hide facts, so no disappointments overall. Thank you so much!
Zafirah Akhbar
Zafirah Akhbar
17:55 23 Jan 20
The products were delivered as expected after placing an order of tees a week ago. Quality of the tees are very good.
Edward Yeo
Edward Yeo
19:13 21 Jan 20
Thank you for fast and effective transaction. Janice is very helpful. Till my next purchase. 😍❤️
Janice Estipular-Velasco
Janice Estipular-Velasco
12:58 07 Jan 20

💪 Ready to customize T-Shirts & Apparels?

We believe that T-Shirt Printing should be easy and hassle-free. Custom t-shirts represent the identity of a group of individuals, be it for an event or a corporate team. That is why our passionate crew are here to provide the best experience for you.