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 312 reviews
Custom printed reusuable masks with MeowPrint. Service staff and communication is prompt and helpful. Delivery is timely. Most importantly, quality of mask is good with reasonable price. Value for money choice.
Dennis Lim
Dennis Lim
10:21 11 Sep 20
great service and good quality, very happy with the final result!
Greg Thom
Greg Thom
14:52 09 Sep 20
Great working with MeowPrint! Would definitely purchase t-shirts from them again.
Admin Codefolio
Admin Codefolio
08:37 09 Sep 20
Super easy to coordinate and order with MeowPrints! Will order again with them! 🙂
NG WEE LYNN SHERYLL _
NG WEE LYNN SHERYLL _
03:56 09 Sep 20
Speedy service and they were as accommodating as possible to all the request for customization. Products were of good quality! Highly recommend
Abigail Lim
Abigail Lim
09:53 04 Sep 20
Appreciate the service provided by the team, particularly Janice, to ensure that the customized masks reached on time for Teacher’s Day, despite a relatively late order.
su_ 123
su_ 123
04:44 01 Sep 20
excellent customer service; flexible and very patient. product of the orders turned out better than expected for the price (quality was great). best t shirt printing service ive come upon so far, definitely would order from them again 🙂
03 csen2
03 csen2
15:11 27 Aug 20
Amazing service and fast replies! Highly recommend!
Shervyn Eng
Shervyn Eng
09:32 12 Aug 20
Xiao Fen is wonderful and very helpful. The turnaround time is very quick and the shirts I wanted came out perfect! I highly recommend MeowPrint!
Rachel Ho
Rachel Ho
06:52 07 Aug 20
Responsive supplier. Items ready in a week. Quality is not bad.
Joseph Chua
Joseph Chua
05:49 07 Aug 20
Ordering process was quick and easy with the friendly staff at MeowPrint!
Alia Dobles
Alia Dobles
11:12 06 Aug 20
Excellent customer service by Xiaofen who is prompt and patient with her replies!
Lionel Lee
Lionel Lee
07:56 06 Aug 20
Loved working with Meow Print, especially with their excellent customer service that responds fast and do their best to help me out. Product came out just the way as planned with great accuracy. Hope to work with you again on a new product.
Wazir Ahmed
Wazir Ahmed
06:36 06 Aug 20
tay tay
tay tay
05:33 01 Aug 20
Mee Ling Moo
Mee Ling Moo
13:19 27 Jul 20
Highly recommended for their service and quality. Good pricing too.
Senze Instruments
Senze Instruments
01:12 20 Jul 20
Super fuss-free experience. Their website has all the information you need to choose the right shirt for your needs – great range of cotton shirt to choose from.Prices are also transparent. They clearly state the price of printing so I feel assured I’m not being overcharged. Bulk printing is cheaper too, but even when I ordered 30 shirts it came at a really affordable price.Ordered the Gildan Premium Cotton Tee in Heather Grey. Super soft cotton tee, not too stiff or thick like the standard ones you get at other tee printing shops. So loved that I got to choose the quality of cotton tee.Printed logo came out great too! A4 size single colour print was sufficient to fill the shirt nicely!
Amanda Tay
Amanda Tay
15:57 13 Jul 20
Very easy to deal with! Replies were prompt and the company was very helpful with catering to my requests and enquiries.
Lim Kai Jun
Lim Kai Jun
13:36 13 Jul 20
Just Jaz
Just Jaz
08:58 11 Jul 20
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
06:59 30 Mar 20
Bella Luna
Bella Luna
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

💪 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.