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Sublimation Tips and Tricks

Our team has compiled a list of common sublimation problems, tips & tricks to help you optimize your printing process.

sublimation printing example sublimation printing example

What is dye sublimation?


The process of changing from a solid to a gas, or from a gas to a solid, without passing through an intermediate liquid phase. Dye sublimation is a unique printing process made especially for garments with polyester or polyester blend fabrics. In this printing process, the dye transitions between the solid and gas states without going through a liquid state, and attaches only onto the polyester threads.

Note: 100% polyester fabric (recommended for brightest colors). Blend of 65% polyester, 35% cotton fabric (recommended for vintage look) for dye sublimation printing.

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Sublimation Printing

Here are some helpful tips for those new to dye-sublimation printing

Step 1 Create a design. Use any photo editor such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

Step 2 Mirror your design and print it onto your sublimation print.

Step 3 When preparing for pressing, please ensure the garments and the sublimation papers are clean of lint and other residues.

Step 4 Set Heat Press for 350°F. Insert butcher paper between the fabrics to avoid gas transfer to the other side of your blank. To remove wrinkles and moisture, press for a few seconds only.

Step 5 Press your design onto your Laughing Giraffe® Apparel using a heat press. Your transfer paper should have recommended pressing times and temperatures. (Temp / Pressure used by some designers is – Medium Pressure at 385 degrees for 35 seconds.)
Note: Not all Heat Presses are calibrated the same so please test your printing before using for production.

Step 6 Open the press and remove the butcher paper and peel off the sublimation paper from the garment

** Protective paper on the top and bottom of a substrate, while it is being pressed, will protect your heat platen, bottom pad, and substrate. We recommend butcher paper not parchment paper nor Teflon sheets, as it traps moisture and will transfer sublimation ink to the next substrate. **

Common Sublimation Printing Issues & Tips
Working with a heat press takes some skill and time to perfect. Practicing is a good investment to ensure you do sublimation printing correctly.

1. Why are there blue thread/lint?
This is a common issue with finished garments being sublimated. The garment itself had lint before the press thus leaving a blue mark. Sublimation is very sensitive when pressing you must make sure the garment is clean and also that the sublimation paper has no residue or lint. When you press polyester it will pick up any residue on the heat press. If the blue spots look like tiny little fibers it's probably lint. Lint rollers and shaking out each garment vigorously before pressing help a lot. Some people use disposable butcher/parchment paper sheets instead of Teflon sheets to avoid lint building up on the Teflon.

2. Why Are There Brown Marks?
Too much heat and shorter curing time

3. Why is the Collar so Flat?
Too much pressure. It's unnecessary to heat press the collar in this case

Heat Press Errors

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