To explain where the black went, or rather more accurately, where it comes from in CMYO dye sublimation printing, I need to delve into the rest of how it works. As stated previously, a standard 4CP inkjet printer is needed to print dyes as well, but the dye must be printed on a treated paper cleverly named "transfer paper."An image is printed in reverse (or mirror printed) on the transfer paper. The paper is matched up to a piece of fabric. The fabric cannot be a natural fiber because of the process that will be explained momentarily. The fabric typically used most of the time is polyester because it is a versatile fiber that can be made to look like anything from an oil canvas to a sheer fabric to a double-sided knit material that can be made into a double-sided flag or banner.
Once the paper is matched to the fabric, it is run through heated rollers at high pressure. The rollers are heated to just under 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 210 degrees Celsius. As the fabric goes through the heated rollers, two things happen. First, the pores or cells of the poly-fabric open up, while simultaneously the dye on the paper is converted to a gaseous state. The gas impregnates the open cells which close as they leave the heated rollers. This creates a continuous tone print which cannot be achieved using an inkjet printer because of the dot pattern laid down by the inkjets.Some advantages to dye sublimation printing is that the image is a part of the fabric, so it doesn't peel off like ink on the surface of fabric or other materials and will not fade for many years. The dye cannot build up on fabric like t-shirts either. Everyone had worn a printed shirt where the ink felt like it was very stiff on the surface of the material, and over time it will begin to flake off. This will not happen with dye sublimation ink and sublimation transfer paper.If an item such as plastic or aluminum is coated with a special polymeric coating, these items can also be printed. Besides banners and posters and flags, other items that are commonly printed with dye sublimation heat transfer printing are clothing items such as T-shirts, table covers, sportswear, ID cards, and signs.
What is the other advantages of dye sublimation printing?Other advantages are that the colors can be more brilliant than other types of printing because of the process of dye sublimation and the continuous tones that are achieved when the dye converts to a gaseous state. Because in printing garments the fabric is printed before the shirt or jacket is constructed, the image can go to the edge of the fabric which is not achievable typically with screen printed shirts.