Dye-sublimation ink is a water-based ink,which is a much different type of ink than other typical printing solutions. Sublimation ink is printed on special sublimation paper (similar in look/feel to thicker copy paper) which releases the ink once it is heat activated in the press, turning it from solid to gas while bypassing the liquid stage.
It is well-known to all that dye sublimation ink is compatible with a select few existing small format printer models, such as the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG400 and SG800 printers, the Epson Artisan 1430, and the older Ricoh SG3110DN and SG7100DN. It is also available for some wide format Epson and Mutoh printer models for those who seek high production, larger printing and high cost savings (lower cost for ink overall). There are so few models available because it is a special ink that also requires specific color correction software, and that is available for these select printer platforms for greatest performance consistency. Older formulations of sublimation ink, such as those for Epson printers, have a higher water to dye ratio, which makes them more susceptible to drying up and clogging the nozzles if not used daily, but are the only small format inks that offer a bulk-system option for higher volume printing and lower cost. The newer Sublijet R and Sublijet HD inks for Ricoh and Virtuoso printers are reformulated into a gel-like substance, which uses less water, preventing clogs when printer is not being used daily, however only come in cartridges and are not available for a bulk system.
Sublimation transfer printing process by dye sublimation ink and sublimation transfer paper for sublimation products is sually done at around 370-400F depending on the item and the process ends as soon as heat is no longer applied and item starts cooling down. Sublimation ink dyes the garment/item on a molecular level rather than being transferred just on top, which results in a permanent solution under normal conditions. Since the dye can be re-activated at really high heat at any point, it is important to transfer a full design from a single sheet of paper in a one-step process. The ink can be reactivated at temperatures as low as 340F, and sometimes even lower, and could stain equipment or already pressed items.However,there is one point we should keep in mind that sublimation printing only compaty with white or very light substrates, as the color of a non-white shirt will bleed into the image (and black will block an image out entirely, so sublimation onto black t-shirts is not possible at all).
It is also best compatible with 100% polyester garments and polyester-coated items . Other blends of polyester will work as well, but only the polyester content will be dyed – ie: 50/50 blends of poly/cotton will turn out half as bright as a 100% polyester garment. This method does not work on natural fibers (cotton, rayon, wool, etc) as it will wash out completely. It will not transfer on non-coated items.