Sublimation printing requires a tight marriage between the transfer paper and the blank product during pressing. If the paper shifts or is not firmly planted against the substrate, the result will be ghosting and/or gassing out.
Ghosting results in a blurry image, typically characterized by a shadow effect along or outside of the edges. Gassing out is the term used for a “burst” of ink outside of the image area.
To avoid these problems, it is crucial to have a tight fit between the heat transfer paper and the substrate. I recommend using heat-resistant tape to secure the transfer to the product. Be careful not to tape across the image area, as this can damage the image quality. In addition, use only a minimal amount of tape, since you will need to easily and quickly remove the transfer after pressing.
When sublimating apparel, you can use repositionable spray adhesive instead of tape. Apply a very light mist on the image side of the transfer paper from about 10 inches away. Do not spray the shirt. Next, press the transfer paper to the product. If you position it incorrectly, you can lift it off and reposition it.
Regardless of how you adhere the sublimation paper to the product, it’s important that when you remove it, it doesn’t slide along the surface of the substrate. This may spread sublimation dye into unwanted areas and cause ghosting. Ideally, with hard substrates, the transfer will be lifted off the surface quickly and cleanly. With apparel, you may get better results by grabbing one end of the paper and pulling it away slowly, while firmly holding the garment down.
Dirty or stained Teflon blowout sheets also can cause ghosting. This is another reason that you may want to consider using newsprint or butcher paper instead of Teflon.
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