Dye sublimation printing starts with films that contain dyes. This will either be a single four layered film with cyan, magenta, yellow, and gray pigments or four separate films for each color. Because the films contain the pigments, they will appear red, blue, green, and gray.
Dye sublimation printers do one thing well: photo quality full color images. They are neither practical for document printing nor are they as fast as inkjet printers. A dye sub printer takes about a minute to produce a print regardless of whether it's a full color photo or a page of typed text because it still has to print each pixel thermally. An inkjet printer will only print the areas that need to be printed, so it can produce a full page of typed text in seconds. On the other hand, to produce a photographic quality print, an inkjet printer can take up to 10 minutes.
When it comes to printing on different kinds of papers, a dye sub is limited to papers and films. An inkjet printer can print to just about anything you can run through it, including cotton canvas, envelopes, cardstock, and foam backed presentation board.
Inkjet printers are more versatile, and since most people print both photographs and documents, they accept the trade-offs. Until recently, when low cost digital cameras and powerful computers became available to the general public, the only people who truly needed dye sublimation printing were photography studios, print houses, and art departments.
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