Sublimation printing is actually a simple process requiring just three primary ingredients: sublimation ink, heat and pressure. Heat is the catalyst that converts the substance from solid to gas, and the process is controlled with pressure that is applied over time.
Sublimation inks are made up of solid colour dye particles that are crushed into a powder before being suspended in a liquid carrier. Although you can’t see the particles of dye, they are floating around in the ink. However, unlike sugar in coffee, the dye particles do not dissolve into the liquid. This solution is then used to print an image onto a specially treated piece of paper, and the paper is placed onto the material that is to be printed on.
The material is then placed into a heat press, and when the dye particles reach a certain temperature, they are transformed into gas and the image is transferred to the material. At the same time, the material – which must be created from polyester or a polyester-treated substrate – expands to absorb the gas. Special sublimation ink and paper and printers are required for the process.
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