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What is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Print Impact asks - What is Dye Sublimation Printing
  1. The Short Answer
  2. Terms
  3. The Long Answer
  4. The Result / Advantages
  5. Dye Sub Products (Materials and Products we can offer)
  6. Buy Branded Flags and Banners

1] The Short Answer

Using a combination of heat, pressure and time, inks are dyed into a substrate material on the molecular level.

2] Terminology

  • 2.1) Dyed: Infusing colour into a material permanently.
  • 2.2) Sublimation: The process from a solid to a gaseous state. This bypasses the liquid state.
  • 2.3) Dye Sublimation: Solid dye particles are transformed into a gas using heat and pressure, which allows any polymers to change back into a solid. The ink is thus infused into the fibres of the substrate.
  • 2.4) Polymer: From the Greek (poly – many + mer – part.) A large molecule (or macromolecule) that in this case softens under heat and when it hardens it transferred into the substrate.
  • 2.5) Substrate: Man-made materials/polymers that we use to dye sublimate can be hard or soft. Examples would be Polyester, PVC, Polyester-coated sheets, and Polycotton textiles.
  • 2.6) Digital Printing: Printing from a digital image directly onto a variety of media. Usually high volume or large format printing of on-demand print jobs done in a short turnaround time.

3] The Long Answer


Dye-sublimation works by penetrating the surface of the substrate with sublimation inks. Man-made materials such as nylon, certain plastics, and polyester fabrics contain polymers that when heated, enable the bonding of ink.
If you looked inside a dye-sublimation printer, you would see a long roll of transparent film that resembles sheets of red, blue, yellow, and gray colored cellophane stuck together end to end. Embedded in this film are solid dyes corresponding to the four basic colors used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
The print head heats up as it passes over the film, causing the dyes to vaporize and permeate the glossy surface of the paper before they return to solid form.

Dye Sublimation Explained - Illustration of How Fabric is Dye Sublimated


Once the printing is done, heat and pressure is applied. A heat press transfers the ink directly onto the surface. The ink on the transfer paper and the fibers within the substrate (material being sublimated) are simultaneously transferring the ink to the material / substrate.
During the heat press stage the pores of these polymers open to allow sublimation ink (now in a gaseous state) to enter.
After the heat is removed and the transfer paper is peeled off, what is left is a permanent, full-color graphic on the substrate.

4] The Result / Advantages


Dye-sublimation printers allow you to print photo-lab-quality pictures.
In dye-sublimation printing, colors are not laid down as individual dots, as is done in inkjet printers. Individual dots can be distinguished at a relatively close distance, making digital pictures look less realistic.
Dye-sublimation printing is a digital printing technology using full color artwork that works with polyester and polymer-coated substrates.


Digital Printing allows for cost-effective customization of small to very large banners at high quality.


SOFT SIGNAGE: Dye-sublimation printing yields beautiful and permanent colors that are embedded in the substrate or fabric, rather than printed on the surface. Images on fabric won’t fade or crack even after multiple washings. Because the ink is COMBINED into the molecules of the fabric (not printed on the surface) – Dye Sublimation printed fabrics are supremely washable and rub fast.


Images that have been dye sublimated onto hard substrates will not chip, peel or scratch.

Dye Sublimation Printing is near photo quality - versus Screen Printing with halftone dots

5] Our Dye Sub Products


(Branded Products)
Custom or branded graphics onto promotional products such as Gazebos, Banners and Flags, Parasols.
(Walls and Backdrops)
Photography backdrops such as Banner Walls / Backdrops, can be sublimated in realistic, high quality.


(Bulk Printing)
Large quantity & roll-to-roll transfers for Building signage such as Building Wraps


Click on this link to view all of our Dye Sublimated Products

What is Dye Sublimation Printing?
Article Name
What is Dye Sublimation Printing?
Dye-sublimation printers allow you to print photo-lab-quality pictures. Digital Printing allows for cost-effective customization of small to very large banners at high quality. Print Impact prints onto quality and affordable fabric to create branded promotional products.