Digital/Custom fabric printing is a relatively new technology in textile printing industry. It’s growing and expending in every aspect in our life.
No matter it’s for family use or business, digital printing allows everyone to be able to be a designer and create unique fabrics.The advantages of digital printing commonly known are: without color limitations, allow small runs, fast turn around time and so on.
Sublimation printing is one of the digital printing methods.
Before getting a closer look, let’s check out the fabrics types first. Usually the we categorize fabrics into three types: disperse, reactive and acid according to the type and function of dye chemicals. For example, polyester belongs to disperse, cotton ,rayon and linen to reactive, wool and silk to acid. And for those blended fabrics, its category mostly depends on which material takes a bigger portion. As an instance, 70% cotton and 30% polyester fabric, it’s reactive.
So we can say: dye inks used in digital printing are formulated specifically for each type of fiber. And below is a chart for better understanding.
Sublimation printing is mostly applied with disperse inks, which means it’s largely used in polyester fabrics. And it has many names, you may know some of them already: Paper transfer and heat transfer. These names are referring to the same printing technique. As the names suggest, it needs both paper and heat.
The ink will firstly print on the paper and being transferred on to fabrics by heating. The temperature can reach around 190 degree Celsius depended on paper and substrates.. May be enough to kill a white walker.
Alright, let’s dive deeper. There is a reason that it called “Sublimation printing”. Sublimation refers to the process of changing from a solid to a gas without passing through an intermediate liquid phase.The ink on the paper will be gassed through heating and directly onto the fibers of the substrate. This is the sublimation process where the solid colorant is converted into a gas to penetrate into the fabric. For chemical reasons, polyester fabrics are best-suited to transfer dye-sub printing.
I have prepared some clips that filmed in our China factory hope you can get some ideas form it just in case the words are too complicated.
We got the first clip from the front. The printer is printing star pattern onto the paper.
We shot this clip from the back. After printing on transfer paper, it will be rolled onto a core and just keep on rolling.
The Last one is the most critical part of the printing. It transfers the pattern from paper to the fabric by heating. As you can see,paper in and printed fabrics out.
I can explain day and night if you would love to listen. We will continue to dive to see how the ink-jet printing works as one of the most versatile and exquisite custom printing method.
Whether you are small business owner, fabric retailer, wholesaler, garment manufacturer or designer, please be sure to connect with us as we together are more than printing custom fabrics.