Dye Sub FAQ

What is Dye Sub Printing?
Dye-sublimation is a technology that bonds full-color artwork with polyester and polymer-coated substrates like aluminum, wood, glass, tile, fabric and much more. In sublimation printing, dyes are transferred to sheets of “transfer” paper via liquid gel ink through a specialized printer. After the digital design is printed onto sublimation transfer sheets, it is placed on a heat press along with the substrate to be sublimated using heat, pressure and time. The end result of the sublimation process is a nearly permanent, high resolution, full-color print. Because the dyes are infused into the substrate at the molecular level, rather than applied at a topical level like traditional printing methods, the prints will not crack, fade or peel from the substrate under normal conditions.
 
What are the benefits of Dye Sublimation prints?
In general, you will get a sharpness and color depth with sublimation that is not commonly found on other substrates. The prints are also more durable, weather/water resistant, and offer many different and unique hanging and display options. The prints are chemical resistant too and can really only be damaged by extreme heat (350+ degrees) and physical damage such as scratching, bending, or breaking. There are U/V resistant substrates available for outdoor use, otherwise, direct sunlight will eventually fade the image (but at a much slower rate than other substrates).
 
What sizes can you print with Dye Sublimation?
We can print up to 40" x 60" on our in-house equipment. Most items are limited by available material sizes, but our standard items like aluminum, wood, and fabric are available up to 40" x 60".
 
Can you make custom sublimatable products?
Yes, we have the ability to spray a special polymer coating onto just about any smooth, flat surface. As long as the material can handle the 400-degree heat press, we can transfer an image into it. We can also order many items not listed on our website, so call us to discuss your needs.
 
How do I choose images which will work well for Dye Sublimation Printing?
We use a phrase here; "the artwork tells us how it wants to be printed". It is a combination of things that tell us what the best substrate will be. The general reasons for choosing dye sublimation are the sharpness, luster, and color depth of the resulting product. A soft focus black and white photo will not benefit from these strengths, so it may be better suited for canvas or paper. Darker images with deep colors tend to work better, and high detail shots really pop due to the sharpness of dye-sublimation. In reality, most images look great on any dye-sub substrate but choosing images that play into its strengths are preferable. The only images that seem to lose something are very washed out, lighter images devoid of sharp details or strong, deep colors.
 
Can you print on materials that I provide?
In most cases it is hazardous to our equipment, so we rarely allow this. We only use the highest quality substrates available, mostly because this is what our customers expect from us. In addition, substrates not specifically developed for dye-sublimation printing can damage our very expensive equipment, therefore we do not allow outside materials into our heat presses. While some "off-the-shelf" materials may provide satisfactory results, we find that items made specifically for dye sublimation provide better image quality and longevity, without risking our equipment.
 
How can I sign and number my metal or glass prints?
Many opaque permanent markers will work well on a sublimated product. We find the metallic permanent markers in silver and gold to be a good fit for darker prints, while regular fine-tipped permanent markers will work well on lighter backgrounds. They take a little longer to dry on sublimated products so it is best to sign and let it sit for a few hours before handling or packing it. We can also add your signature to the digital file so that it sublimates directly onto the substrate along with the image itself.