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Dye Sublimation Polyester Fabrics


what is sublimation printing

The process of printing and customizing various products is a long standing business. While there are many different methods for printing onto something, one of the best methods is that of sublimation. This digital printing approach requires some knowledge on sublimation process itself which is what a substance goes through when it is transformed from a solid to a gas, bypassing a liquid state altogether.

However, what is sublimation printing exactly, and how will it benefit your next project? At Canwil Textiles, we’ve laid out the framework on the ins and outs of sublimation printing and how it will work for you.

What is Sublimation Printing?

The process of the sublimation printing system is quite simple. It involves a step by step process using sublimation ink, heat and pressure. These digital printing solutions first use sublimation ink with a sublimation printer. The sublimation ink uses polyester ribbon for a full color technique that extends the length and width of the print itself.

This ribbon lays down each color onto the transfer paper. Once fully printed onto the sublimation printers, it’s placed onto the substrate, or the specially coated item. These items can be anything from 100 polyester fabric, to sublimation papers for prints, or special ceramic mugs and such.

The transfer paper’s placement onto the item relies on the help of heat presses. Through this process, the sublimation ink reacts with the substrate by conforming from a liquid to gas, allowing for the substrate to adhere to the ink. Once done, you have your finished product!

Dye Sublimation Printing on Fabric

As stated, sublimation printing lends itself onto different mediums. One of these mediums is fabric. Textile printing isn’t uncommon and seen everywhere. From banners to t-shirts, graphic printing onto fabric is possible with sublimation printing.


Heavy White. 63″ and 126″ Wide, Inherently Flame Retardant, wrinkle resistant, passes NFPA 701.

One of the more used fabrics for sublimation printing is heavy knit polyester. This polyester is ready for the heat transfer process and works in different ways, like when placed direct to garment. It also comes in a flame retardant variety that is upheld by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and their 701 standard for flame retardant fabrics. 

triple white

Triple White. 120″ Wide, Inherently Flame Retardant, wrinkle resistant, passes NFPA 701.

At Canwil Textiles, we offer a great selection of digital textile ready polyester in varying forms. Also used commonly is the Triple White polyester fabric. This wrinkle resistant fabric is also inherently flame retardant, which means it naturally repels flames without going through a chemical process. It is ideal for banners and large statement prints.

Ultra White

Ultra White. 120″ Wide, Inherently Flame Retardant, wrinkle resistant, passes NFPA 701.

Ultra White Blackout polyester is a well woven textile that is triple layered for optimal blackout options. This fabric is UV resistant, so it’s use extends outdoors. Like the triple white polyester, this fabric is also inherently flame retardant (IFR).

Sublimation Printing vs. Traditional Screen Printing

Many typically know the process of traditional screen printing. Sublimation printing is a digital process, versus traditional screen printing which doesn’t require higher forms of technology. However, what are the true differences between the two?

Traditional Screen Printing Process:  In a nutshell, screen printing requires a few things: the substrate (the item on which your printing will adhere to), ink, a squeegee, and a fine mesh screen.  Either performed manually or with a machine, screen printing comes to life. Each separated color lands onto the substrate and pushes through the screen with the squeegee. Once each color goes onto the substrate, it’s then dried to cure the ink.

Sublimation Printing Process: Sublimation printing as we know from above uses a special printer and sublimation ink to place each color onto the substrate, and then uses a heat press to adhere the ink.

Through each process, the ending is the same. You’re left with your ideal product that has been customized with the imagery of your choice!

Know the Difference

Looking at the alternatives to sublimation printing helps answer the question: what is sublimation printing?

However, there are differences between each:

Screen printing doesn’t limit itself to its material. Sublimation printing works on synthetic materials like polyester, but screen printing allows for printing onto synthetic and natural materials alike, like cotton.

Sublimation printing doesn’t do well with darker substrates. It’s printing works best with lighter colors, but screen printing works on any sort of color spectrum.

Sublimation printing is cost effective at variable order sizes, but screen printing obtains a better cost only when providing a higher volume order.

All in all, sublimation printing will be more cost effective over screen printing, and provides a new, digital approach.

When to Use Sublimation Printing

Now that you know the ins and outs of sublimation printing, some great uses for it are:

  • Promotional Items for Your Business
  • T-Shirt or Garment Making
  • Banners
  • Mugs
  • Stickers

And more! At Canwil Textiles, we provide excellent solutions for all of your sublimation printing needs. Call 678.985.5434 x 201 and our experts will help you.