What Materials Can I Sublimate On?

Sublimation is the gateway to customize versatile material with your choice of graphics and designs. While selecting the sublimation printers, the first query in your mind is what can I sublimate on. The answer is simple using the right printer with compatible materials like sublimation papers, inks and printer technology, and you can print any medium.

Sublimation is a printing technique in which a photo or design is printed onto paper and then transferred onto different surfaces. The printer uses heat or pressure on the paper with design in this process. This process is about binding all the ink on the paper over the targeted surface. Sublimation is widely used to customize T-shirts, mugs, phone cases, etc. Also, designs and logos of different companies are printed using Sublimation.

Many beginners learning Sublimation find it confusing to choose the surfaces on which Sublimation can be done. Sublimation involves heat that can damage many materials while Sublimation. We will discuss how you can sublimate your designs and the involved steps and types of printers that a person can use to avoid this confusion.

What Can I Sublimate On?

Sublimation can be done on different surfaces. You would need a good-quality heat press machine for the sublimation process. These surfaces include 

  • Ceramic mugs and tiles
  • Polyester bags, mats, aprons, etc.
  • Glass built materials
  • Aluminium built materials

Above mentioned materials are ready for sublimation materials. Being Sublimation ready means that these materials can be used in the sublimation process directly after you buy them. Before sublimating onto them, you do not need any special treatment for these materials.

Some natural fabrics, such as cotton, are not compatible with Sublimation. This incompatibility is that sublimation ink needs some polymer on the surface to stick onto. A polymer coating is done to sublimate onto cotton so that ink can form a bond with the surface and stick properly. Also, Sublimation onto dark surfaces is very difficult because you need darker ink to make the printed design visible.

Can You Use Sublimation Paper in any Printer?

Sublimation paper is a special paper on which the design is first printed, and then sublimation paper is used to print the design on the targeted surface. A person needs a sublimation printer to print on the sublimation paper, and a special printer is needed, called a sublimation printer. A sublimation printer uses special sublimation ink to print designs on the sublimation paper.

As far as the question “can a sublimation paper be used in any printer?” is considered, the answer is No because, as mentioned above, sublimation paper requires a special printer called a sublimation printer to be printed on. Moreover, special sublimation ink is used for printing on it. If a printer supports sublimation ink cartridges, you can use this printer in sublimation paper printing. Otherwise, a sublimation printer is required.

Whereas, if you plan to use transfer paper for heat pressing on your objects, any inkjet printer in your home would work. You can use a transfer paper in any home use printer without any modification to the printer.

How To Use Tracing Paper?

Tracing paper is commonly known as transfer paper or sublimation paper. It is commonly used paper with an additional layer to hold sublimation inks better. When printing a design on a shirt or any surface, a person needs to print the design on a special sublimation paper or transfer paper. After that, the paper transfers the design onto the targeted surface.

As tracing paper plays an important role in printing, its use is very important. Most beginners find it pretty difficult to understand the use of sublimation paper. If you are among those beginners, no need to worry because we bring you a step-wise tutorial on using tracing paper.

  • Choose the design you want to print:

The first step in printing a design on your target surface (shirt, mug, phone case, etc.) is choosing the design or picture you want to print on your targeted surface. Here, please keep in mind if your targeted surface is darker than the design you want to print because, in that case, printing results will not be great.

  • Print the design on the tracing paper:

After selecting your design, you need to print your design on tracing paper. Two types of tracing papers are used, i.e., sublimation and transfer papers. Sublimation paper requires sublimation printers to be printed upon, whereas a transfer paper can be printed using any inkjet printer.

  • Transfer the design from tracing paper to target surface:

After you print your design or picture on paper, you can print that design on your shirt or required surface. Firstly, make sure you have sublimation-ready objects. Suppose your targeted surface is not ready for Sublimation. In that case, you need to first add a polymer coating according to requirements onto the targeted surface to have durable and better printing results.

To transfer the design onto your required product, you need to place the printed side of the paper on the object’s surface. Now, put your object in the pressing machine, which will imprint the design onto your object. It would be best to keep in mind the standard temperature and pressure for each object and set the pressing machine accordingly.

  • Post printing instructions:

After you are done with your printing, there are some instructions to follow to imprint your targeted surface with better results. There are some cleaning instructions for the printed area, including protecting printed areas from intense heat and protecting the printed area from pointed surfaces as they might scratch off the imprinted design. Make sure you follow these instructions for better durability.

Wrapping Up!

Sublimation is a modern printing technique widely used worldwide for printing on fabrics and mugs, etc. While a beginner tries to use a sublimation printer, a question arises if the surface he wants to print on is compatible with sublimation printing. This article discussed the answer to the most commonly asked question, “What can I sublimate on?”. For more information regarding sublimation printing techniques and equipment, visit our website.