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How Does Sublimation Printing Work?

Sublimation printing is heavily used in many fields; one of the most popular ones is in shirt printing shops, where they depend on printing a specific or custom-made design onto a shirt.

So how does the process of sublimation work? What are the fabrics best suited for sublimation printing? Today, we’ll answer these two questions alongside other ones. At the end of this article, you’ll know everything there’s to know about sublimation and all its nooks and crannies.

How Does it Work?

To put it simply, during a sublimation printing process, immense heat and pressure -roughly between 350 to 400 degrees- are utilized to transfer designs onto fabric. It works by changing the ink’s solid particles into a gaseous state, making it easier to adhere to a fabric or other material.

So the process of sublimation printing involves two different machines; a sublimation printer, and a heat press. You begin by choosing the design that you want, and print it on special paper using the sublimation printer. Then, if you’re doing this at home or in your t-shirt printing shop, you’ll probably be using a heat press that will print the design onto the fabric.

Check out this video to learn how to print your own sublimation printing products.

What are the Materials That Best Suit Sublimation Printing

Many materials are suited to be used with sublimation printed designs; any material or fabric has to have high height resistance and the ability to withstand pressure. That’s why some materials are better than others, and these are the best ones:

  • Polyester
  • Ceramic
  • Polymer
  • PVPolycotton Textile

These are some of the best materials and fabrics that you can use in sublimation printing, especially polyester, and ceramic. But, bear in mind that you might be limited to only one logo per garment when printing onto fabrics.

You need to steer away from fabrics like natural ones and 100% cotton ones. That’s because they don’t contain any pores for the ink to be absorbed into.


Not all designs work well with sublimation printing; designs with block colors -colors that must be placed all over the garment- have a high chance of ghosting. What is ghosting you ask? it’s color mismatching.


  • Complete design freedom
  • Designs last on fabrics and materials
  • Perfect for small orders
  • Easy to do


  • Not suitable with natural fabrics
  • Generates a lot of heat
  • Creasing


We’ll now show you some of the hacks you can use to enhance your sublimation printing process further and make it even better.

Coat the Substrate with Polyester Coating

You can use polyester coating to coat your substrate, which will make your print more vivid and vibrant.

Use Heat-Resistant Tape for Hard Substrates

Only use heat-resistant tape on the fabric or material’s edge. Also make sure that you steer away from the image and ensure that it doesn’t touch the design as it might damage it.

Use Copy or Matte Paper Instead of Sublimation Paper

We all know how expensive sublimation paper can be, and you might run out of it. Your best bet would be to use copy or matte paper as they deliver almost the same results.

Let’s say, for instance, that you want to print a design onto a mug using copy paper. You’ll do the same process that you do with sublimation paper.

Washed-out Designs

A washed-out design is one of the worst things that can happen when doing a sublimation-print. The design’s colors will appear faded out and will seem old, worn, and torn, so you have to avoid them at all costs.

Luckily for you, they’re easily avoidable. You’ve to give the heat press all the time it needs to apply both the pressure and the heat that the sublimation paper needs. As if inadequate amounts of heat are supplied, the design won’t adhere to the fabric or the material properly.

If all else fails, and you still feel that your print is still washed-out, then your best bet would be to increase the pressure or, in case of mugs, ensure that the paper is tightly wrapped around it.

Final Thoughts

We hope that our article has given you a better insight into sublimation printing and how it works. It’s a straightforward and easy process, but it has a lot of details and intricacies that might pass you by.