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Sublimation: Everything That You Need to Know About This Cool Trend

  • Oasis Sublimation
  • January 29, 2024

No matter where you go, sublimated apparel is so much in demand these days. The advanced printing technique, i.e., sublimation printing, is a digital printing procedure that makes use of pressure and heat to transfer dye onto different fabrics. It is also referred to as the dye sublimation printing method.

Not only clothing, but fashion-forward individuals are reaching out for sublimated accessories and footwear as well! Such is the craze!

Do you want to know about this cool trend in detail? You have arrived at the right place! This blog will answer all the possible questions about it! Keep reading!

Origin of Sublimation Printing

Unlike what many think, sublimation printing is not really “new” to the scene. The origins go back to the 1950s in France and a French researcher called Noel De Plasse. The bright researcher concluded that dyes do sublimate, and he could manipulate it for printing while serving a textile company known as Lainiere De Roubaix. To commercialize the unique technique, De Plasse continued to develop the procedure and ultimately founded a new company called Sublistatis SA.

sublimation cloth printing
The origin of this printing technique in the US was in the 1970s at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA. A team of professionals here, led by Wes Hoekstra, invented the first printer that could manage the complicated dye sublimation printing procedure. Because of his crucial contributions to the field, Hoekstra is often known as the ‘Father‘ of the computer image sublimation procedure.

Interesting Facts About Sublimation

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  1. It is Better for the Planet: Not only does dye sublimation lead to premium-quality clothing but it is great for the environment as well. Other printing techniques involve a liquid stage that needs a good amount of water while dye sublimation needs just a small amount. In addition to this, sublimation printing uses very little ink and leads to very little waste in comparison to other printing techniques.
  2. The Actual Term is Dye-diffusion: Did you know that the actual term is dye-diffusion and not dye sublimation? The word ‘sublimation‘ is used because of the early understanding of the chemical procedure.
  3. It Allows Complete Customization: While other printing methods do not allow complete freedom of customization, sublimation does. It opens a whole world of design possibilities.

A Brief Explanation of the Process

The dye sublimation procedure is time-tested. Initially developed in the 1950s, this cool printing procedure makes use of high heat generally around 375°F or 180°C to 120°C to change the water-suspended ink dye to gas. Next, this super-heated, vibrantly-colored gas permeates the fibers of the material that is being printed on, and once the gas solidifies, the exceptionally bright color is permanent. The print is now the very part of the clothing item and does not just sit on top of it.

Why Sublimation is So Popular

These prime reasons are behind its crazy popularity:

  1. This printing method uses vivid colors which makes the designs on clothes even more beautiful. Vivid colors blend bright and bold shades, thus making a print on a clothing piece livelier.
  2. The clothing items that are sublimated are pretty long-lasting and durable. As the ink penetrates deep into the fabric, it leads to sturdy apparel.
  3. The lightweight material doesn’t let the ink drip inside, which is why it offers the best results when printed.
  4. The prints on the sublimated apparel never fade or crack, even after multiple washes.
  5. It’s a fast-printing technique that uses vivid colors and top-quality materials in the printing procedure which aren’t usually used in other printing methods.

Fabrics That Are Great for Sublimation

Polyester, cotton, and synthetic fibers are the three best fabrics for sublimation.

What Makes Polyester the Top Choice?

Mainly because the polymers present in this kind of material can easily open up when exposed to heat, polyester is highly used for creating sublimated apparel. Also, polyester remains largely free of wrinkles even when worn again and again. Sublimated polyester clothing is preferred for sports. Have you ever checked out the tennis stars playing in cool sublimated tees and jerseys? They look even cooler.

fabrics for sublimation clothing

Cotton Can Be Sublimated!

It is not possible to sublimate on 100% cotton as the dye bonding with the material happens on the surface rather than in the material itself because of a lack of harmony between the dye and the cellulose. However, there are other ways to sublimate cotton. What needs to be ensured is there should be some form of link between the cotton surface and the dye.

Synthetic Fibers Work Well

Synthetic fibers like acrylic, spandex, rayon, and nylon are some of the top materials for dye sublimation. When you wear sublimated clothing pieces crafted out of any of these materials, you realize what strength and durability truly mean.

Sublimation Printed Apparel V/s Screen Printed Apparel

difference of sublimation print and screen print

Do you often wonder, “Is sublimation-printed clothing better or screen-printed clothing?’’ Take a look at the points given below:

  1. When you buy screen-printed apparel, cracks appear in the designs over time and parts start to fall off. However, you would not be facing such an issue in the case of sublimated apparel as the prints or designs last for a long time.
  2. Sublimation printing offers high-quality apparel with unusual, magnificent designs, while the designs in screen-printed apparel are not that great and lively.
  3. With sublimation printing, striking, quality apparel can be generated faster, which is not possible in the case of screen printing.
  4. Sublimation printing gets rid of most of the drawbacks of traditional screen printing. While screen printing can never give you sharp images, with sublimation printing, you can get clean, crisp designs.

How Sublimation is Ruling the Fashion, Fitness, and Sports World

Fashion lovers always want garments that can help to showcase their sense of style and unique personality, and what can be better than sublimated apparel? Coming with mind-boggling designs and vivid colors, it fulfills the wish of the style-conscious people well. With zero limitations on design possibilities, extraordinary sublimated clothing products are getting launched and people are buying in huge numbers. Not only the fashion industry but fitness and sports clothing industries have also taken immense liking to this amazing printing technique. The fact that it offers never-ending chances for customization is something one can never ignore.

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Modern men and women into workout are opting for sublimated leggings, tops, jackets, and sports bras. The key reason? Sublimated fitness wear is super stylish and built to last.

These days, sportsmen not only need to perform their best but look great for the cameras too, which puts an extra burden on their shoulders. Sublimated apparel has come off as a boon to them. The bright colors as well as exceptional prints make them look great in sportswear without even trying.

In addition, sublimated sports clothing can be personalized with the name and number of the players, the name of the team, and other such details, thus adding to the list of benefits.

Is Sublimated Apparel Sustainable?

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Though it is discussed in the beginning, let’s have a look at the subject in a bit more detail.

As the whole world slowly starts supporting sustainability, if you are thinking about how sustainable sublimated apparel is, you will be surprised to know that one of the prime advantages of sublimation printing is its safety level for both the worker and the environment. In fact, it is the most earth-friendly technique of clothes printing and production. The dyes are 100% safe and not harmful in any way. Usually, sublimation clothing manufacturers opt for CYMK, so the sublimation printing procedure only uses a small amount of sublimation inks. These inks are eco-friendly, water-based inks. They are less harmful to the planet than solvent-based inks. Also, sublimation printing leads to zero waste.

So, garments that are produced using sublimation printing are not only eye-appealing but good for the environment as well.

The Sublimated Clothing Pieces That Are Creating a Buzz Everywhere

Sublimated Tees

Sublimated tees display vibrant colors and visually enticing prints that are a favorite among Gen Z, a generation that is heavily influenced by social media. Teenagers today love sporting things that interest them or dressing up as personalities and characters that they idolize. Sublimated tees help them to show off their sense of fashion and stand apart in the crowd. Also, 3D sublimated tees are making a huge impact in the athleisure area. As they offer an unusual appeal to the attire with the help of 3D imagery of unique motifs, they are often chosen by fitness enthusiasts.

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Sublimated Sports Bras

To make chic, colorful, eye-popping ensembles for the gym, you can use the sublimated sports bras. The racerback sports bras, plaid hooded sports bras, and strappy flashy sports bras are a favorite of fashion-forward women. Go for such color schemes that are in tune with your other clothing items.

Sublimated Leggings

One of the most stylish clothing pieces that women love to include in their everyday wear as well as fitness routine is the sublimated leggings. You can find a wide variety in eye-popping designs. The gothic floral leggings and tribal leggings are trending nowadays.

Trending Sublimated Shirt Designs

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A Splash of Rainbow Colors

A sublimated shirt demonstrating an abstract print in rainbow colors not only looks beautiful but uplifts the mood of the wearer. It flaunts one’s cheerful, happy personality as well.

A Blend of Contrasting Colors in Florals

Sublimated tees displaying a blend of big blooms and mini cluster flowers in an eye-catching color combination of blood-red and cyan show how distinct and quirky creative minds can be.

A Sky full of Stars

There is probably no one on this planet who would not love sublimated shirts showing a sky full of stars. Sublimation makes the starry sky livelier.

Cleaning Sublimated Shirts is Super Easy

sublimated apparel cleaning guides

If you want your fun sublimated shirts to stay with you for a long time, you need to clean them properly. Do not worry, it is easy. Just remember the following tips:

  1. Turn the shirts inside out before cleaning them.
  2. Wash them with cold water when using the washing machine.
  3. Use a non-phosphorous detergent to clean them.
  4. Remove the sublimated shirts immediately once you are done washing.
  5. It is recommended to air-dry them. However, if you are in a hurry, you can use the dryer on a low setting.

To avoid damaging the shirts, stay away from chlorine bleach and heat application in any form (i.e. no hot water or drying at a high temperature). Additionally, do not wash your sublimated shirts with other garments, especially clothing items with Velcro, buttons, and zippers.

The Future of Sublimation

Sublimation printing has revolutionized the fashion, fitness, and sports world with its cool prints and vibrant colors but what does the future hold? Let’s have a look at the trends and innovations:

In terms of fabrics, cotton, polyester, and synthetic fibers are dominating the current scene but soon there will be a wide variety of choices. Research is going on to develop new treatments and coatings for those materials on which sublimation is otherwise not possible.

Since color technology is also evolving, you can expect a future with even brighter color options. The resolution of prints will improve, thus offering even more detailed and sharper images.

Thanks to advancements in technology and ink formulations, the printing quality and speed are also expected to improve. For business owners, this will mean faster turnaround times for their projects.

With all the essential points covered about this unique trend, now you know about sublimation clothing a bit better than before!

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