With the Dye Sublimation Transfer Process, you can print high quality digital images on a huge variety of items made of any material that is treated or coated or made of polyester. The imprinting is accomplished using a printer, special transfer inks and paper and a heat press.
What is Sublimation?
Dye Sublimation Transfer is a process where you take an image - that has been created digitally (either by scanning, downloaded from a digital camera or created on your computer) and then print this image with a printer using special sublimation transfer inks onto transfer paper. Once the image is on the paper you place it under a heat press on top of your polyester fabric or poly coated item (hard substrate) and heat until the inks turn to a gas and permeates the coating, thereby transfering the image onto the item. For over 15 years LRI has been applying our King Coat polymer coatings at our Midwest facility for the sublimation industry.
Because of the type of piezo print head ink that is used you are limited in the type and model of printer you can print with. Currently you can purchase sublimation inks for specific desktop printers by Ricoh® and Epson®. There are a host of companies that offer sublimation solutions for wide-format printers by Epson® and Mutoh® and Mimaki®.
The ink used in the Sublimation Transfer process is typically a special mixture of water, glycol and heat reactive dyes. The consistency and stability of these inks have come a long way over the last 15 years with the development of nanoparticle technology.
Sawgrass Technologies® Sublimation Inks are the most popular on the market. When printing through a wide format printer i.e. Epson, Mutoh or Mimaki models, several ink manufacturers and suppliers have become available for you to buy from.
What paper can I use?
There are two basic types of sublimation papers: resin coated papers and clay coated. Resin coated papers have the ability to release more of the ink from the paper surface, and have a built in characteristic tack when heated which makes them most suitable for textile transferring to textiles. They can present more difficulty transferring to hard surfaces as mottling can occur (loss of detail in the image). Much more care should be taken with the resin paper as it takes longer to dry, and is easier to smear when handling. Some popular brands of this paper are Jetcol and Beaver Papers.
Clay coated papers are a more universally used paper since they dry faster and are generally lower in cost. Clay coated papers don’t smear as easily, and can transfer very well to both textiles and hard goods such as ceramics, plastics, jewelry, metal and porcelain
What type of Heat Transfer Press do I need?
A heat press is the machine that presses a transfer onto an imprintable substrate. Using high temperatures and specified pressures for a certain amount of time, the transfer is permanently embedded into the product. Heat presses are available with various sized platens, with clamshell or swing away heating elements, and with manual or automatic release features. Some heat presses are created just for specific uses, like the cap or mug presses. The maximum print size of your printer should match the platen size of your press.
Sublimation transfers require anywhere from 375° to 425° F and demand serious force in pressing often from 40-90 psi.
LRI recommends George Knight® Heat Presses because they are simply the best. George Knight Heat Presses are a reliable workhorse of a product that stands up to the demands of any imprinting business.
What and why should I consider Mug Wraps?
Mug wraps are an ideal device used for decorating mugs, and odd shaped beverage containers. LRI has a patented Ultra-Wrap™ design that is a low cost alternative to decorating Tapered shot glasses and tapered mugs, stainless steel flasks, ceramic cookie jars, to name a few. Items can be decorated faster, cheaper, more image area, and higher quality than the traditional alternative mug presses on the market. We offer custom 3-D coating service and custom made Ultra-Wraps™ to fit your individual needs!
What types of products can I decorate?
LRI carries a wide variety of sublimatible products. All our exciting items can be produced with any sublimation printing system and sublimation ink. No need for special profiles. And we can custom make a profile just for you if the need arises. As a pioneer to the sublimation industry, we have developed numerous product firsts to the market, and continue to do so. If you don’t see it, ask, we can custom order materials, custom cut their shapes, and custom coat your products exclusively for you!
Why Shop LRI?
LRI stocks many unique and high profit margin products to help you grow your business! New products, low pricing, high quality, full support and our durable King Coat Made and coated in the USA to help grow our country’s GDP. We always have specials, and new product developments to bring to you for that competitive edge you need to succeed.
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