Choosing the Right Dye-Sublimation Printing Process for Your Job

November 7, 2019

Coming up with a great visual design is only part of the equation when it comes to large-format graphic printing. How the printing happens and what it is printed on plays a significant role in determining the quality of a large-scale print job. It’s important for customers to understand the different print processes and substrates in order to select the ideal combination for their job.

Dye-Sublimation Explained

One of the most common large-scale fabric printing methods is dye-sublimation. Essentially, it’s the process of heating a liquid ink so that it becomes a gas and is infused into the fabric of the substrate. Dye-sublimation is popular because it creates vivid colors and will not crack or flake when a material is stretched or twisted. It’s also easier to wash without the risk of the dye running or fading.

There are two methods through which dye can be sublimated into a substrate. With a Dye Sub Transfer, the ink is placed onto transfer paper and sublimated onto the fabric through a heat press. A Direct Dye Dispersal doesn’t require transfer paper; the ink is heated and sublimates directly into the fibers of the fabric.

The Advantages of Dye Sub Transfers and Direct Dye Dispersal

While the two processes employ the same basic concept – infusing dye into a fabric through the use of heat – the results can have both subtle and distinct differences. With a Dye Sub Transfer, the dye is only sublimated into the surface level of the fabric, while a Direct Dye Dispersal goes deeper into the fabric. This difference means that Dye Sub Transfers often have a more vibrant and crisper look than the more muted Direct Dye Dispersals. Dye Sub Transfers can also be printed on almost any polyester fabric or polymer-coated material, making it a viable alternative on a wide range of items.

There are advantages to Direct Dye Dispersal printing, with cost being a major factor. Direct Dye Dispersal is typically less expensive than Dye Sub Transfers because there is no need for transfer paper. Printing directly onto the fabric is also a popular choice for flags and banners. Since the dye is sublimated deep into the fabric it creates a front-to-back bleed that allows the dye to be seen on both sides of an item.

When determining which type of dye sublimation process is right for your printed piece, you’ll want to consider how it is going to be used. Typically, the lack of UV protection provided by Dye Sub Transfer means that it’s an indoor-only choice, while Direct Dye Dispersal offers a higher level of protection and makes a better outdoor option. Another consideration is the specific substrate being used, as some fabrics are more receptive to the Dye Sub Transfer method.

With nearly 50 years of graphic printing experience, AAA Flag & Banner is ready to help guide you through the many different permutations of printing processes and substrates to find the best choice for your unique print job. Contact us today to discuss your graphic needs and how we can make sure you make the right choice when it comes to your materials.