Updated: Jan 7
By Alex Berryman
Dye sublimation is an amazing printing technique that enables vibrant patterns and prints through innovative production methods. In this blog, we will explore how sublimation printing has leveled up apparel production, but first, we will explain how it works.
Dye sublimation is a form of digital printing in which designs or patterns are printed onto large pieces of paper. The paper is then paired with polyester fabric and fed through a heat press machine. The heat vaporizes the dye on the paper (going directly from a solid-state to gas, which is a process known as sublimation). The dye then transfers to the polyester fabric, chemically bonds to the fibers. The resulting fabric will mirror the print exactly as it was printed on the paper.
Benefits of Dye Sublimation
First and foremost, dye sublimation creates a quality print. The chemical bond of the dye creates a vibrant print with incredible colorfastness that will not crack, flake, or fade. Additionally, the dye bonds to the fabric rather than resting on top like in screen printing. This ensures the material is breathable and maintains a soft hand feel. When paired with quick-drying athletic material, it is a perfect choice for sportswear.
The second benefit of sublimation printing is the potential for customization without having to meet dying MOQs or wait for long lead times from fabric mills. Smaller MOQs and faster lead-times can reduce logistic costs, cash-flow constraints for stock, and more!
Finally, sublimation has incredible sustainability benefits. Since the dye is transferred by heat, not water, there is less instance of water contamination and eliminates water wastage. Additionally, since brands can order the colors they need, they no longer waste excess fabrics that may have been ordered to meet material supplier MOQs. Just make sure you are choosing recycled polyester fabrics and ink without Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) or heavy metals, and that you are recycling your sublimation paper.
If you want to read more about each of these benefits, check out our blog on 3 game changers of sublimation printing.
Production Methods Facilitated by Dye Sublimation Printing
At Purnaa, we look for ways to serve our customers in innovative ways. We have seen two distinct production methods that would help our customers limit stock risk, decrease lead times, and offer an attractive product to their customers.
Vogue Business touts the pre-order system of fulfillment as a great way for a business to stay agile while limiting risk. Instead of estimating quantities and volumes for your new styles next season, allow your customers to pre-order your goods and have them printed to order. This method allows you to produce the exact amount that you sell, not taking on unnecessary stock, reducing waste from production, and reducing the need for investment.
Differentiate yourself from your competitors by offering exact print and color customization as a part of your sales offering. Sublimation prints allow for exact placements of logos and accurate color matching to specific Pantone colors. You can sample specific products with your manufacturer, customize the product to your customer, and submit the design to be printed.
Made to Order
While the pre-order model focuses on booking orders for new styles for a season, if you have a standardized product that uses the same pattern over time, such as a sports uniform, you can enable customers to place small orders and quickly print, cut, sew, and ship in small quantities. This is perfect for orders for event merchandise and sports teams or school uniforms.
To learn more about how sublimation can level up your production and product, submit your design idea, and ask our in-house experts how dye sublimation can be used for your business.