Sublimation printing is a complex process; during the chemical process sublimation is the transition of the solid dye to a gas but it does not change into a liquid during the transition. The process is endothermic; the dye absorbs heat from the heat transfer machine, emits gas, and then dyes the polyester.
Intriguingly enough the most common issues seen with sublimation generally deal with color, printing, and computerization. Start-up issues can happen when a new user doesn’t understand the difference between factory print drive and the drivers for their specific ink system. Configuring those two things can be a challenge and many times during the setup a new user will power on the printer before reading the proper installation instructions. You should never turn on or connect the printer to your computer until prompted to do so because it can cause a communication failure between the machines.
Poor or washed out color is another complaint often heard about sublimation. Poor or washed out color can be caused by printing on the wrong side of the paper. The side intended for printing is bright white. The white material captures the sublimation ink to preserve the dot structure while in turn keeping the ink on the top of the sublimation paper. The ink is then absorbs the heat and outgasses which in turn dyes the substrate material. Once the color has been applied then you can start to figure out your color problems. Printing a primary color chart and checking the expiration date on your ink, verifying that you are using the right time, temperature, and pressure, as well as making sure you are printing with the right driver for the ink can help you determine any issues you may be having.
Banding can be defined as consistent, straight, horizontal, white lines that appear on print and run in the direction of the print head. Banding is commonly found among inkjet printers. Banding can be caused by clogged nozzles, therefore, you need to run a nozzle check which you can do from your printer drive or power drive and you should make sure to run the test on regular paper.
Another common issue is black turning out brown after application. This problem is generally found when applying a transfer to a ceramic but can still be found among apparel applications as well. Black may appear brown when the transfer was applied too long or at too high of a temperature. In order to fix this issue it is best to review application instructions and check your temperature and dwell time.
Sublimation has become a common practice among small and large decorators alike. There are large amounts of information regarding sublimation and sublimation packages you can purchase to help get you started. The main issue many decorators seem to have is the inability to follow instructions and seek help. Don’t forget the many tips I have provided you with as well as the fact that there are many facets of information pertaining to sublimation out there.