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How to print t-shirts with a sublimation printer

Sublimation Printer T-Sirts Posted On
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Dye sublimation is a fantastic personalization technique, as it allows you to produce personalized gifts with the highest quality image and a fantastic finish for a minimal investment. A4 dye sublimation printer in Pakistan allow you to produce a wide range of personalized products for your business, as we explained in a previous article.

It is clear that you can print t-shirts with your sublimation printer but they have to be made of polyester and white or light in color . And what happens when you want to print a cotton or dark colored T-shirt? In this post I am going to propose several solutions for printing dark cotton t-shirts with your sublimation equipment.

Sublimation takes place in 2 steps :

  1. First of all you have to print your design on sublimation paper using your sublimation printer equipped with sublimation inks and
  2. secondly, you have to apply heat and pressure with a transfer iron to transfer the design from the paper to the shirt or sublimable object.

In the second stage, sublimation itself takes place – a chemical process in which the ink applied to the printed paper is converted into a gas and, under the influence of heat and pressure, penetrates the polyester fiber. Therefore, in order for the fabric to be dyed, it must have a polyester content of at least 67%. The higher the polyester content, the better the printing results and durability.

Another important detail that you should take into account is that in sublimation printer in Pakistan the color of the printed design is added to the background color of the fabric. So a white fabric is the ideal support to sublimate. We can also use light or pastel colors, knowing that the final result will be slightly affected by the background color.

After this explanation, it is clear that the ideal shirt to print by sublimation is the technical shirt (100% polyester) in white , but you can also print cotton-touch sublimation shirts in white or pastel colors.

Sublimable T-shirts

However, the deeper we get into the custom t-shirt business, the more likely we will have a need to print cotton t-shirts and dark-colored t-shirts . We can do it, understanding that these solutions that we are going to propose are not comparable to the quality of sublimation on white polyester. They are the best solutions for printing dark shirts without having to invest in new equipment.

Cotton solutions of sublimation printer in Pakistan

Within the sublimation section of our online store, you will find a subsection called “Solutions for cotton” that groups 4 possible solutions :.

  1. Sublimable Paper Subli-Flex 202 : for black cotton t-shirts . Print this paper on your sublimation printer and then iron it onto the shirt. The Subli-Flex print has a texture similar to printed vinyl so it is advisable to cut out the design before ironing it to the garment. By including registration marks before you go to print, you can easily cut your design on a very simple cutting plotter. The resistance to washing is low.
  2. Sublicotton paper: for printing white cotton t-shirts . It consists of a transparent polyester sheet that you must iron on the shirt and then sublimation prints on this surface of the shirt. It is advisable to cut the transparent sheet in a similar way to the design to avoid applying it on the surface of the shirt that will not be printed. This technique offers low resistance to washing .
  3. SubliFirst Cotton Sublimate Coating – is suitable for printing white or light cotton T-shirts . It is a varnish that you apply on the fabric by means of screen printing or a spray gun , to give the cotton a layer of polyester, after applying it you must let the shirt dry and finally you can print it by sublimation . The resistance to washing is low .

Cotton solutions

Sublimation printable vinyls

If you have a sublimation printer , you are interested in knowing that there are textile vinyls printable by sublimation and you can always print the vinyl with your sublimation printer and then apply the printed vinyl on the black cotton shirt or any color .

Sublimation section of our store, you will find a subsection of Vinyls where 3 sublimable include vinyl, with different finishes:

  1. Subli-Flock : This is a flock or peach skin effect vinyl. You must print your image in mirror and with registration marks to be able to cut the design on the plotter later. Then place the printed design on the sublimable vinyl and iron it at 190ºC, medium pressure and 50-60 seconds . Then load the printed vinyl onto the plotter to cut it . Your plotter will read the registration marks and cut the outline of the design. Finally, remove the adhesive sheet and iron the printed and cut vinyl on the shirt at 155-165ºC, medium pressure and 17-20 seconds .
  2. Poly-Flex : This is a vinyl with a glossy finish , similar to satin. The application process is similar to the vinyl above. You must print your design in mirror and with registration marks to be able to cut it later. Next, stamp the design on the vinyl by launching at 190ºC, medium pressure and 40-50 seconds . Then cut the printed vinyl on the cutting plotter. And in a last step, remove the protective sheet and place the printed vinyl on the garment to adhere it. You must iron it at 155-165ºC, medium pressure and 17-20 seconds .
  3. SubliTex : This is a vinyl with a matte finish and with the peculiarity that you must print the vinyl directly on your sublimation printer. If you want to cut printed vinyl, remember to place registration marks on your design before printing. Cut the vinyl on your cutting plotter. As a last step, you must remove the backing from the printed vinyl and apply it to the shirt by ironing at 170ºC, medium pressure and 50 seconds . In this ironing, the colors will be reinforced, as is usual in sublimation.

Sublimation printable vinyls

In all three cases, it is advisable to use a cutting plotter to cut the background of the sublimation-printed vinyl before applying it to the garment. And in order to do that, you need to print your design with registration marks, stamp the registration marks onto the vinyl, and then load it onto the cutting plotter to cut it out. You can use a household cutting plotter, as simple as the Silhouette Cameo plotter .

Conclusion

If you only have a sublimation printer , with the solutions that we have proposed in this post you can overcome the limitation that you can only sublimate white polyester garments . Learn how to get the most out of your sublimation printer, and carry out your own tests with these solutions that we have proposed. Performs stamping tests and also resistance to washing . In this way, you can offer your customers different options and you can also indicate the resistance to washing of each of these techniques. If you have already tried any of these techniques, tell us  what technique would you recommend to print on dark cotton?

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