This article will go through what sublimation is, what materials you will need and how to correctly know the difference between sublimation, vinyl, and screen print.
WHAT IS SUBLIMATION?
Sublimation is a process that occurs when the ink is heated it turns into a gas and embeds color into polyester fibers. You will need a printer that does not use heat to move the ink onto paper. This is why for sublimation you can only use Epson printer or a printer specifically made for sublimation. Other brand printers use a source of heat to help move the ink onto paper. For an example have you ever use a big printer at work, or a library and the sheets of paper come out warm? Even personal printers have a small source of heat. Epson printers uses heat free technology which eliminates printer warm up times thus the reason this make it the ideal printer for sublimation.
When it comes to colors there is no white in sublimation. If you were to sublimate on a shirt with color other than white the white areas of the design take on the color of the shirt. This is why white shirts and other blanks is the most recommended color. If your design is mostly black or a design with little background or detail then you can use other light colored products.
When working with sublimation your materials have to have polyester 90-100% polyester is best for the bright most vibrant colors but its only required to have about 55% or more. the lower your polyester count the lower your print quality be. Sublimation does work in a jam on cotton but you will have a vintage look and after a few washes the color might be mostly to completely washed out. So for personal use mostly or 100% cotton is okay if you don't mind the vintage look and possible the ink washing out but if you plan to do this for business stay away from cotton. Make sure you give your best to your customers and use materials with 65% or more polyester.
Materials for sublimation includes an Epson printer or a printer made especially for sublimation like a sawgrass printer, Sublimation ink, Sublimation paper, Butcher paper, heat tape, a heat press that goes above 400 so a Cricut easy press 2 is a good alternative if you have limited space, and you will also need polyester sublimation blanks. If you don't know where to begin check out my website kreativelyslayed.com and grab the sublimation starter kit where I give you a complete list and even links to the best products to buy to get your journey started. This item will be free for a limited time so check it out before the price rises.
WHAT IS HEAT TRANSFER VINYL?
Heat Transfer Vinyl commonly referred to as HTV can be applied to any color or material of your choice. Unfortunately, HTV cannot do an in-depth design and is limited to layering simple colors for designs with HTV. If you are interested in a particular color shirt and it is a simple design HTV is the way to go. Unlike sublimation with HTV, you will be able to "feel" the design. What i mean by feel is HTV is like a sticker you can feel the material and feel the outlie of that vinyl. Sublimation on the other hand is like using a marker to draw on a shirt you can't feel the marker and if you were to touch the shirt you couldn't tell if there was anything in it without looking. This is a plus for sublimation because to much vinyl can distort the shirt or other product it is being applied to. you lose any stretchiness in that area, and its stiff and sometime uncomfortable.
For vinyl you will need a heat press or for beginners you can even use a regular iron with steam setting off and with lots of pressure, a cutting machine and most of the tools you will need( besides the vinyl) will come in the package with your cutting machine like weeding tools, sticky mat, scissors, you will also need vinyl you can get it from a few good online retailers and in a pinch craft stores like Michaels and Joann's. Even places like Walmart and target have started carrying vinyl. You can also check out my sublimation starter kit on my website (kreaativelyslayed.com) to help you with the different types of cutting machines and a few good websites for vinyl.
TYPES OF VINYL
We already talked about heat transfer vinyl which will go on material that is a fabric like shirts, bags, tote bags, pillows etc. But there is also adhesive vinyl. There are 2 different grades of adhesive vinyl there is removeable and permanent. Removeable is of course vinyl that is like a sticker it can be picked up and readjusted or completely removed from the object. This is best for items you want customized but don't want a permanent design. Like windows, mirrors, walls, cars, and other objects you don't want a permanent design. Then there is permanent vinyl this type once applied is very hard to remove. So when applying work with a small section at a time incase you need to readjust. This vinyl is great for cups, car decals, window decals for business, anything that will be outside. There's lots of uses for adhesive vinyl its just depends if you want it to be removeable or permanent.
WHAT IS SCREEN PRINT
Screen print is a topic a know little about so i will be brief but i felt it necessary to mention in this article because it is usually mentioned in the sublimation and vinyl crafting world. Screen print is a "paint" that is applied to a material through a screen and a stencil. The set up is much more costly then the previous 2 mentioned but in terms of detail and versatility this option is the best. Screen print can be applied to any material and also doesn't lack on details like vinyl does. You can make your own rig for a small scale like personal use, you can get a commercial scale for business use or you can get a DTF which means direct to fabric. This means you can buy transfers from people that already have the equipment. This is a great option is you want as little start up cost because this option you will only need a heat press to start. You can offer mainly shirts, but also tote bags. Most seller sell their transfers from $2-$5 each you can select a few designs you like and have those on hand or you can have pre orders so you can let your customer decide what they want.
Overall Sublimation, Vinyl, and screen print are great in there own right but each one lacks something. This is why i mention them all because once you start with one you may end up incorporating or completely switching over to another. I started with a cutting machine and vinyl, then I was introduced to sublimation. When I started I didn't know what screen print or sublimation was so I didn't have the option to correctly choose. This is why I wanted to write this so the next crafter can correctly choose or implement all into their personal or business life. Like a said each craft has its own strengths and weaknesses. Sublimations strength is detailed designs and more product you can put those detailed design on like Tumbler, Pillows, Christmas stockings, bags, Jewelry, etc. Vinyl can be put on any type of shirt but lacks details, Screen prints is only best on shirts and other fabric materials, but isn't limited to a certain type of fabric like sublimation.
I hope this article helped you just a little. Hopefully my thought are correctly expressed. I would love feedback and I would love for you to join my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KreativelySlayed and Facebook sublimation blanks group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1330775050640226