The Magic of Dye Sublimation
Dye sublimation is a pretty amazing printing method that has gained popularity in various industries, including fashion, photography, and personalised merchandise. We use this technique to create vivid, durable, and high-quality prints on a wide range of materials including ceramics, but how does it work?
The Basics of Dye Sublimation:
Dye sublimation is a digital printing process that transfers dye onto materials such as fabrics, ceramics, metal, and polymer-coated substrates. Unlike traditional printing methods that lay ink on the surface, dye sublimation works by converting solid dye particles into a gas, which then permeates the material's fibres and solidifies to form a permanent bond. This results in vibrant and photo-realistic prints that are embedded within the material rather than sitting on top.
The Process in detial:
1. Digital Design: The dye sublimation process begins with a digital design created using specialised software. This design serves as the blueprint for the final print, determining every colour and detail.
2. Printing: The designed image is printed in reverse onto a specially coated transfer paper using dye sublimation ink. These inks typically contain a unique blend of sublimation dyes that can transform into a gaseous state at high temperatures.
3. Heat Pressing: The printed transfer paper is carefully positioned face-down onto the target material. The material, often made of polyester or containing a polyester coating, is chosen for its ability to hold the dye sublimation ink effectively.
4. Applying Heat and Pressure: The transfer paper and material are then subjected to high heat and pressure in a heat press. The heat causes the sublimation dyes on the transfer paper to convert directly from a solid to a gas without turning into a liquid state. The gaseous dyes penetrate the material's surface and fuse with its fibres, becoming a permanent part of the fabric or coating.
5. Cooling and Setting: After a few seconds of heat exposure, the heat press is released, and the material cools down, allowing the gaseous dyes to solidify within the fibres. The result is a seamless, durable, and fade-resistant print that can withstand washing and prolonged use.
So that's why our mugs can survive repeated cycles of the dishwasher without the designs fading as some more traditional printing methods may do.