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Sublimation Dyes

What is Sublimation Ink?

Sublimation inks are formulated as a suspension of different colored dyes in a liquid. The partials should small enough so as to pass through the print head of an ink jet printer. This could only happen efficiently if the Sublimation Dyes are made to extremely tight tolerances. Proper care must be taken in the sublimation ink manufacturing process so that the dyes are consistent. Not adhering to the proper rules means chances of colour shift or clogging during the final transfer.
Sublimation Dyes are not the dyes that has a distinct chemical structure, but a popular variety of dye that has printing applications. It is readily available in the market as inkjet ink, toner for laser printers, or as ribbons for the thermal-transfer printing. Sublimation dyes typically range from the following class of dyes, Acid, Vat, Pigment, Disperse, Direct and Reactive Dyes. Mostly Disperse and Direct Dyes gets the choice of printers as formulations of sublimation. These dyes are prepared from the chemical class of organic systems that is known as azo, anthroquinone and phthalocyanine dye systems.

Preferred sublimation dyes consists of ideally a four to eight color sublimation ink sets. The term "sublimation" has an interesting meaning. It is the process where the solid changes into a gas directly, without undergoing the normal liquid phase in between. So does the sublimation dyes gets converted into gas from solid state as a result of the heat-transfer process. On applying heat and pressure, they subsequently get absorbed into polyester or acrylic materials as the case may be. Sublimation dyes forms durable and virtually permanent images. It has been seen that at approximately 325 degrees when polyester molecules open up. In the transfer process, the dye gets converted into gas. It is this gas that is able to bond with the synthetic fabrics.


Transfer Process of Sublimation dyes

The way in which sublimation dyes are used for producing the " transfers" varies with the equipment type. Here the most common approach using a dye sublimation printer is described.

Dye Ribbon

The basic difference between dye sublimation and other types of printing is option of heat. It is the vaporised colours that permeates the surface of the paper. This creates an effect of gentle gradation at each pixel edges. While in the case of inkjets there is a visible border between dye and paper. In dye sublimation, as the colour infuses the paper, vulnerability to fading and distortion is lower.

Limitations of Sublimation Dyes
  • The fact that sublimation dyes are able to properly react with polyesters does mean of a limit to the kinds of products for which heat transfers can be successfully applied. To illustrate the point, garments made out of pure cotton do not generally accept sublimation dyes. Also non-porous surfaces if not coated with a layer of polyester will not accept the sublimation dyes.
  • Sublimation dyes are transparent by nature, that makes them appropriate for use only on white and light-colored objects.


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