Dye Sublimation: The Art of Printing Fabrics
What is Dye Sublimation Printing?
Dye sublimation is a unique and technical digital printing process that our experts have practiced since the technology’s inception almost 20 years ago. Unlike traditional printing where ink dries on the surface of a material, sublimation uses heat and pressure to chemically bind ink molecules to polyester and polymer-coated substrates. Dye sublimation is known for creating lasting results and vivid colors, leaving your graphics even more striking than you imagined.
The Dye Sublimation Process
While dye sublimation can be used on various substrates this article will focus on fabrics.
The dye-sub project starts when one of our digital specialists sets up the file to work in conjunction with our printer. The graphic is then printed, using liquid gel inks, on cellulose-coated transfer paper designed to hold the ink for the sublimation process. Our technicians place the transfer paper face-down to meet the fabric and the pieces are then fed into our roll-to-roll heat transfer press. Now the fun begins!
Heated to approximately 400°F, the heat press sublimates the ink from the transfer paper directly into a gaseous state, bypassing the liquid form. Pressure is applied along with the heat and as the ink gasses meet the fabric, the ink transforms back into a solid state resulting in the ink and fabric being chemically bonded together. Once the completed fabric is taken off the heat transfer press, it moves on to our finishing department where clients can choose from services like silicone edges, pole pockets, zipper closures, hems, and more. Colorchrome’s in-house seamstress is skilled at sewing finishing for projects of any size, for trade shows, art exhibits or events like this giant Super Bowl dome below. After any final touches, your project is packaged for pickup or delivery through Colorchrome’s white label fulfillment services.
Dye Sublimation Applications
We are experienced in printing on a wide variety of dye sublimation fabrics in an array of textures. Think back-lit, heavy knit, soft knit, black-out, poplin weave, sheer and more. Our team will review all options with you to help you make the best selection for your project. If you have a special material in mind, just let us know. Recently, we worked with an artist to print images on a sequin material, providing a unique experience for exhibition patrons. Check out the project photos below!
With the ability to print fabric up to ten feet wide, Colorchrome can produce large-scale graphics to fit virtually any space or display. Soft signage is an effective and highly-reusable solution for corporate banners, event displays, trade show signage, pool tables, flags, and more. From printed backlit banners displayed amongst the trees, to heavy knit trade show zip-ins, our tenured team has tackled it all.
Silicone edge graphics (SEG) are among our most popular orders for seamless fabric displays. The silicone edge is sewn around the edge of the dye sublimated fabric for easy pop-in installation to an aluminum frame extrusion. The flush design keeps the fabric taut and ready for presentation.
How Long Do Dye Sublimation Prints Last?
When properly cared for, dye sublimation prints are incredibly durable and long-lasting because the ink is fused with the fabric. A majority of our fabrics are meant for indoor uses, so keeping them from direct sunlight will prevent your design from premature fading.
Can Dye Sublimated Fabrics Be Cleaned?
Yes! Dye sublimated fabrics can be spot-cleaned with soap and water, dry-cleaned or simply thrown in the washing machine. This makes them a great choice for table cloths, window treatments and event signage.
Key Benefits of Using Our Dye Sublimation Printing for Your Trade Show
Adding a trade show exhibition to your company’s schedule can feel daunting, but we are here to help! We will collaborate with you to understand your goals and then provide quality and long-lasting dye sublimation products to make your booth stand out from the competition.
When it comes to signage, dye-sub fabric printing is often your best bet for many reasons. Depending on the order, our fabric printing services typically provide quick production turnaround and timeline flexibility. Our team also ensures you have the tools to properly install your trade show graphics, and we’re happy to connect you with installers to help with set-up as well. Dye sublimation fabrics are known for their durability and reusability, creating the perfect sustainable solution for your current trade show… and the next one… and the one after that!
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of using dye-sub fabrics for trade shows is the quick and easy install and take-down of your booth – allowing your team to arrive later and get off the show floor sooner at the end of a long show! Finally, because fabric is naturally lightweight and compactible, packaging is smaller and lighter than rigid booth panels so it ships at lower rates. That’s better for the environment and you’ll save money while still having a sophisticated and high-impact display.
Colorchrome is proud to provide state-of-the-art dye sublimation services for every need—it’s an easy solution with endless potential. From trade shows to fine art applications, you can’t go wrong with versatile, durable and vivid fabric prints.
Let us Help You
If you’re interested in seeing more of Colorchrome’s collaborative efforts using dye sublimation fabric printing, click here. If you have an idea that you think Colorchrome can help you bring to life, let’s start a conversation.