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Kornit’s Digital Printing Glossary


Dye Sublimation Printing Definition

Dye Sublimation Printing Definition

Dye sublimation is a digital printing technology that uses heat transfer to apply an image to the intended substrate. Also referred to as digital sublimation, the process is commonly used for decorating apparel, signs and banners as well as other items with sublimation-friendly surfaces.

Dye sublimation printing features the following two-part process:

  1. Print graphics onto special transfer paper using sublimation printer and inks
  2. Use a heat press to transfer the ink-on-paper to the substrate

In step 1, unique sublimation dyes are transferred to sheets of “transfer” paper via liquid gel ink. The ink is deposited on these high-release inkjet papers, which are used for the next step of the sublimation printing process.

In step 2, the printed transfer sheets are transferred through heat, which converts the solid dye into a gaseous form without going through a liquid form. Heat coupled with pressure causes the dye to penetrate the interior of the substrate, creating a permanent color bond. Once the heat is removed, the dye returns to a solid form and the process is complete.

As colors are embedded in the substrate or fabric, rather than printed on the surface, images on fabric won’t fade or crack even after multiple washings.

Learn more about Kornit’s DTG printing solutions, and discover unparalleled printing quality, speed and performance.