Sublimation printing has become increasingly popular among clothing decorators because it produces high-quality, long-lasting images that don’t fade or peel. However, sublimating on dark shirts presents a unique challenge since the ink is typically transparent, and the colors may not appear as vibrant as they would on light-colored shirts. In this article, we will explore how to sublimate on dark shirts with some tips and tricks to achieve the best results when sublimating on dark shirts.
What is sublimation printing?
Sublimation printing is a method of printing where heat and pressure are used to transfer a design onto transfer sheets and then onto materials such as fabric, metal, ceramics, and plastics. Sublimation printing produces vibrant and long-lasting prints that won’t fade or crack.
Factors you need to know
- Sublimation can not work on 100% cotton shirts
- Sublimation ink does not print white color
- ink is not visible when you directly applied on dark-colored garments
Sublimating on dark shirts ( Step-by-Step Guide )
Materials you will need:
- A dark-colored polyester shirt
- Special sublimation ink for dark fabrics
- Transfer paper with a white toner
- Heat press
- Teflon sheet
- Heat-resistant tape
1- Choose and prepare your design: Select or create a design to print on your shirt using graphic design software, don’t forget to mirror the design, as it will appear reversed on the shirt. Also, ensure that your design fits within the size of your transfer paper.
2- Print your design: Print your mirrored design onto the transfer paper with a white toner using a laser printer. Make sure that your printer settings are set to the highest quality and that the toner is fully dry before moving onto the next step.
3- Cut and prepare the transfer paper: Trim the excess transfer paper around the design, but leaving a small margin of about 1/4 inch. Then, use heat-resistant tape to secure the transfer paper onto the shirt, making sure that the design is centered and aligned.
4- Sublimation: Place the shirt with the transfer paper face down on the heat press. Cover it with a Teflon sheet and apply heat and pressure according to the instructions of your sublimation ink and transfer paper. Typically, sublimation requires temperatures between 375-400°F and pressure between 40-60 PSI, for about 40-60 seconds.
5- Cool down and remove the transfer paper: Remove the shirt from the heat press and let it cool down for a few seconds. Then, gently peel off the transfer paper, revealing your sublimated design.
6- Finished! You have successfully done sublimation on a dark shirt! Give the shirt a final inspection to ensure that the design is fully transferred and not smudged. The shirt is now ready to be worn or sold.
Tips for successful sublimation printing
Choosing the Right Shirts
When sublimating on dark shirts, you need to choose a fabric that is at least 50% polyester. The higher the percentage of polyester, the better the sublimation results will be. You should also select a shirt that is light in color or has a pastel shade. This will allow the colors to show up better and provide a more vibrant result.
Choosing the right printer
When you are choosing a printer, it’s important to choose one that’s compatible with sublimation ink. Some popular sublimation printers are the Epson EcoTank, Sawgrass Virtuoso, and Ricoh SG series. It’s also important to consider the size of the printer and the size of the prints you’ll be making.
Using the Right Ink
For the best results when sublimating on dark shirts, you need to use the right ink. You should use a special sublimation ink designed for dark fabrics. These inks contain a white toner that allows the colors to show up more vibrantly on dark shirts.
Preparing the Shirts
Before the sublimation process, it’s essential to prepare the shirts properly. You should pre-press the shirt for 15 seconds to remove any moisture and wrinkles. This will ensure that the ink adheres to the fabric correctly. You should also use a lint roller for removing any dust or debris from the shirt’s surface.
FAQs: How to Sublimate on Dark Shirts?
Here are some frequently asked questions about sublimating on dark shirts:
Can I sublimate on cotton shirts?
No, sublimation only works on synthetic materials such as polyester. Cotton and other natural fibers do not have the necessary structure to bond with the sublimation dye.
Can I use regular sublimation ink on dark shirts?
Regular sublimation ink is not suitable for dark shirts since it is transparent and will not show up well on dark fabrics. You need to use a special sublimation ink designed for dark fabrics that contain a white toner.
How do I avoid smudging the design when sublimating on dark shirts?
To avoid smudging, make sure that the ink is fully dry before sublimating. You can also use heat-resistant tape to secure the paper to the shirt and a Teflon sheet to prevent ink from transferring to other parts of the shirt.
Instead of a heat press can i use an iron?
No, using an iron is not recommended since it does not provide consistent heat and pressure, which can cause the design to crack or peel. It’s best to use a heat press for sublimating on dark shirts.
Can I sublimate on black shirts?
Yes, you can sublimate on black shirts using a special sublimation ink designed for dark fabrics that contains a white toner. However, the design may appear slightly faded compared to lighter-colored shirts.
Conclusion: How to Sublimate on Dark Shirts?
Sublimating on dark shirts may seem challenging, but with the right materials and techniques, you can get vibrant and long-lasting results. Remember to choose the right shirt, use the right sublimation ink, and prepare the shirt properly before printing and sublimating. With these tips and tricks, you can create beautiful, and unique designs that will stand a long time.