Sublimation transfers are a popular way of decorating garments with logos and images for events, parties, and memberships. However, transfers don’t last forever.
The sublimation process is heat activated, which means that when exposed to heat from any source, the image will be imprinted onto whatever it’s been applied to. If you want your sublimation transfers to last longer, then use the golden rules for pre-printing below:
8 Golden Rules for Pre-Printing Sublimation Transfers
1) Pre-wash uniformly
Before subliming, the most important thing is to pre-wash your fabrics thoroughly in detergent designed for sublimation transfer products so that any fibers or chemicals on the garment can be removed—most people who try sublimation transfers without pre-washing their fabric report a poor final result.
2) Use sublimation inks only
Never use ‘normal’ permanent inks to pre-print your image. Sublimation is a process that works with sublimation inks and specially designed sublimation paper, not normal printing ink. If you want your sublimations to last, you must stick to this golden rule.
3) Pre-print on sublimation paper
The best results are achieved if you pre-print on sublimate transfer paper instead of the garment itself because the sublimate transfer paper will have been manufactured for optimum color development when exposed to the heat of the sublimating process. You can buy sublimate papers online from us here at www.subsclub.com
4) Final sublimation should be at 200 degrees Celsius
Never sublimate below 180 degrees or above 220 degrees because this will damage the color pigments and could cause a loss of color quality.
5) Avoid contact with water, sweat, or hard rubbing
Exposure to water or moisture can result in the image fading off the garment after a brief time. To ensure that your sublimations last for longer, avoid water exposure by hand washing garments instead of using a washing machine.
Excessive rubbing from clothes pegs when drying may also degrade your transfer’s longevity, so take care not to cover any part of the sublimated design when drying.
6) Use sublimation paper with an adhesive layer
Ensure that the sublimation paper you are using has a protective polymer or glue layer on one side. This will help the sublimate stick better onto your garment, so there is less chance of it lifting later.
If your sublimate isn’t sticking well, then it’s time to throw away and start again with new sublimate transfer sheets!
7) Sublimate images darker than you want them
If you sublimate images too lightly, they won’t last as long as if they were printed darker due to excessive exposure to heat during the process. It’s worth remembering this golden rule because transfers are designed to be masterfully made sublimated.
8) Never sublimate fine detail or halftone images
Suppose you sublimate detailed pictures like faces, logos, or intricate patterns. In that case, the image will appear duller because these pictures are usually sublimated in a lighter shade to reduce the risk of missing details during the process.
If you sublimate images with fine detail or halftone images, they may fade quickly after washing and be more susceptible to rubbing from clothing pegs when drying.
Golden Rules for Sublimation Prints Storage
Storage of sublimation prints is tricky because they are prone to damage if exposed to light for an extended period. This storage guide will outline exactly what you need to do to keep your sublimation prints safe and sound.
- Keep the sublimation print storage unit in the dark location away from light rays (including reflected light rays such as light coming off the wall behind it).
- Keep storage unit in low humidity environment (if where you live is damp, place an extra dehumidifier nearby)
- If your storage unit gets dusty, wipe down the sublimation storage unit once per week using a feather duster and wipe down the storage unit with water to wash away dust (do not expose the storage unit to sunlight directly!)
- Never store sublimation prints in plastic storage bags (the plastic creates an oxygen pocket which could lead to damage over time)
Can Sublimation Transfer be Reused?
When reusing sublimation transfers, consider the risks involved. You will most likely end up wasting your blank and having poor-quality prints because of how easily ink can smudge on paper or stiffness in the fabric; this is especially true if you adjust your printer settings from high quality to standard ones without first checking whether it solves many issues with fading colors.
You can print sublimation prints in advance and store them for future use. It’s good to get into this practice once you start selling because it will allow interested customers.