How to sublimate T-shirts
As a business or for personal enjoyment, you're here because you want to customize T-shirts and you know that sublimation is the perfect technique to do it. Quick and easy to learn, it offers great, long-lasting results, especially if you're looking to print photo-quality images. So get to work because we're going to explain what you need and how to carry out the process step by step to make that t-shirt with your dog's picture a real work of art.
What do you need to sublimate t-shirts?
- An inkjet printer to print the image you want to capture on the T-shirt. Keep in mind that it must be a printer intended exclusively for this technique, this means that if you use it with normal ink, it will no longer be useful for sublimation, since the inks, as we will explain below, are different.
- Sublimation ink, that is, a special ink that reacts with temperature turning into gas and penetrating the surface of the sublimatable product. To sublimate you only need four colors (black, yellow, cyan and magenta), but it is essential that they are of good quality to ensure the sharpness and intensity of the image. Remember that when you print the image on the paper you will not see it with the original coloring, the tonalities will be more muted. That's ok, the color will be correct once you fix the design on the t-shirt.
- Sublimation paper for transporting the ink from the printer to the t-shirt and transferring the design by applying heat. Although of different brands, there is only one type of paper for sublimation regardless of what we are going to sublimate, this means that the paper will be the same for mugs, fabrics, porcelain, etc.. In this case, as we are talking about T-shirts, it is not necessary to use thermal tape to fix the design to the fabric as when we sublimate mugs.
- And finally, the transfer iron, essential to apply heat thus activating the ink to penetrate the fabric. When you get it, take into account the size, because it will not be the same for sublimating small objects such as mugs or keychains than for sublimating textiles.
- As is logical, you will also need shirts, and remember that not all of them are suitable for sublimation. They must be made of synthetic fibers and have a high percentage of polyester (more than 50%). Remember also that it is preferable to opt for white or light-colored fabrics so that the colors of the image you are going to print do not appear altered.
How to sublimate t-shirts step by step
Once you have everything you need to sublimate, we start the process:
- Choose the design and print it on your inkjet printer using sublimation ink and paper. Remember that on the paper you will not see the image with the original coloring, don't worry.
- Now place the printed sublimation paper on the T-shirt so that the printed side is in contact with the fabric. Be careful that there are no wrinkles or creases left.
- Now, place and adjust the T-shirt in the iron previously configured with the temperature and time indicated in the instructions and close it for the sublimation to take place.
- When the process is finished, remove the item with caution. It is not superfluous to use a glove to avoid getting burned.
Our tips for getting the best sublimated t-shirts
- The higher the percentage of polyester in the t-shirt the better the sublimation result will be.
- The same goes for the color of the fabric, the whiter, the better.
- Make sure to place the printed side of the paper in contact with the fabric, getting confused is not that difficult and it would mess up the process.
- Also make sure the plate is clean, ink residue from previous prints can smudge.