What Is the Process of Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing, also known as heat transfer printing, applies an image to a substrate using heat and pressure. The idea is first printed onto paper or plastic film using special sublimation inks. Heat and pressure transfer the inks to the substrate, resulting in a permanent, full-color image.

How Does Sublimation Printing Work?

Sublimation printing uses heat and pressure to transfer ink from a paper or plastic film to a substrate. The ink is first printed onto the paper or film using special sublimation inks. The inks are then transferred to the substrate through heat and pressure. The heat causes the ink to vaporize, and the pressure forces the vaporized ink into the pores of the substrate. As the ink cools, it solidifies and bonds with the substrate, resulting in a permanent, full-color image.

A Step by Step Guide to Sublimation Printing

Essentially, sublimation takes place in three steps. Therefore, you need to understand the three steps in detail to understand how sublimation works. If you don’t understand the three steps, knowing how sublimation works will be challenging. 

1. Create Artwork Using a Software

The first stage involves creating artwork using the software. The software that you use will depend on the design that you want to make. For example, if you create a simple design, you can use Microsoft Paint or other essential image editing software. However, if you want to create a complex design, you need to use more sophisticated software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Once you have created the design, you need to print it onto a sheet of paper or plastic film using sublimation inks. The inks are specially formulated to vaporize at high temperatures.

2. Transferring the Image to the Substrate

The second stage involves transferring the image to the substrate. The substrate is the material that you want to print the image onto. The most common substrates used for sublimation are polyester fabric, ceramic tiles, and metal. To transfer the image, you need to place the paper or film on top of the substrate and then apply heat and pressure. In this step, it is crucial to use the correct temperature and pressure settings so that the ink will vaporize and bond with the substrate.

3. Finishing the Process

The third and final stage involves finishing the process. Once you have applied the heat and pressure, you need to allow the substrate to cool so that the ink can solidify and bond with the material. After the substrate has cooled, you can remove the paper or film to reveal the permanent, full-color image.


Sublimation printing is a great way to create high-quality, full-color images on various substrates. This important printing technology helps businesses and individuals create custom products for promotional or personal use. If you are interested in learning more about sublimation printing, working with experienced professionals in the industry is always necessary. Contact 3 in 1 Design for all your sublimation printing needs. Here, you’ll access the necessary custom sublimation printing services that will enhance the quality of your images.