Sublimation Printing F.A.Q

The image on the printed sheet looks very pale?

This is completely normal. The ink will not penetrate the paper fully. Sublimation ink needs heat, pressure and time to penetrate the substrate. Once you have completed the sublimation process your final product should have a bright and crisp image on it.

Will I get messy with Sublimation Printing?

Not at all. Everything is dry. The only time I have got in a bit of a mess was when I was refilling ink cartridges for the printer using syringes. Luckily, our Virtuosa printer uses Sawgrass cartridges which are completely sealed. No need for messy refills!

I am having trouble getting the heat resistant tape off my product once it is hot

Burnt fingers are not nice and they do not need to be an occupational hazard! You only need to use enough tape to keep the paper secure on the substrate – it doesn’t have to be wrapped up like a present. Fold a little bit of the tape back on itself once you have secured the paper – this will not affect the heat press and will give you something to hold onto to pull off the tape – it will still be hot so be careful!

My image isn’t straight on my product

I am afraid this is a need for practice. Wherever you secure your paper, that will be where the image is printed. The heat press won’t move your image itself. Make sure you have secured the paper enough so that when the press is closed it doesn’t cause a shift in either the paper or the substrate.

Make sure you have lined up the image straight on your substrate. Making sure you cut straight lines around your template if you are cutting around an image will help with lining up against a straight edge of a substrate.

 

My dark colours aren’t dark enough on  my finished product

Firstly make sure you are using our Sawgrass recommended paper. The quality of paper affects the colour finish. Blacks can look a bit brown if you are not using quality paper. Make sure you have not changed where you are storing your paper. All paper will absorb moisture from the air and alteration in temperatures. Has your paper been out of the wrapper for a long time? If so use a fresh sheet. Try and keep paper in its sealed wrapping for as long as possible.

Are you heating up the press correctly? If it’s a mug press ensure you have a blank mug in it as it is heating up. Is the mug you are going to print on at room temperature? If it is too cold it will lower the temperature of the press as it goes in and you will not be sublimating at the accurate temperature.

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Gaps in printing

Check your substrates are clean and free from dust – likewise with your paper before you print on it.

Check you are securing the paper tightly enough to the substrates so it is not puckering or slipping in the press.

Some mugs will have a slight taper towards the base to help them slip off the manufacturer’s mould easier. Cheaper mugs may have a more prominent taper. Check your mug’s shape. A large taper will cause the apper to wrinkle once it is pressed against the mug in the heat press.

Check the coating of the substrate. Our products will have a good sound coating with no blemishes. Cheaper products will have a cheaper coating that may not take the sublimation inks well.

 

Poor quality transfer

Firstly make sure you are using our Sawgrass recommended paper. The quality of paper affects the colour finish. Blacks can look a bit brown if you are not using quality paper. Make sure you have not changed where you are storing your paper. All paper will absorb moisture from the air and alter temperature. Has your paper been out of the wrapper for a long time? If so use a fresh sheet. Try and keep paper in its sealed wrapping for as long as possible.

Are you heating up the press correctly? If it’s a mug press ensure you have a blank mug in it as it is heating up. Is the mug you are going to print on at room temperature? If it is too cold it will lower the temperature of the press as it goes in and you will not be sublimating at the accurate temperature.

 

Some of my colour looks like it is running

When the image appears to have a colour run (bleed) or a hue around the edges, this means the substrate has not been cooled quickly enough. The best way to cool it is not to submerge it in water which has been advised by many in the past, but to leave it under a cool fan with the fan at a 45 degree angle until the product is completely cool.

Sublimation inks will continue to “cook” even out of the press due to the intensity of the heat they are subjected to. Cooling the ink and the product quickly (but without cracking the product) will stop the cooking process.

Ensure you remove the transfer paper immediately upon taking the product out of the press.

 

Do I need to cool my finished product?

I always say yes. This helps avoid the colours running or blurring around the edges – particularly on ceramics. It means you can package them quicker as well.  I like to have a fan on anyway as the presses get very hot and the room heats up quickly.

Sublimation inks will continue to “cook” even out of the press due to the intensity of the heat they are subjected to. Cooling the ink and the product quickly (but without cracking the product) will stop the cooking process.

Ensure you remove the transfer paper immediately upon taking the product out of the press.

 

What is the best way to cool a ceramic – there are so many suggestions out there

There are numerous bits of advice – a common one is to submerge your ceramic into a bucket of luke warm water. I would strongly advise against this. You may have no problem at all with a few but every now and then you will hear the ceramic “ping”. Whilst you may not see any damage the pinging means something is happening! And it’s not good! Why sell a product that may crack or worse still, break with a hot coffee in it? By far the best way to cool a product is to place it under a fan, which is tilted to a 45 degree angle. Keep turning the product if you are close by. Otherwise leave it there to have a nice chill, before packaging it up.

 

I get a haze of colour around my image

When the image appears to have a colour run or a hue around the edges, this means the substrate has not been cooled quickly enough. The best way to cool it is not to submerge it in water which has been advised by many in the past, but to leave it under a cool fan with the fan at a 45 degree angle until the product is completely cool.

Do I need to cool my finished product?

I advise yes! I like to have a fan on anyway as the presses get very hot and the room heats up quickly.

Sublimation inks will continue to “cook” even out of the press due to the intensity of the heat they are subjected to. Cooling the ink and the product quickly (but without cracking the product) will stop the cooking process.

Ensure you remove the transfer paper immediately upon taking the product out of the press.

The colours in my transferred image are incorrect

Colour profiles are created according to the software you are using. They tell your printer what colours to mix to replicate the image from your computer. The software package we provide does this to a very high, professional level, it is not a “one size fits all” package. This colour profile has been specifically tailored for the paper we supply.It knows what colours to use on that particular paper. Only use our recommended software and paper – your images should be perfect!

 

After being in the heat press the paper looks scorched

This can indicate that you are pressing for too long. You can adjust your times but generally, as long as the image is transferred to your satisfaction, scorched paper isn’t going to cause you too many problems.

 

My customer has complained that the inside of the mug has got tea stains after a short time of using

This may be an indication of a cheap mug. Mugs that do not have a good quality coating will continue to absorb a degree of colour – hot tea and coffee being one of them. This should not happen with our products.

There is a rim around the top of the inside of the mug

This may be an indication of a cheap mug. Mugs are generally dipped into the coating then hung to dry – though not always. The coating however should not come to an end just inside the mug. Coating edges should not be visible.

I have printed onto a piece of material and the area that has been in the heat press now looks darker than the rest

Don’t worry. All materials adjust to the room temperature. The heat press takes out all of that moisture with the heat. Once the material is left for a few hours it will go back to how it was.

 

Can I print on both sides of my tote bag / tea towel / t-shirt etc?

Yes! Just a tip – make sure you only print on one side at a time making sure the paper is the right way. Make sure your heat press is clean before each printing so nothing transfers. I use a spare piece of teflon sheet to put inside the tote bag / tshirt etc just as an extra clean precaution, but it probably isn’t necessary – I am just being over cautious. Ensure the first side printed has cooled before printing on the reverse.

 

I plan to have a stall at a craft show. Can I take my heat presses with me?

Of course – as long as you have a power source to plug them in to, all our heat presses are happy to join you at your marketing events. Bear in mind that these are machines that are calibrated so don’t throw them around or drop them! Be careful, treat them like you would a laptop and they should travel well.

 

I am getting marks on my products that aren’t on my printed paper

Check that your heat press beds are clean. Wiping with a non-fluffy cloth will be sufficient.