What is a Sublimation Transfer Print? Full Explanation of Advantages and Disadvantages and Suitable Fabrics

Do you know there are different kinds of T-shirt prints? This time, I will explain sublimation transfer prints that penetrate the design into the fabric.
To describe it simple, it is something like iron printing.

The main attraction of the sublimation transfer print is that it can print the design and the photo beautifully. There is also a T-shirt type that is suitable for sublimation transfer prints. Let’s take a look at the sublimation transfer prints.

What is a Sublimation Transfer?

A sublimation transfer print is a printing method in which a design is printed on a special sheet in advance, the printed matter is vaporized by heat, and the design is impregnated into the closely attached polyester fabric.

The sublimation transfer print and the full color transfer print are often misunderstood to be the same, but the full color transfer print is a printing method in which a design is pasted onto a fabric by heat. On the other hand, sublimation transfer printing is a printing method that dyes the fabric with heat. Dyeing the fabric is a major feature of sublimation transfer printing.

In a simple image, it is iron-printed. Iron-printing also uses the heat of the iron to make design prints. The basic mechanism of sublimation transfer printing is the same as iron printing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sublimation Transfers

Sublimation transfer is one of the mainstream printing methods and has many advantages. In particular, there are three advantages: good color development, no ink cracks, and a sense of unity between the fabric and the design. But there are three disadvantages you should know. Now let’s look at the pros and cons of sublimation transfer printing.

Advantage #1: Beautiful Color Printing

The sublimation transfer print can print very well. Since digital data and image data can be transferred as they are, they are good at reproducing detailed designs, characters and gradation. It prints digital data with infinitely accurate color tones.

Advantage #2: Ink Does Not Crack

The sublimation transfer print penetrates the fabric, so it rarely fades or cracks the ink. Also, it is very durable, so even if you wash it repeatedly, it does not affect the design. This durability is the appeal of sublimation transfer print.

Advantage #3: The Design and Fabric are Unified

Sublimation transfer print is a printing method to let the design permeate into the fabric. In other words, it gives a beautiful finish without any sense of incongruity like sticking the design on the fabric.

Disadvantage #1: Only Prints on Polyester Material

The sublimation transfer print vaporizes the ink by heat and applies it to the material, but the ink only settles on the polyester. It doesn’t stick well to cotton, silk, nylon and other materials, so the materials that can be printed are limited.

Disadvantage #2: It is Not Suitable for Dark Colored Fabric

The sublimation transfer print goes well with white or light colored fabrics, but it doesn’t go well with the combination of dark colors such as brown or navy. If you print a sublimation transfer on a dark colored fabric, the design will look as if it has sunk into the fabric. If you want to print on dark fabrics, I recommend silk screen printing or inkjet printing.

Disadvantage #3: No Irons or Dryers

If you apply heat to a sublimation transfer-printed T-shirt, such as an iron or dryer, the ink will likely vaporize again and fade or transfer to other clothes. Also, the ink used is weak to ultraviolet rays (UVs). Therefore, if you are exposed to strong ultraviolet rays for a long time, there is a possibility that the color will fade.

What Type of T-shirt is Suitable for Sublimation Transfer Print?

Combination sublimation transfer print and full graphic T-shirt makes this beautiful and cool design.
The T-shirt type with sublimation transfer print makes the best use of the good color in full capacity. In other words, it’s a full graphic T-shirt that can be printed on the entire T-shirt. Full-graphic T-shirts look great with illustrations and photos!

You want to print carefully your own illustrations and memorable photos. With sublimation transfer printing, you can transfer image data as it is, so you can reproduce fine colors and designs as close as possible to the original. Also, it is suitable for sports shirts and practice clothes with fine designs and bright colors.


The sublimation transfer print is a printing method that combines fabric and design to express fine colors and designs.