Sublimation myths

10 Most Common Myths About Sublimation

David Gross is president of Condé Systems Inc., of Mobile, Ala. For the past 24 years, he has devoted to advancing sublimation technology. He can be reached by email at

Misconceptions held by sublimators can cause several problems throughout the sublimation process. Consider the 10 most common sublimation myths as well as tips and tricks for correcting these issues:

1.“Just print it. The colors will be correct.”

Don’t assume your monitor displays accurate color. The solution is to print a large color chart, sublimate it to a variety of products/substrates, then refer to these imaged charts to find the color(s) you need for future pressings.

2.“No need to check my printer; it was fine yesterday.”

Do a nozzle check on plain paper at the beginning of every print day or whenever you think there may be an issue. Don’t print a transfer and sublimate to a product only to find out that a color is missing or incomplete.

3.“Just one more cleaning will do.”

If you are having a nozzle-check issue and have already cleaned it several times, stop and call your supplier. There are many things that may correct this including cleaning the maintenance station or performing a print-head flush. As a printer ages, expect more problems. Call your supplier for help; they can show you what to clean on your printer to put it back in great shape.

4.“I can guess the right pressing time and temperature.”

There’s simply no need to waste time and money by guessing. Once you perfect the correct formula for a given product, document it in your own words and post it near your heat press.

5.“The photograph will print fine after I enlarge it.”

An image quality of 72 dpi will not print well. You need 200 dots-per-inch at print size for hard substrates and 150 dpi for soft. Learn to use Adobe Photoshop to properly size images.

6.“The colors are all wrong. It must be my printer.”

Assuming your nozzle check is complete, verify both your printer settings and application settings. Reinstalling CorelDraw might cause color problems so take screen shots of CorelDraw’s Color Management screen and print settings before reinstalling to get your settings back to normal quickly.

7.“Any paper works fine.”

You always need to print on the correct side of the correct paper. It is often difficult to tell which is the print side; if you’re not clear, seek the advice of your paper supplier. I recommend removing the paper at night and storing it in a Ziploc bag to keep it from absorbing moisture. You can also put some sort of mark on your printer showing which way to load paper in the tray.

8.“I can’t do anything about transfer lines.”

When pressing a product, too much pressure will leave ugly paper impressions. If you try to lighten the pressure too much, you may not get a good transfer. Use a piece of Vapor foam under the garment to prevent this from happening.

9.“My printer shows a service required message. It must be time to replace it.”

When you get strange messages from your printer about service required or parts worn out or strange lights flashing, give your supplier a call for help before you throw in the towel.

10.  “I don’t need to call for help.”

Always call your supplier for guidance. Don’t rely on Google for an answer when you can call the experts. 

—David Gross, Condé Systems