neon garment t-shirt apparel sublimation heat transfer

4 Causes of Burn Marks from Sublimation

Award-winning author and international speaker Jimmy Lamb has over 25 years of product decoration business experience. Mr. Lamb has extensive knowledge in many facets of digital decorating and embellishing including business startup, applications, techniques, marketing, sales, mobile, production and management. He has owned and operated a successful production facility, started a retail franchise operation and has provided production solutions to a variety of Fortune 500 corporations involved in customization, decoration and embellishment. His articles appear regularly in various industry magazines in the United States and Europe. In addition, Mr. Lamb is a frequent speaker at Industry Events and Trade Shows domestically and internationally. Currently, he works with Sawgrass Technologies as the Manager of Communication and Education, where he has been instrumental in developing their educational seminars and webinars. 

True burn marks could be caused by several things:

  1. The temperature is too high on the heat press. Verify the correct temperature is being used for the application. Also verify that the heat press temperature indicator is showing the true temperature of the heat press. Purchase a digital pyrometer from a sublimation dealer to take readings. Do not use a temperature gun bought from a hardware store. Contact the heat press manufacturer for instructions on how to recalibrate the temperature indicator.
  2. The heat was applied too long. Verify the correct time setting for the application and do not exceed it.
  3. The heat press platen is dirty. What looks like a burn mark could be contamination on the upper heat press platen. Most sublimation dealers sell products for cleaning the platen.
  4. The substrate is defective. This is most common with apparel. Sometimes additives have been used in the manufacture of the garment, which may have an effect on the sublimation. An example is neon fabrics. Brighteners (chemicals) are added to neon dyes to enhance the color. They are easily affected by heat. Typically, at around 300 F the fabric starts to turn a brownish color, which looks like a burn, though it’s just a discoloration. There is no fix other than trying a different brand of garment.

—Jimmy Lamb, Sawgrass