It is widely thought that sublimation on darker surfaces doesn’t come out nicely. It is true to an extent regarding the fact that prints on cotton fabric or shirts won’t come out accurately. To have accurate prints, 100 % polyester and a light-colored dark shirt are prerequisites.
Considering it a challenging task, many products in the market are emerging for that purpose. They claim they have the ultimate solution to this problem, but let me save you from hurling your resources and time on them. I will tell you what works and how to carry out sublimation with a step-by-step guide and other options you can go for to sublimate on dark shirts.
What is Dye Sublimation Printing?
To learn from scratch, let’s have an idea about sublimation. Sublimation is the process of imprinting an image on any surface in which the ink is converted to the gaseous state without a liquid state involved leaving prints on the surface. The surface on which designs are printed can be of any type ranging from fabric, glass, aluminum, and polyester, to name a few. When the fabric is used as a surface for prints, the process is called Dye Sublimation.
In dye sublimation, the inks are transferred on fabric from polyester film through a heat press. The prints are then covered with a protective sheet to prevent the seeping of light colors. The protective sheet can easily be peeled off when you are done.
For sublimating on dark t-shirts, there are materials that you will need.
Specific products are needed to achieve the best dye prints. Here is the list of products you will need.
- Sublimation printer (Sawgrass SG 500)
- Dark t-shirt (The fabric is 100% polyester or cotton with no dyes to take all the light without emitting any necessary colors).
- Sublimation ink (Easy Subli Ink)
- Sublimation paper (Printer Jack)
- Heat press (Cricut EasyPress 3)
How to Sublimate on Dark Shirts?
Further, follow these steps.
Step 1. Select Design
Prepare the print that you want on your t-shirt. You can use design software to manipulate your images. Ensure your image quality is high to get accurate and clear images on your t-shirt.
Step 2. Print Design on Paper
Sublimation paper often has two sides, one glossy and one slightly rough. The designs are printed on a more coarse side, capable of holding the ink for longer.
Step 3. Trim the Design
Once the designs are transferred to the paper, remove the excess paper with scissors so that only the print will be left. Press the surface of the fabric so, leaving no wrinkles. When pressed with wrinkles, the prints will come out rough and wrinkled.
Step 4. Place the Design on the Shirt
Before you place the curated design on the t-shirt, peel off the gleaming side at the back of the image.
Step 5. Apply Heat
Place the design on the fabric and put both in the pre-heated sublimation printer. The temperature is recommended to be set to 360 to 400 Fahrenheit and pressed for 15 seconds.
Your printed t-shirt is ready to wear after it’s cooled down.
Products that Work with Dark Colors for Sublimation
With the increasing demand for sublimation on dark fabric, companies are competing to offer the best solutions. Some have developed effective products when sublimating on dark fabric, while others are ineffective. We have enlisted some of them with a brief description of each so you will know whether they are worth your consideration.
The product is famous for sublimation on darker fabric. It carries high pressure, which enables it to imprint the tiniest details onto the fabric while sublimating. With increasing usage and washing of the printed T-shirt, you can notice some cracks. But still, I consider it a good choice as the print remains bright and clear similar to the design for quite a time.
B-Flex Glitter HTV
The B Flex is widely used with dark fabric for its compatibility. Though it doesn’t provide brighter prints than Siser Glitter HTV, it contains 320 microns and is available in different colors.
The Subli Flock is a suitable heat transfer vinyl for fabric. It gives bright and clear colors on darker T-shirts that you will love. However, it is not durable, and you will notice cracks after about ten times of washing. The cracks get more noticeable with more washing.
The product is right for darker surfaces with bright and fantastic prints. However, in terms of durability, it can’t be highly rated. The Subli Flex leaves delicate prints and is recommended to hand wash if you want the prints to last longer.
The Siser EasySubli is an excellent product for sublimation in color and durability. It gives the best, brightest, and most precise superior results with long-lasting prints. It is crack resistant when compared to other vinyl heat transfer products. Before using the product, you must ensure it is compatible with your printer, as Siser EasySubli is printer sensitive.
Read our step-by-step guide on how to sublimate on glitter HTV.
There are also other factors to consider that play a vital role when sublimating on dark surfaces.
Choice of Printer
The type of printer you use for printing affects the output you get. Mainly, inkjet printers are used to transfer designs to paper; the quality of the printer and the paper determines how accurate and precise designs you will get.
Selecting the best paper for print transfer is also necessary. Before buying or using the paper, make sure to know if it works on dark surfaces or not. Choose the transfer papers labeled as “opaque” for printing on dark surfaces.
Dye sublimation on darker surfaces is challenging, but with practice, it gets easier. Practical techniques and products allow you to sublimate on darker surfaces with the same ease as with other colored surfaces. The procedures and products detailed in this article are inexpensive, saving you money and time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What type of fabric is best for sublimation?
Cotton fabric is best for sublimation, especially when sublimating on dark fabric.
What temperature is appropriate for sublimation?
A temperature from 360 to 400 Fahrenheit is appropriate for sublimation. With this temperature range, the prints are effectively transferred. With less temperature, you will notice cracks in the prints.
What color fabric is best for sublimation?
White color fabric or surface with light shade is best for sublimation as the color prints on such surfaces are brilliant and much more noticeable. The darker surface, the harder it is to have identifiable prints, so you must use sharp colors.
How to protect prints from cracking and fading?
The fabric should be washed carefully with hands to make it last longer. When glitters are used for printing, you should be more careful handling the fabric. With more washing, more cracks are noticed as they are delicate. Washing them in a machine worsens them, making prints more prone to cracking.