How to Use a Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts? Simple Guide

How to Use a Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts? Simple Guide

Thanks to sublimation printing, creating custom t-shirts with intricate designs or photographs is now easier than ever. This unique printing process uses heat and pressure to transfer dye onto fabric, resulting in long-lasting, vibrant designs. You must follow a few procedures to print t-shirts with a sublimation printer.

In this article, we’ll guide you through using a sublimation printer for t-shirts, from preparing your design to transferring the image onto your shirt. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and skills to create your personalized t-shirts using a sublimation printer. So let’s get started!

Choosing the Right T-Shirt

It’s important to note that sublimation printing works best on white or light-colored shirts because the ink is transparent and will not show up well in dark colors. Some white shirts from a particular brand may have a higher polyester content or a tag indicating they are suitable for sublimation printing. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure the shirt is pre-washed to remove any chemicals or residue that could interfere with the ink’s absorption.

You can check out our list of best t-shirt blanks you can choose for sublimation.

The Required Equipment

Printer Setting

To ensure brighter sublimation, specific printer settings need to be configured.

Firstly, the document size should match the substrate’s size. For example, if you are sublimating onto an 11×17 inch piece of paper, the document size should be 11×17 inches.

Next, selecting the correct paper source, quality, and color mode is important. For sublimation, the paper type should be set to sublimation paper, the quality should be set to high, and the color mode should be set to CMYK.

In addition, bi-directional printing should be selected to improve the quality and speed of the print. The image should be mirrored before printing to ensure the final design is not reversed.

How to Use a Sublimation Printer for T-Shirts

Follow these steps to carry out sublimation on t-shirts effectively.

Step 1. Select a Design.

Step 1-Select a Design

You will need a high-quality design to print on your t-shirt. It can be your business logo, a personalized design you created, or an image. But regardless of the purpose, your design should be of higher quality with high resolution and no blurs.

Step 2. Print the Design on Paper

Step 2- Print the Design on Paper

Once confident about the design, you must print it on paper. Here sublimation printer and paper are required. I recommend using sublimation paper rather than standard paper as it more effectively transfers prints on t-shirts under heat and pressure.

Print the design using the printer and sublimation paper. Ensure that the “mirror image” option is selected in the printer settings, as this will reverse the image for correct placement on the shirt.

Step 3. Transfer the Design to the T-Shirt

Step 3- Transfer the Design to the T-Shirt 

After printing, the prints rendered on the paper are transferred to the chosen shirt using a heat press. The press machine’s temperature and time only need to be set. The suggested temperature for 100% polyester shirts is 385 degrees Fahrenheit, so set the heat press at that setting.

Preheat the press for several minutes. Insert a piece of butcher paper inside the shirt to prevent the ink from bleeding. Use a lint roller to remove any debris or dust on the shirt. Place the sublimation paper on the shirt with the design facing down. Make sure the pattern is straight and in the middle. Fold the shirt in half or use an alignment tool if needed.

A second sheet of butcher paper should be placed on the sublimation paper. Light pressure should be applied for 30 seconds. Switch it off when the machine beeps after some time. 

Raise the heat press’s upper lid after the heat transmission is finished, and let it cool for a few minutes. Your personalized t-shirt is ready.


Using a sublimation printer for t-shirts is a cost-effective and efficient way to produce high-quality designs. Proper preparation and following the steps outlined in this guide can easily achieve stunning results that will last wash after wash. Say goodbye to the hassle of screen printing and start creating t-shirts that truly stand out.

We also cover the article on how to fix sublimation mistakes on a shirt.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is sublimation resistant to water?

Yes. The completed product has excellent waterproofing. Before going through the sublimation process, the ink is water-soluble, and when it is embedded in the fabric, it will not be affected.

What surfaces can be used for sublimation?

Other than polyester fabric, you can sublimate on porcelain, plastic, glass, and many other surfaces. The essential ingredient for this procedure is a piece of equipment known as a sublimation blank coated in a unique sealant made of polyester. The sublimation design can then be applied to that coating, which will adhere like polyester fabric.

Are sublimation shirts worth the price?

Sublimation efficiently produces gorgeous full-color graphics on t-shirts and is an inexpensive method. Although it is difficult to accurately measure investment and production as it varies and depends on many factors. However, the profit range is generally higher, considering the effort and investment in sublimation printing.

What kind of t-shirt is good for sublimation?

A shirt composed entirely of polyester works best for sublimation printing. The inks must adhere to polyester for the sublimation dye to function correctly. Prints on a shirt composed of a fabric blend, like polycotton, are frequently less bright and vivid.

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