Both polyester and nylon garments are in demand for their favorable properties. However, nylon is slightly ahead in the race because of its durable and stretchy material. But can you sublimate on nylon in such a way that it surpasses polyester’s ability to retain vivid and long-lasting designs?
Well, it clearly can’t beat polyester because of being highly heat sensitive. And it’s impossible to transfer the printed image without applying adequate heat on the substrate. Even if it happens, the design wouldn’t be much bright, and you might observe dull or missing colors in multiple areas.
Luckily, you can outdo this challenge by following a simple trick shared in this article. Keep reading if you want to transform your boring nylon wardrobe into something quirky without putting the fabric at risk of scorching.
Is Sublimation Possible on Nylon Fabric?
A clear answer to “Can you sublimate on nylon” is yes. But, of course, you can’t follow the typical sublimation process considering the fabric’s heat sensitivity. Instead, you need to lower the temperature while heat-pressing the design onto a nylon blank.
Note: Although you can sublimate on pure nylon or its blend with other materials, nothing can offer as bright and long-lasting prints as poly-coated nylon. So, consider applying a thin covering of this material to create designs that last for years to come.
Can Nylon be Heat Pressed?
Nylon can potentially be heat-pressed without any consequences but not at the usual temperature. Since it’s a thermoplastic material, you must decrease the settings to at least 275 degrees Fahrenheit (135° Celsius) for the surface’s safety.
However, in this scenario, the fabric’s thickness also plays a vital role. If the substrate material is thicker, increasing the temperature by 3 to 5 Fahrenheit wouldn’t do any harm. Moreover, you should also be careful of the applied pressure. Heat press with medium force to avoid any unfavorable occurrence.
Best Nylon Type for Sublimation
Nylon is a versatile fabric that comes in different types with slightly varying properties. Although you can sublimate on all types using lower temperatures, Nylon 6 and Nylon 66 are used the most in the textile industry. Therefore, you should try your sublimating hobby on these types, considering their availability in the market.
Comparing both, it might be more difficult to color Nylon 66, but it has a higher melting point, i.e., 268 degrees Celsius, making it more suitable for heat pressing during sublimation. In comparison, Nylon 6 has a melting point of 214 degrees Celsius.
How Can You Sublimate on Nylon?
You need to follow some exclusive steps to sublimate on a nylon surface successfully. Refer to the below step-by-step guide regarding how can you sublimate nylon for a better understanding of the process.
Before you start the process, ensure you’ve gathered all the materials required to attempt the sublimation smoothly. Some of the things you need include:
- Sublimation printer, ink, and paper
- Nylon substrate
- Heat-resistant tape
- Heat press
- Butcher paper
Steps to Sublimate Nylon
Step 1: Prepare the Nylon Substrate
The first step of nylon sublimation includes preparing the surface for the process. You can do so by following a few easy guidelines. For example, if the nylon fabric is used, wash it in warm water to restore its shine.
Furthermore, it’s important to iron it at low temperatures because any wrinkles on the surface can interfere with the process. This also helps the material to dry quickly.
Step 2: Apply Sublimation Adhesive and Polyester Coating
Spray a high-quality sublimation adhesive solution all over the substrate. Then, give it adequate time to dry before you proceed to the next step. In the case of using pure nylon, you need to coat the substrate with a polyester solution, too, so the fabric soaks in maximum ink, leading to a durable design.
Step 3: Print your Design
Meanwhile, as the coating dries, you can print the custom design that you want to transfer to the fabric. Make sure you’re using high-quality sublimation ink, or the image will fade after only a few washes. Along with this, you should use a high-quality printer with inkjet technology to ensure the printed design is vivid.
Step 4: Tape the Sublimation Paper on Nylon Fabric
Once your image is ready, it’s time to tape it upside down on the area where you want the design to be transferred. Ensure to use only heat-resistant tape for this purpose.
Step 4: Turn on the Heat Press Machine
In the next step, turn on the heat press and set the temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit (135° Celsius). However, this can vary according to the type of nylon you use, for which you may refer to the temperature limit stated by the fabric’s manufacturer.
If not, go with the above temperature, as it can bring out the best results without scorching the material or melting the dye.
Step 5: Heat Press the Design on the Substrate
Finally, place butcher paper on the heat press and stack it with the nylon blank with the substrate facing upwards. Start pressing the fabric and continue the process for 15 seconds. Don’t apply extra pressure, as this can leave burn marks on the nylon.
Once done, get the image off the substrate by slowly peeling the tape to reveal a high-quality design that has been transferred successfully on the fabric.
Factors to Consider While Sublimating Nylon
Sublimation on nylon can offer ideal outcomes with prints that last longer without fading. But to achieve this, you must take a few things into consideration, including:
If you’re working with 100% nylon fabric, it’s better to add an additional coat of polyester to the substrate. However, this isn’t necessary, as nylon can also be sublimated without it. But with this step, the ink can properly penetrate inside the fabric to ensure the printed design lasts long, even after multiple washes.
The design you choose for sublimation must align with the fabric’s color. It’s always better to go for a lighter shade of nylon, so the image looks bright instead of giving a dull impression.
The heat press’s temperature must be optimal, ranging from 180°F to 275°F (82.22°C to 135°C). If higher, the fabric would burn, spoiling the entire nylon blank. Conversely, a low temperature wouldn’t produce as much heat as needed for transferring the image onto the substrate.
Make sure the ink settings of the printer is around 100% to 150%, or else it wouldn’t print a vibrant design. Contrarily, if you surpass these figures, the image will soak up extra ink, leading to bleeding on the fabric once you heat-press it.
Tips to Transfer High-Quality Images on Nylon Through Sublimation
Although the above-mentioned guide is sufficient to help you get the most out of nylon for sublimation, here are a few additional tips to achieve the best results.
- Ensure your sublimation printer’s printing head is clean before you give the print command. Dust or debris on the head can reflect in the printed image, lowering the quality of its appearance.
- You should use only heat-resistant tape to stick the image onto the substrate, or else the paper will move or shift during the sublimation process, leading to a distorted outcome.
- Never use temperatures over 275° Fahrenheit (135° Celsius) or apply extraordinary pressure while heat pressing. Nylon is a heat-sensitive fabric that can easily get scorched upon receiving high thermal levels.
Nylon is a lightweight and durable fabric with its strength surpassing even that of polyester. However, it couldn’t get ahead of its rival in terms of sublimation, as polyester is still the most favorable material for this process.
But this does not mean that you can not use it for sublimation at all. So how can you sublimate on nylon? The answer is simple by just lowering the temperatures. It makes it possible to transfer vivid designs on this substrate without any unique requirements.
Is nylon better than polyester for sublimation?
Polyester is the best fabric for sublimation, thanks to its durability and high heat resistivity. In comparison, nylon may not be able to endure as much heat for transferring digital prints on its surface. Still, you can lower the temperature to make this material sublimation-friendly.
What nylon items can you sublimate on?
Sublimation can work on almost all the items made from nylon, only if you follow the right techniques. These items include shirts, bags, backpacks, banners, sports jerseys, mouse pads, socks, etc.
Can I sublimate on water-resistant nylon?
Yes, you can sublimate on water-resistant fabric, but only after applying a nylon catalyst on the substrate. Its glue-like properties help ink particles bind with the surface strongly, which might not be possible otherwise. Moreover, you can also use rubbing alcohol to remove the waterproof coating from the image-transferring area of the material.