Sublimation on Rayon: Complete Guide For Vibrant Colors


Last updated on May 12th, 2023

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Sublimation printing undoubtedly brings out the best results on polyester fabric. But have you ever wondered about other possibilities, like sublimation on rayon to produce similarly stunning prints? Since rayon is semi-synthetic material containing wood pulp, it would be wrong to have high expectations from it. 

The heat press from sublimation can burn, melt, or scorch the fiber and even if you surpass this challenge, the printed image wouldn’t be as durable to last longer. A single wash and it would start scraping out, putting all your efforts in vain. 

The good news is that you can avoid all these challenges by implementing a smart trick, which we will discuss soon in this article, so you can conveniently print vibrant images on this unique material. 

can you do sublimation on rayon?


Can I Sublimate on Rayon?

As a hobbyist, you may want to try sublimating your favorite designs onto rayon’s soft and durable fabric. However, it is not as simple as doing so on polyester because rayon’s melting point is much lesser than this synthetic material. That’s why it’s more prone to scorching and might not bind the ink as firmly, leading the design to disappear after one or two washes. 

However, it doesn’t mean you can’t sublimate this material at all. Yes, it’s possible to transfer vibrant and long-lasting prints onto rayon as well by following either of the two ways: 

  • Apply polyester coating on rayon garments to prevent burn marks during the heat press.
  • Use a t-shirt with a blend of high polyester and low rayon count if you find the above method time-consuming.

In both scenarios, you aren’t using 100% rayon, as this material alone isn’t powerful enough to retain high heat. Rayon’s wooden pulp composition will weaken as you apply temperatures above 150 degrees, while 250 degrees is the fabric’s burning point. Hence, even if you try to sublimate it, you will only end up with a spoiled garment.

Why Some Rayons Sublimate and Others Don’t?

Rayon is such a fabric that lacks a set standard of composition; hence every manufacturer has different preferences. For example, one brand may use higher amounts of wood pulp while another brand will add more polymer into their garments. 

This differentiation can even happen within different batches of the same manufacturer. That’s why you might be able to achieve perfect results on one t-shirt while completely fail during sublimating another. 

Does Sublimation Work on Rayon’s Blend with Spandex and Cotton?

There are several materials that can be sublimated perfectly, but rayon, spandex, and cotton, all three, fall outside that category. Therefore, irrespective of their composition, you can not print designs on shirts having a blend of these fabrics. Even if you manage to transfer the image, it will not last long and vanish after the first wash. 

Can you Sublimate on 95% Rayon 5% Spandex Garments?

Sublimation is not possible without heat-pressing the design on the substrate. Therefore, the fabric must possess enough heat-bearing capacity and should not scorch during the process.

Unfortunately, both rayon and spandex have low melting points, which means these materials can’t endure the heat required for sublimation. Therefore, irrespective of the composition, a blend of these two materials, rayon and spandex, isn’t suitable for transferring custom designs via sublimation. 

You may refer to this table to understand better which fabric blend is suitable for sublimation. 

Material/Composition Can it sublimate well?
100% Rayon No 
70% polyester, 30% RayonYes
87% polyester, 10% rayon, 3% spandexYes
50% polyester, 25% cotton, 25% rayonNo
47% cotton, 47% rayon, 6% spandexNo 
50% cotton, 50% rayonNo 
95% rayon, 5% spandex No 

How Can I Sublimate on Rayon?

The only way to sublimate a shirt or any other garment made of pure rayon is to coat it with polyester, which can be done the following way.

Required Materials 

Here are some materials that you will need to sublimate on rayon: 

  • Rayon garment 
  • Desizer concentrate and polyester coating spray 
  • Water 
  • Measuring jar and spray bottle
  • Sublimation printer 
  • Printed transfer and butcher paper 
  • Cardboard and silicon mat 
  • Heat press machine

Steps to Sublimate on Rayon

Follow the below steps for a successful sublimation on rayon.  

Step 1: Prepare the Desizer Solution 

For this, you need to mix 7 ounces of Desizer concentrate with one part water in a bowl. Then, pour the solution into a spray bottle and shake it well.  

Step 2: Spray the Desizer Solution on Rayon Substrate 

Spritz the solution over the area you want to sublimate. It’s important to saturate it completely, which you can ensure by touching the fabric. If it’s wet enough, you can proceed to the next step. 

Step 3: Use a Heat Press 

Wrap the rayon garment with a dry cotton cloth and heat press it at 385 degrees for 35 seconds. Keep pressing until you spot steam coming out of the machine. 

Step 4: Prepare the Polyester Solution 

Just as with the Desizer concentrate, take 7 ounces of a high-quality Poly T solution in a bowl and mix it with 1 ounce of water. Transfer the prepared solution into a sprayer to proceed. 

Step 5: Coat Polyester over the Rayon Garment 

Spray the Poly T solution on the t-shirt’s region, which you saturated earlier with the Desizer solution. You can use cardboard to create borders and spray carefully inside them to ensure coating of the entire print area. 

Step 6: Let the Fabric Dry 

Fold the fabric and press tightly where you sprayed the polyester solution so it penetrates inside the rayon fabric. Now unfold and hand dry it. You can also use a hot dryer to quicken this process.

Step 7: Heat Press Rayon and Apply Another Poly Coat Layer

To finalize the first poly coat, you must heat press it for 10 seconds at 385 degrees. Make sure to cover the region with butcher paper to avoid burning the fabric. Apply a second polyester coat, dry, and heat press the fabric again for a few seconds. 

Step 8: Sublimate the Printed Image onto the Rayon Substrate 

For sublimation on rayon, place the printed transfer and butcher paper on the pre-treated area of the rayon garment. Also, place a silicon mat under it to prevent any unwanted burning marks. The mat should be larger than the design’s size. 

Step 9: Heat Press the Design 

Sublimate the custom image on the t-shirt with a heat press for at least a minute at 385 degrees. Once you are done, remove the butcher paper and printed transfer slowly from the corners. Your shiny rayon garment with a bright print is ready to impress your customers. 

Wrapping Up 

“Is sublimation on rayon possible?”; it is one of the common questions that arise in the mind of both hobbyists and printing business owners considering the material’s advantages in terms of quality and price. However, it’s nearly impossible to do so unless you coat the printing region on this fabric with polyester, a widely preferred sublimation material.

In addition, you can even opt for garments that blend rayon and polyester, combining the shine and softness of rayon with polyester’s ability to retain ink dye and print bright and colorful designs.


Which material is perfect for sublimation?

Polyester is an ideal material to get the best sublimation printing outcomes. Upon heat press, its pores open up quickly, allowing an easy passage for ink absorption. The dye then binds firmly with the fabric once it cools down to create vibrant, long-lasting prints.

Can you heat press rayon and spandex?

Since rayon and spandex are sensitive, a heat press can leave burn marks on the material. However, you can avoid this by applying lesser temperatures. Moreover, using a pressing cloth can also help prevent the scorching of the textile. 

Can you sublimate on a polyester rayon shirt?

Although pure polyester is preferred for sublimation, its blend with other materials like rayon can also produce stunning and durable outcomes. However, polyester should not fall short of its minimum standard (65%), or the material would burn or print designs that disappear after a few washes. 

Image Source: Pixabay

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