What Paper Is Used For Sublimation Printing?


Last updated on December 20th, 2022

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Sublimation printing is a digital printing method that uses heat to transfer a certain design. It allows for printing on various textiles including cotton, lycra, and polyester.

If you want to find out what paper is used for sublimation printing, this article will answer all your sublimation paper-related questions.


What Type of Paper is Used for Sublimation Printing?

sublimation paper

Sublimation printing requires a special kind of paper called sublimation paper, which is exclusive to this particular printing technique. It consists of a paper substrate covered with a special coating that includes silica (about 35%) and a binder (about 5%).

The purpose of the added coating is to store dye ink until sublimation. The exact ratio of its components depends on the paper’s weight when dry.

How does Printing with Sublimation Paper Work?

In sublimation printing, there’s no liquid used at any point during the process. Heat transforms the solid ink on the sublimation paper directly to a gas.

Heat is also applied to poly fibers to force their pores to expand. While open, the pores allow the gas to enter and fuse to the fabric.

Then, the gas ink transforms back to solid, so it forms one structure with the fibers instead of just being a printed layer on top.

The used fabrics are recommended to be at least 85% poly because poly fibers are the ones with heat-expandable pores that open to hold the dye.

If you use a fabric with less than 85% poly, the colors will come out a bit faded, which makes for a vintage look. You can also use sublimation paper to print on solid surfaces as long as it’s poly-coated.

Is Sublimation Paper and Heat Transfer Paper the Same?

Although the two techniques share many similarities, the paper used in each one is different. Unlike heat transfer paper, sublimation paper embeds the ink into the fibers of the fabric instead of depositing a layer on top.

What Makes a Good-Quality Sublimation Paper?

Several factors make for a good-quality sublimation paper including:

  • Handles color well
  • Has a quick drying time
  • Has high structural durability
  • Compatible with various printers

Can You Use Sublimation Paper More than Once?

No, you can’t reuse sublimation paper more than once.

Can You Use Regular Ink to Print on Sublimation Paper?

regular printer ink cartridges

So, can you use regular ink to print on sublimation paper? Well, you can certainly try, but it won’t work no matter the design you attempt to print. This is because sublimation paper is made in a way that holds in the gas released by the sublimated ink.

On the other hand, regular ink and sublimation paper aren’t compatible with each other. If you try to use them together, the ink will smear off the sheet.

After all, it doesn’t make sense to print with ink that sticks to paper when your goal is to transfer a design onto fabric.

What Printers Can You Use with Sublimation Paper?

Not all printers are built to accommodate the sublimation printing process, so you should make sure that your printer is compatible with this technique if you’re planning to use sublimation paper for printing.

First, we have printers advertised as sublimation units. These are specifically made for sublimation printing and are bought because of it.

Second, there are Inkjet printers with a sublimation printing feature. These are usually the more expensive models, not the budget options. Either way, you can make sure by checking the specs of your particular printer.

Finally, some workforce printers may be sublimation-compatible.

Find out here exactly what printers you can and can’t use for sublimation printing.

Wrap Up

The paper used for sublimation printing is specially made to lock in ink and allow it to sublime from solid to gas to fuse with fibers of poly fabrics.

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Tommy S.

With more than ten years of experience in the field, I am an avid printing enthusiast who has been captivated by the realm of printing since a young age. The possibilities for creativity and innovation that it presents have always intrigued me.

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