How To Start Sublimation Printing?

You can start your sublimation printing business at home after buying the required material. However, to run a successful sublimation printing business, it is absolutely crucial for you to know about all the things you’ll need in the process.

So, today, we will break down the details of all the things you might need to start a successful sublimation printing business. mug

To make the process of understanding sublimation printing even easier, we will also guide you on how to start sublimation printing in easy steps at the end of this article. 

So make sure to check this article out to learn all the intricacies.

What is Sublimation Printing?

Before we get into discussing the things required for sublimation printing, let’s first find out what sublimation printing is. According to science, sublimation is the transformation of a solid into a gaseous state without undergoing the liquid form.

Sublimation printing or dye-sublimation printing involves the process of printing images, logos, designs, etc., onto a particular type of transfer paper.

The sublimation ink transforms the solid form of a digitally printed image into a gas. Later, when exposed to heat and a high temperature for a fixed time, the gas particles penetrate the object’s surface on which you want to print the graphic.

Dye-sublimation printing is one of the latest and preferred printing techniques as it produces excellent quality results. With the help of dye-sublimation printing, you can create durable designs quickly.

What Do You Need to Start Sublimation Printing?

So now that you know what sublimation printing is, let’s hop on straight into what things you need to start sublimation printing.

1. Sublimation Printer/Machine

The first thing you need to get your sublimation printing business up and about is a printer. A sublimation printer prints the chosen graphics/designs on a heat transfer foil/paper. This type of printing differs from inkjet or laser printing because they do not turn the image into a gas before printing.

How to start sublimation printing?

There are thousands of sublimation printers available in the market. You can choose the one that is a perfect fit for your designs.

You can get away with a small printer if you are just starting. However, if you plan on printing larger images, it will be better for you to go with a large sublimation printing machine.

It is entirely up to you to choose a big or small printer. However, whatever printer you get, it is recommended to go with the one that produces a high-quality print. Otherwise, the final result might disappoint you.

2. Sublimation Ink and Heat Transfer Paper

After you have bought a printer, the next thing you’ll need is sublimation ink. Sublimation ink is designed to ensure long-lasting and durable prints. If you don’t purchase good quality ink, you will notice that the printed design is not as pigmented and has a dull color.

Bad-quality sublimation ink will also leave a color residue and compromise the overall quality.

There are many heat transfer papers/sublimation papers available in the market. And although you might think you can get away with some cheaper options too, you will not be satisfied with the print quality.

The design will be first transferred to the heat transfer paper and then onto the object. So it’s vital to have a good quality sublimation paper.

It is recommended to have extra ink and paper on hand while printing a design so that you don’t run out of them amidst printing a design.

3. Heat Press

Another important thing you need for sublimation printing is a heat press. The design printed on the heat transfer paper can be smoothly printed onto the wanted object. You can use a home iron for printing smaller designs on fabrics and clothes if you don’t want to invest in a heat press.

But bear in mind, if you want to print graphics on ceramics or other larger objects, it would be more suitable for you to go for a heat press specifically designed for that purpose.

Heat presses are available in different sizes and shapes, so you can buy the one that will suit your type of work. If you intend on printing on t-shirts, hoodies, or other fabrics, a

4. Computer and Designing/Editing Software

For designing or editing a graphic, you’ll need a computer/laptop to keep your designs and then print them via the printer. You don’t need a heavy-duty computer for this process. However, the computer you’ll be using needs to be compatible with the editing software for the best experience.

You can find a ton of designing software on the internet and then use the one you are most comfortable with. Some of the best software preferred by digital artists and creators include Canva, Adobe Photoshop, Clip Art Studio, Illustrator, etc.

Additional Accessories You Need to Start Sublimation Printing

The main equipment used for sublimation printing has already been discussed above. However, you might also need a few other materials during the process. I will be enlisting those below along with their uses so that you know everything you might need during printing.

  • Sharp scissors – to help you properly cut the materials in required shapes.
  • Heatproof gloves help you lower the risk of burning your hands during work.
  • Heat–resistant tape keeps the heat transfer paper from moving while placing it in the heat press.
  • Silicon cover sheet – to stop the ink from bleeding onto the surface of the heat press.
  • Foam pillows – to avoid crease lines that might form on the fabric due to the pressure exerted by the heat press.
  • Measuring tape/Rulers – to get the exact measurements before cutting/printing the designs.

If you are starting a sublimation printing business these are the few additional supplies you should include in your sublimation business starter kit.

If you want to go pro all the way, you can also buy rubber pads, lint rollers, heat and humidity monitors, Nomex pads, etc. However, these supplies are entirely optional, and you can get away without spending extra bucks on them.

So these were the equipment needed for Sublimation, if you want to know more about sublimation, you can see our Sublimation Printing Guide.

How to Start Sublimation Printing? (8 Easy Steps)

Ever since sublimation printing made a successful debut in the industry, people have switched their old ways of printing and opted for sublimation printing. As mentioned earlier, this method is the most durable and fast drying because the graphics implanted on the objects are in a gaseous state.

The personalization business is in full swing, and it is probably the best time to start a sublimation printing business. It will grow massively by 2025. You can check the detailed statistical data here

If you are thinking of starting a home-based sublimation printing business, you might be wondering how to start sublimation printing.

You can start sublimation printing following these easy steps.

Step 1

First of all, determine the object you want to print the graphic.

Step 2

Select the design on your computer and send it to the sublimation printer.

Step 3

Check the ink level and insert sublimation paper into the printer.

Step 4

Once the print is out, take the object on which you want to print the graphic and place it on the heat press.

Step 5

Place the graphic image on top of the object and seal it in place with spray adhesive or heat-resistant tape.

Step 6

Let the object sit in the heat press for the recommended time and temperature.

Step 7

Next, take the object out of the heat press. 

Step 8

Carefully peel off the transfer paper, and your customized good is ready.

You might like this: The Best Way To Sublimate On Acrylic 


What do I need to start printing sublimation?

1. Sublimation Printer: Choose a printer specifically designed for sublimation printing, as it uses specialized inks and printing processes.
2. Sublimation Ink: Use sublimation-specific ink cartridges compatible with your printer model.
3. Heat Press: This is crucial for transferring the design from paper to the substrate (like fabric, metal, or ceramic) using heat and pressure.
4. Sublimation Paper: Specialized paper that holds the sublimation ink before it’s transferred onto the substrate.
5. Design Software: Use graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to create or edit your designs.
6. Substrates: These are the materials you’ll be printing on, such as polyester fabrics, ceramic mugs, metal plates, etc.
7. Protective Gear: Heat-resistant gloves and protective paper are essential for safe handling during the heat transfer process.
8. Workspace: Set up a dedicated workspace with proper ventilation and enough room for your equipment and materials.

Start with these essentials, and as you gain experience, you can expand your setup with additional tools and accessories to enhance your sublimation printing capabilities.

How much does it cost to start sublimation printing?

The cost to start sublimation printing typically ranges from $500 to $2,000, depending on equipment quality and quantity.

What substrates can I print on with sublimation?

Sublimation works best on polyester-based materials like fabrics, ceramic mugs, metal plates, and certain plastics.

Can I use any printer for sublimation printing?

No, sublimation printing requires a printer specifically designed for sublimation, as it uses specialized inks and printing processes

Final Thoughts

Sublimation printing is one of the most widely used forms of printing because of how fast and durable this process is. You need a sublimation printer, ink, heat transfer paper, heat press, and a computer/laptop, and you’ll be good to go.

There are a few other accessories that you might also need. However, most of them can be found in all homes. And even if you don’t have them, you can easily buy them at a stationery shop.

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