What You Should Know About Heat Pressing on Dye Sublimated Fabrics

 What is Dye Sublimation?

Most polyester fabrics, such as many of the popular “Performance Garments”, are dyed using a sublimation process. The dye sublimation process uses high heat to permanently fuse   the colorant   into a polyester fabric.

Heat serves two critical functions in this dying process.  First, the heat causes the pores of the polyester fabric to open up, so the material can accept the dye.  And second, the heat converts the solid ink dye on a transfer sheet into a gas.

Under pressure of the heat press, the gaseous dye is forced into the open pores of the polyester.  As the temperature drops, the pores close up capturing the dye inside of the bonds to the substrate.

The sublimated color is very durable because the dye becomes an integral   part of the fabric, rather than a colorant on the outside of the fibers of the fabric, which can bleed and fade.  Sublimated fabrics can be washed again and again, without losing the vibrancy of its color.

Dye Migration Can Discolor Heat Transfer Appliques

There’s one slight catch, though. When you heat press an applique onto a sublimated garment, the high heat can release the dye in the fabric.  These dyes can then migrate and discolor a heat transfer vinyl applique.

Discoloration resulting from dye migration does not occur immediately. Instead it is a gradual process, which may take as long as 72 hours to occur.  For example, a white applique heat pressed onto a black sublimated garment is likely to turn grey over time.

Heat Transfer Films with an Anti-Migration Layer

To prevent discoloration, many of our SEF heat transfer films incorporate ourSubliBlock (SBB) blocking layer.  These products incorporate a second layer of  film, which blocks dye migration. While this second layer adds to the thickness of the applique, it is much more effective in preventing discoloration compared to other products, which utilize adhesive additives to perform the blocking function.

SEF heat transfer films, which incorporate  SubliBlock include:

  • FlexCut Sticky SubliBlock, a polyurethane film for plotter cutting.
  • Tatoo SubliBlock, a digitally printable polyurethane film.
  • FiberPlus SubliBlock, a polyester flock film for dye sublimation printing.

About Heat Press Machines for Heat Transfer Vinyl

Selling heat transfer appliques to your existing customer base is a great way to increase your shop’s sales at high profit margins without a lot of effort.  The manufacturing process is not very complicated, so there is not much to learn. What you will need is a good heat press machine. Hotronix is one of the best brands on the market. Here are  some of their best selling models: