To transfer the images by sublimation to an object you will need a sublimation printer in addition to a thermal plate. There are many models and brands of special printers for sublimation in the market, each with different characteristics and features. That's why we have made a very detailed guide to help you choose and buy your sublimation manhattan printing.
We will explain that it is a sublimation printer and that it differs from other conventional printers.
What is a sublimation printer?
A sublimation printer is a type of ink printer, which uses special inks, which are called sublimation inks and which are what make it possible to transfer the image to the object by sublimation, applying heat.
In order to perform sublimation, only inkjet or inkjet printers are used, specifically sublimation printers, which work by fixing the ink to the paper without applying heat. It is very important that the printer does not generate heat during printing to not activate the inks. Sublimation occurs when heat is applied with the iron on the inks, going from solid to gaseous state. In this process, the ink deposited on the paper is transferred to the object that we want to sublimate.
Keep in mind that to perform the sublimation you cannot use any inkjet printer, only those that are designed for sublimation are valid.
As an additional note, comment that to transfer a design by sublimation or transfer you need to print the drawing or mirror image.
The best cheap printer for sublimation
The Epson Drukarka L310 is a special inkjet printer for sublimation (it is a very versatile printer that you can use for other tasks). It is an A4 size printer that is ideal for small jobs; it is also light and very economical. The Epson Drukarka L310 sublimation printer has very good opinions of the users who bought it. Here we show you the best offer for this printer:
Differences between sublimation and transfer
Here we want to explain what are the differences between the sublimation process and the transfer and what applications each of the different processes have.
Sublimation consists of passing the ink of the paper through heat to the object that we want to sublimate. It is important to mention that the ink goes from solid to gaseous state to be able to fix on the object. Sublimation can only be done with special inks for sublimation.
In the process of the transfer, a laser printer is used (not ink) and by means of some special pigments that are fixed to the transfer paper and through the heat of the thermal plate the design or the image is transferred to the object.
To sublimate it is necessary that the object has a layer of polyester, that is why in the cotton t-shirts it is easier to transfer the images by transfer. Another point to keep in mind is that the objects to be sublimated have to be white, because if they have another color, the inks would be added to the color and it would not be the color that we are looking for.
Finally, it should be noted that the colors in the sublimation tend to be more intense than in the transfer (although if you have a good laser printer there is not much difference), and that the durability in sublimation is greater.
Inks for sublimation
Sublimation printers use a type of synthetic polymer ink, which has the ability to be fixed on a surface that has been enameled or has a polymeric surface (eg a cup or sublimation jar) by applying heat. To be able to carry out this sublimation process, it is essential that the objects that we are going to sublimate have a layer of transparent synthetic polypropylene paint or ink. That is why it is very important that the cups and other objects are special for sublimation.
The sublimation printers work with the four cartridges of basic colors (cyan, yellow, magenta and black), with which the full range of colors is achieved. We always recommend using the inks provided by the printer manufacturer, in this way we guarantee that the quality and color profile are maintained. In any case, when you buy the sublimation inks you have to look at the color profile they use to take it into account when printing.
There are printers that in addition to the basic colors use additional ones to get more real colors, like a light magenta or a light cyan.
Now that you know what a printer is to sublimate and what kind of inks they use, we will explain some factors that you have to take into account when choosing a sublimation printer.
We can divide the printers for sublimation in 3 sizes:
This is the right size if you are going to start in the world of sublimation, whether it is as a hobby or to sublimate small objects like cups. Although it seems small, look at the images that you can transfer with an A4 format (29.7cm x 21cm). You can make from cups to shirts or posters of small size.
There is a wide range of sublimation printers in A4 size; they are also the cheapest in the market.
In an A3 format (29.7cm x 42cm) you can sublimate a multitude of objects. If you are going to use the sublimation technique to make small or medium runs, it is an ideal size. Although in principle you are going to sublimate smaller objects, it is worth investing a little more in a printer in A3 format, in this way you will not be limited in the future and you will be able to carry out larger works.
Medium and large format: From size A2
This type of printers work using paper coil and are suitable for larger productions, mainly because they can print faster.
Keep in mind that most commercial thermal plates do not support sizes larger than A3, so depending on the plate you have; you will need a guillotine or shear to cut the paper and adapt it to the size of the plate.
The best brands of sublimation printers
It is advisable to invest in a printer of a good brand, because this way you ensure that you are buying a quality product and that you will offer a guarantee.
In the market we can find many models and brands of sublimation printers. This wide variety makes it sometimes difficult to find which the best printer for our needs is.
Among the best brands of sublimation printers with great experience and quality we can mention Epson, Ricoh and Brother.
Before buying your printer, it is very important that you read the opinions of the people who bought it. Epson sublimation printers have a lot of opinions and all of them very positive. This is because Epson manufactures sublimation printers that are very well valued in the market.
Do you want to know what price a sublimation printer has?
The cheapest printers are around € 130, which is very economical to start in the world of sublimation. They are printers in A4 that offer an acceptable quality.
If you are thinking of buying a model with better features and in A3 format, the price is somewhat higher. For about € 500 - € 600 you can get A3 sublimation printers that offer you excellent quality.