Dye-sublimation printing and Polyester Urethane coating have been a hot topic in the garment printing industry. Even though these fabric printing techniques are relatively common, many individuals are still unfamiliar with the procedure. Let’s go through what these techniques are and how sublimation printing and polyurethane coating may transform your fabric’s appearance.
The Sublimation Printing Process
Sublimation is a process that uses heat-sensitive inks to create printed images. When heated, these inks transform into a gas and mix with a polyester medium. Despite repeated washings, pictures on the fabric do not fade or split since the ink has become part of the fabric’s structure.
Sublimation printing fundamentally combines ink and cloth via the application of heat. To start, a design is printed onto a unique kind of paper. When the inks are heated, they convert into gas, which combines with the cloth and permanently imprints its design. There are no repercussions, and the results are long-lasting. The ink is infused instead of just printing on the cloth or substrate.
In a way, it is like getting a tattoo for your clothes instead of your skin. It takes a lot of heat and pressure to get the ink into the fabric’s pores and back to a solid shape. In the end, you will get a long-lasting full-color picture that will not crack, peel, or wash away. There is a similarity between dry ice and this method. The ink may transition from solid to a gaseous state without becoming liquid. Heat and pressure work together to start the conversion process. However, you can also use the permanent fabric paint pens, which are easy to use, and you can draw outlines and create details with them.
Ingredients for Sublimation
- Sublimation coating solution
- Heat press
- Cotton batting
- Special design paper
- Mix sublimation coating solution with water in a 1:3 ratio.
- Shake the mixture well.
- Preheat the heat press to 160 C.
- Cut the cotton batting according to the size.
- Spray the solution until it is properly wet.
- Put your desired design paper on your cloth and then the batting paper.
- You can also use the fabric paint pen mentioned above to mark your desired area.
- Then respray the solution.
- After that, put your heat-press over the papers for 30 seconds (160 C).
If necessary, spray some water and use the heat press again (195 C).
- Heat until the cloth is completely dry.
- Carefully remove the papers.
- And, you are done.
Advantages of Sublimation
Using sublimation printing cloths has several advantages.
Sublimation printing does not need different screens, films, or a large amount of setup. However, even if you need to refine your art, the rest of the procedure is fundamental.
Prints made using sublimation are never heavy or thick because of the process’s unique nature. Except for the inclusion of your artwork, the garment remains identical throughout the process. Sublimated uniforms, on the other hand, are far more lightweight. You will not feel the dried ink and weaves and threads of the pattern as it becomes part of the cloth itself, making it much more comfortable for them!
Applying particular customization to each printed item is significantly simpler when using this technique.
A sublimated print will not break or peel and will endure for the life of the garment. So, you can enjoy the exquisite quality and clarity of the printed pattern and colors throughout the whole lifespan of the fabric.
Now that we know about sublimation and its advantages let us learn about Polyester Urethane (PU).
What is Polyester Urethane (PU)?
Polyurethane is applied to a fabric’s surface, and it is frequently referred to as “poly-coating,” although PU coating. For the sake of this definition, the polymer is a synthetic material manufactured from petroleum byproducts, which is what polyurethane is.
The best way to prevent damage to the fabric is with a PU coating. Polyester, nylon, cotton, and leather have PU coatings on one side that operate as a foundation material. Typically, it is put on one side of the material as a protective layer.
PU-coated fabrics are lighter, more water-resistant, and more pliable. When just one side of the fabric has a PU coating, it is referred to as a single-coated fabric. However, when applied to both surfaces, it can also be multi-coated.
In other cases, polyester is coated with polyurethane, and Polyblend material is often heat-laminated. Many industries use polyurethane fabrics. In the same way as sportswear and pet goods firms utilize them, so do pharmaceutical and diaper companies.
More about Polyester Urethane (PU)
These coatings are often utilized to attain hydrostatic head values above 10,000 mm. This makes PU perfect for situations where the fabric is subjected to a lot of stress, making it an excellent choice for upholstery.
In addition, PU coatings penetrate between the yarns and hold them in place, reducing slippage and decreasing the material’s tear strength. However, as a result, the cloth is more prone to breakage due to increased tension.
Polyurethane-coated fabrics are somewhat weaker than their uncoated counterparts. As long as they contact water, polyurethane (PU) coatings are hydrophilic. It takes a long time for water to permeate into PU, making it an effective waterproofing coating.
Let us pretend there is plenty of moisture in the air. As a result, water will seep into and through the PU coating, causing the coated cloth to leak. Therefore, you should take extra precautions to ensure that it is completely dry before storing it for longer than a few days.
The benefits of applying a PU coating to cloth are many. We will go over some of the advantages of PU coating on the fabric to better understand how beneficial it can be.
Easy To Clean
Fabric made of polyurethane is one of the most long-lasting options for upholstery. As a result of its moisture-blocking properties, it is a popular choice. Soap and water are all that is needed to get rid of stains. For PU coatings on solvent-resistant fabrics, dilute bleach or other spirits with water.
Suppose you use stronger chemicals, such as acetone or vinegar. In that case, you risk damaging the material and making it seem stained and messy. Most PU-coated fabric goods come with instructions on how to keep them clean. If you do not follow the care recommendations carefully, you risk ruining the fabric.
The dry polyurethane technique is environmentally friendly. Polyurethane fabric does not require solvents, and it does not generate dangerous pollutants due to its manufacturing process. However, PVC and other compounds similar to polyurethane are not biodegradable.
The PU coating on cloth does not need the same chemicals as chloride. High heat levels are no problem for the material since it is sturdy, resilient, and waterproof. Polyurethane (PU) is perfect for applications such as life vests since it reduces the amount of waste. In addition, PU can be used for longer periods than other materials.
Now that you understand how sublimation works, what PU is, let us know about the best fabrics for sublimation.
Best Fabrics for Sublimation
Here are some of the best fabrics you can use for sublimation.
Cotton is not the best choice for dye sublimation because of its porous nature. It is an outright disaster. Since cotton’s inherent fibers do not firmly link with colors in sublimation ink, it is uncommon to see dye-sublimation ink utilized on cotton. Pressing a cotton-based substrate with your patterns is possible, but the ink will wash away very instantly. There are no lasting linkages between the colors in your ink and cotton fibers, and the ink will wash off reasonably quickly.
The best substrate for transferring your designs is polyester and polyester mixes. Using sublimation printing, you can get photo-like results by using dyes compatible with polyester molecules. In addition, poly-blends may have several benefits over 100% polyester fabrics, such as being more pleasant to wear and lasting longer in the washing machine.
However, you may face light or uneven transfers when employing poly mixes. For example, if you use sublimation inks on 100% polyester fabric, just a fraction of the material will be sublimated. In this case, your design will not entirely transfer to the cloth if you are using a low polyester count fabric. A minimum of 40% polyester content is recommended for most fabrics.
Nylon, Spandex, and Lycra
Blended fabrics incorporating nylon, lycra, spandex, and many other materials like rayon are used in the industry. The most important thing to keep an eye on while working with these particular mixes is to make sure that you are not burning the components.
Often, synthetic fibers burn more slowly than natural fibers. As a result, the cloth can shift form and distort pictures imprinted on when you burn the material. It can even limit the amount of air that passes through the cloth to make matters worse.
By using sublimation printing, full-color prints on polyester can be made at the lowest cost and highest efficiency. It is impossible to achieve the same results using other screen-printing, heat transfer, or embroidery methods. The best thing is that sublimation printing is more eco-friendly. So, use this technology in your graphic design or Apparel Company and reap the rewards.