Let me guess… you probably got the best printer, papers, and inks. Even your heat press is exceptional. Followed the sublimation instructions: get the print on the shiny side of the sublimation paper, adhere it to the substrate you want to sublimate, and heat it at a high temperature. Still, your sublimation looks less vibrant, your designs are messy, and you just didn’t get the “finish.” Gotcha! The problem isn’t you but your lack of knowledge about sublimation tips and tricks, which is exactly what I’ve brought up in this article.
Other than having accurate results, I’ve seen many sublimators having constant issues with this new printing technology. Every time on my blogs, there’s someone stuck with either their printer not working, their design has rough colors, their expense is getting too high, ink ending like a bullet out of a gun, prints ghosting, design washing away, and so much that I lost count of. So, I thought, no more individual counseling–here is my secret recipe for sublimation tips. Get a read, and you’ll never run into sublimation issues.
- 1 Top 10 Sublimation Tips Every Sublimator Should Know
- 1.1 1. Sync your monitor’s color to ICC profile settings:
- 1.2 2. Store Sublimation Papers in a Dry and Covered Box:
- 1.3 3. Always use Regular Paper for Nozzle Check:
- 1.4 4. Hat Press Accessories:
- 1.5 5. Install Cooking Range Extractor over a heat press for an eco-friendly environment:
- 1.6 6. Always pre-iron and lint roll the substrate before pressing:
- 1.7 7. Don’t Peel Off the Wrap Entirely at One Time:
- 1.8 8. Always use heat-resistant tape to secure your substrate:
- 1.9 9. Use Butcher Paper One Time Only:
- 1.10 10. Do a trial before sublimating the actual substrate:
- 2 Now You’re Good to Go!
Top 10 Sublimation Tips Every Sublimator Should Know
Well, I agree that sublimation, indeed, is an easy process, but when you’re new, there are some secret and expert sublimation tips you need to help you through. Even I have been sublimating for years, some of which I discovered years later. So, it depends on how much you’re open to learning because sublimation always has something new to offer, and it never fails to surprise you!
And yes, I won’t start my tips with getting the right equipment because that’s what everyone’s saying. I know most 95% of you must have the best sublimation printer, press, and all of its accessories. What you lack is the correct usage and secondary things that no one tells you to look into. So your first tip is:
1. Sync your monitor’s color to ICC profile settings:
This is the number one loophole of inaccurate colors of sublimation prints. Your monitor has RGB settings, and the printer works on CMYK. And about the ICC profile setting? You never really cared about downloading the file, understanding shades, and applying it to your software. I was you when I first bought a sublimation printer from Sawgrass, and I was never a techy guy until my bright red apple looked like it got rusted.
This frustration brought me to download and install the ICC profile on my PC; trust me, it was incredibly effortless. You have to access the control panel, head to appearance and personalization, choose the display, and then choose screen resolution. When the pop-up appears, click on the advanced setting at the bottom right, and here choose color management. The printer will show you the option to install and apply the ICC profile setting here, and you’ve to click add. That’s it.
This is the endgame of any wrong color. The print will be the same color as the monitor screen. Also, every ink and printer has a different ICC profile package that comes with them. For example, if you have a Hiipoo ICC profile and have changed it to Cosmos, you need Cosmos’ ICC profile to be downloaded to match the shades and contrast. That means if you replace the ink or printer, download its own file. The previous version will continue with the same errors as before.
2. Store Sublimation Papers in a Dry and Covered Box:
Buying the best quality sublimation papers isn’t enough. As soon as you open the package, the quality is on how you keep the paper, which means you can’t store them openly. Not even in the paper tray of your printer. Got triggered? I heard you screaming: that’s where the papers are supposed to keep.” Calm down. You’re right… only if your tray is clean, dust-free, and has no moisture. Even if the tray is clean and dry, make sure your papers are well covered.
If your paper has moisture, dust, or a little lint, forget about a clear print. The paper won’t be printed in true colors, and guess what? You won’t even know in the start because sublimation paper already has light colors before they’re pressed against the substrate. And now, when you’ll heat it, the substrate doesn’t look as you’d have imagined in your head. I bet you’d have blamed the printer, paper, press, or your luck, while the actual evil, all along, was you that missed the basic: protecting the sublimation paper.
3. Always use Regular Paper for Nozzle Check:
This is my no. 1 hack to regulate my expense. The nozzle check is a routine of every sublimator. You’d either never thought of checking it with regular paper or were too busy to take out sublimation paper and feed regular ones. Again, your laziness will plan your funeral. Here’s the estimate.
3 quality sublimation costs $0.28, and regular costs $0.02 per paper. The difference might look very minor, but when you estimate a bulk, you’d know how expensive everything gets. E.g., 200 sublimation sheets cost $56, and regular sheets in the same quantity comes at $4.
4. Hat Press Accessories:
Tell me, what have you thought when reading heat press accessories? Butcher paper? Heat-resistant tapes? Gloves? Well, it’s just 60% of that. You also need a heat-conductive rubber pad that goes on the bottom of the heat press. This is for nylon, HTV, and similar substrates.
For shirts, I prefer Vapor Foam Kit. The foam puts pressure on the shirt and helps reduce sublimation lines. It also enhances colors and vibrancy. This is what industries use to get perfectly sublimated fabrics. There are also Nomex pads that help achieve 100% results for mugs, tumblers, and bottle sublimation.
On the downside, this seems a totally extra expense that you’d not bear at the moment, considering you’re a pure beginner. However, if you plan to turn your hobby into a business, heat press accessories are essential to provide consistent quality to your customers.
5. Install Cooking Range Extractor over a heat press for an eco-friendly environment:
Per your manufacturers’ instructions, you’d have kept the sublimation printer in a well-ventilated area. However, the printer isn’t the only equipment that needs this attention. Just like a sublimation printer needs adequate temperature for functioning, a heat press ruins your temperature and makes it hard for “you” to function.
Puns aside, the heat press produces fumes and smells, especially when sublimating neoprene. So it’s crucial to install a cooking range extractor over the heat press. After all, we’ve to keep the environment friendly!
6. Always pre-iron and lint roll the substrate before pressing:
I’m sure you missed that one. Lint-rolling and pre-pressing also play a crucial role in making your design clear and ghost-free. Even if it doesn’t feel like your substrate is plain and clear, there is always debris, unseen fabric puffs, and threads. Plus, wrinkles are always there. So, make sure to do this step before pressing.
7. Don’t Peel Off the Wrap Entirely at One Time:
Don’t get too excited after pressing. Wait for 5 minutes and slightly peel off 1 inch from the corner. See if the colors are vibrant and bright, then peel off the paper completely. An inch will tell you if the substrate needs further heating. If you peel off the entire paper at one time, you’ll need to re-adhere the paper, and it won’t stay in the same place as before, and you’ll have a wholly ghosted sublimated substrate.
8. Always use heat-resistant tape to secure your substrate:
Believe it or not, the design gets moving when it’s pressed. The press and temperature are too much for your paper to stay in one position. Heat-resistant tape ensures your design will stay put in one position, and there’ll be no air and page creases during pressing.
9. Use Butcher Paper One Time Only:
Sounds like a turn-off? Yeah, same. I didn’t even follow this tip in the start, but after at least 3 months of sublimation, I started feeling like my prints were linked with previous prints. My new prints carried my previous ones inside them with a slight vision. This was the most confusing thing I came across, and it must, as well, for you.
This is because when you press your substrate wrapped in butcher paper, the paper carries the colors and captures the design within. Now, when you reuse it, the butcher paper will transfer the design onto the new substrate giving it an impression. This is why you should refrain from using butcher paper.
10. Do a trial before sublimating the actual substrate:
My last tip is all about practice, and it mainly targets beginners. You can buy 100 yards of sublimation polymer fabric from Amazon or any craft store. This is for your practice, and you’ll have pre results of your experiment. If there are mistakes on the polymer fabric, you can correct it and continue until you achieve your desired results. Now, you don’t have to bear a significant loss when you’ll substrate the actual substrate. This has been very helpful for me and a few of my fellow mates in the initial time that led us today to be one of the dedicated and passionate sublimation experts.
Now You’re Good to Go!
From now on, I’m leaving you all on your own. You got my sublimation tips and pretty much all the hacks that I and all of my firm colleagues knew. So far, these are the most secretive sublimation tips you’ll ever know. And I hope you’re now aware of sublimation mistakes and the missing element stopping you from achieving the same results as you’ve seen on the internet and your favorite artists’ vlogs.
Remember, my comment box is open for you always! If you’ve any questions, confusion, or thoughts, just drop them below.
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