What is sublimation?

Sublimation is process used to decorate many substrate or items – from apparel to drinkware. The definition of sublimation is when a substance goes directly from a solid state to a gas state without passing through a liquid state.

Sublimation ink is solid on the paper. When the artwork is placed on a substrate and heat is applied, the ink becomes a gas and permanently dyes it. This is a major advantage of this process. Unlike screen printing or vinyl that sit on the substrate and can peel or crack and come off, sublimation permanently dyes the substrate. You can feel the difference when you run your finger across each. The screen printing and vinyl are slightly raised, and you can feel where they start and stop. You cannot feel the difference with sublimation.

Because it is a dye process, it is best for the item being decorated to be white or light for the colors of the artwork to stay true and show up. It goes back to art class – for example yellow + blue = green. The colors matter, as seen the image below. The same art work is applied to a white mug, blue mug and a red mug.