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Dye Sub vs. Direct to Fabric

Dye Sub vs. Direct to Fabric

We are comparing two ways to get your full colour print onto a piece of fabric. Two ways that are very different. There is dye sublimation and there is direct to fabric. 

Direct to fabric is exactly what is sounds like. A print head sprays tiny droplets of ink to make an image directly on to the fabric surface. When it comes off the printer and through the heater (heat sets the ink... sort of) the finished image is there to see. What you see is what you get. Most inks printed on fabric will spread or bleed. This bleed makes for an image that isn't as crisp as you might like it to be.

Dye sublimation is a completely different process. In fact, you don't even print on the fabric. You print on a special paper. A transfer paper. And you don't even print with ink. You're printing with dye. Dye that is actually a solid. When the dye is printed on the paper the image looks faded. Grainy. It doesn't look very nice at all. You think maybe something went wrong. Until you add heat, pressure and time. Think of sublimation a bit like cooking. We have ingredients; image printed on paper and the fabric. We have an oven; a press capable of reaching temps of over 200c (400F). And we have time; the length of time the ingredients are heated. 


Your heat press is hot and you send the paper with your image and the fabric you want it to transfer on through the press and then you wait. Anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes and what comes out the other end is nothing short of magic. Miraculously the colours have come to life in ways you never thought possible. Think of the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen and put it on a piece of fabric. Photographic quality not possible by any other printing method.                           

Best of all, the change is permanent. What you've done has actually dyed the fabric. This is not ink. No weight is added. Nothing can be felt. Unlike inks that are just on the surface, the fabric with dye sub is embedded. Inks will flake or peel off. Not Dye Sublimation. The dyed images remain sharp even after washing. 

Not only will it look good when it's first printed but it will continue to look better. Here is an example of two flags printed different ways. The flag on the left was printed direct to fabric using surface inks. Flag on the right was dye sublimated. Hard to tell the difference from far away and there isn't much detail, right?


Now look at the SAME two flags 8 1/2 months later. They've been on the same roof beside each other every day. Flag on the left is turning orange while the dye sublimated flag still looks sharp and red. Amazing!


Dye sublimation printers are capable of CMYK and Pantone colour matching so your logo will look as good as it's intended to in a flawless fabric print.


So next time, choose dye sublimation. Choose Balloon Boys Promotions and Get yourself one of our custom printed products here  - Custom Printed Products



*We do not guarantee our prints will not fade if used outdoors. The sun is a powerful thing - eventually all fabrics left outdoors will fade in the sun - ours have just been proven to last longer than other printing methods. 

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  • Mitch Belfry