How to Use Sublimation Over Dark Colors

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Graphic tees are created with dye sublimation.
Graphic tees are created with dye sublimation. (Image: Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Dye sublimation is a process that allows manufacturers to print graphics and text in black and white or color on a variety of items including mugs, shirts, license plates, ceramics and more. Special ink called sublimation ink, heat and pressure are used to transfer images from specially coated paper onto the variety of treated surfaces. Sublimation ink is used because it transforms from a solid to a gas without going through liquid form, enabling a clean and precise transfer. Sublimation can be done easily over the most common material -- polyester- or cotton-blend T-shirts -- easily and quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Sublimation ink
  • White dye sub dark polyurethane transfer sheet
  • Computer with Photoshop or Corel Draw
  • Inkjet printer
  • Heat press
  • Fabric or other material with polymer content substrate or coating

Load dye sublimation ink into an inkjet printer. Load the design you want to transfer to a polymer-coated material or at least 50 percent polyester content T-shirt into a graphics program on your computer.

Place a piece of white dye sub dark polyurethane transfer paper into your printer and print the design onto the paper.

Place the printed piece of dye sub dark polyurethane transfer paper face down onto the T-shirt or other item to which you want to transfer it.

Adhere the transfer paper with design to the dark t-shirt or other item with a heat press set to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Hold the press closed with moderate to heavy pressure for 10 seconds to 4 minutes, depending on the type of material to which you are transferring the design (Reference 3 contains a material-specific chart with press times and temperatures).

Remove the item from the press, examine it for color transfer and allow it to cool.

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