Let’s Talk Paper – Sublimation Tutorials

Let’s Talk Sub Paper!

I have used Asub in the past, but am currently using Koala. They seem to be sold by the same company, but I need to look more into that.  Here’s some paper facts/info!
  • Sublimation paper is made specifically to transfer the sublimation ink to your garment, fabric or other surface by way of a heat press. (A home iron doesn’t get hot enough nor will it cover the full area so the image is transferred evenly; we’ll discuss that in a later topic)
  • While you may have heard you can use copy paper, this is not recommended. Copy paper can bleed or transfer the ink inconsistently, and you don’t want to waste your expensive ink like that.
  • Using high quality paper DOES make a difference in color and quality.
  • Colors may look OFF or MUTED until pressed. That’s OK and completely normal.

Where can I buy sublimation paper?

  • The obvious and easiest (especially if you have Prime) is Amazon. There are many choices and tons of reviews for each.
  • Heat Press Nation
  • Walmart
  • Swing Design
  • Ebay
  • BestBlanks
  • ProWorld
Do you have a favorite place to purchase paper? Add them in the comments below!

How do I choose a sublimation paper type?

The next question you may have is what GRAM weight you should go with. What size? Why do I need to think about these things?
I referred to PGPAPER to help me understand this when I was getting started. I hope this helps you also.
These are few factors to be considered while choosing the right sublimation transfer paper.
  1. Ink Capacity and Limits
    This is an important factor, higher the ink limit (wet), heavier the paper should be in order to accept moisture from the ink without any disturbances like curling and warping.
  2. Ink Pattern
    This explains that the printing of a very complex design artwork that has mixed heavy and light ink input. This is faced with low weight papers, with the occurrence of curling and shifting after pressing. To eliminate this the best solution is using 110gsm or more that accept heavy and light inks.
  3. Roll to Roll, or Roll to Sheet
    Calendar heat press prefers low-gsm papers. But in heavy ink, limit and capacity are to be considered wisely. Here we consider the limitations of high capacity production and consequences like warping and curling.
  4. Print Speed
    The quality of the paper to be produced depends on what speed it is being printed at. Fast printing produces lightweight paper, slow printing produces thick paper.


  • Low humidity: In the humidity under 45%, it’s better to choose 80gsm. When in low humidity, the paper shrinks, and the print side is hunched-up. During the process, the paper absorbs ink, which leads to the “hunch-up”. 100g and 120g paper are harder than 80g, so the “hunch-up” damages the print-head. 80gsm is softer, it could relieve the “hunch-up” and protect your print-head from damage.
  • High humidity: In the humidity above 70%. It’s better to choose 110-120 gsm. Since the paper is very easy to become damp with high humidity, it will become softer and stiffness is weak at the same time. If low weight paper is used, it will be hard to print smoothly because of the stiffness and hardness go down. At this time, 110-120 gsm is the best choice.

Uses of Sublimation Paper

What exactly can I use sublimation paper ON?
  • Apparels: Lycra materials, cycling, Polyamide, Swim & Surfwear, 100% polyester (stretch), running, ice hockey wear, Sports and functional textiles.
  • Home Usages: Curtains, Blinds, Cushions, Table Covers, Towel Cleaners, etc.
  • Advertisement: Flags, Banners, Felts, Gaming tables, Home Textiles.
  • Metal, Woods, (some high temp plastics) and glass when treated with a poly coating.
Sublimation paper is applicable to sublimation transfer, on which can print images with mirror reversal through inkjet printing, flat printing, screen printing, and gravure printing. Then transfer the image onto media by heating and pressuring, which makes ink on the paper become a gaseous state and combine with the media.
Heat transfer paper is applicable to heat transfer, on which images can be printed through flat printing or gravure printing, and then combined with media by heating and pressuring in order to transfer the image onto media.
***Ink and Media Ink: ***Sublimation paper is used with sublimation ink. Heat transfer paper is used with sublimation ink, pigment ink, solvent ink or others. Media: Sublimation paper can be transferred onto polyester, mouse pad, banner and hard surfaces, such as mugs, ceramic and aluminium plate. But heat transfer paper is usually transferred onto cotton.
Successful dye-sublimation requires the following two-part process:
  • Printing graphics onto special transfer paper using sublimation inks.
  • Using heat press to transfer the ink-on-paper to the item to be designed.

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