Let’s Talk Ink – Sublimation Tutorials

What is Sublimation Ink?

Sublimation Ink is a special ink that, when printed and heat transferred/pressed to a polyester substrate, creates a chemical reaction in which the ink bonds with the opened fibers of your polyester substrate. This creates a seamless feel and integration with your design and surface.

Pretty cool huh? It actually turns to a gaseous state and bonds forever with your product! Standard printer ink does not do this. If you want to sublimate your designs, you must use sublimation ink.

Which ink do I get?

Just like some people prefer Coke over Pepsi or Starbucks over home brew, you’ll find an ink that you love over all others.
There are MANY MANY different kinds of sublimation ink. The number 1 thing to make sure when you’re buying ink is that it actually says SUBLIMATION INK. If it doesn’t say this, it’s not sub ink.
Here are some inks that I recommend. They can be purchased many places and a quick google search will help you find the best place to get them for your area. I order all of my stuff from Amazon just because it’s quicker for my location.
  • InkXPro
  • Printer’s Jack
  • Cosmos
  • PJ
  • InkOwl
Most inks have a shelf life of about 6 months. After that time they can get thicker or clumpy and you definitely don’t want to put that through your lines of your printer. Use your printer daily or at least every couple days to keep the ink flowing. If you’re going to be gone for more than a week or not printing for more than a week, it’s a good idea to seal up your cartridges or empty them out (back into the bottles) and clean the cartridges so they don’t dry out.

How to care for items made with sublimation inks

The awesome thing about sublimation is the inks actually become part of the product you’re sublimating; the higher the poly count, the brighter and more of the color will stay.

Remember, you cannot sublimate on cotton without extra spray products (which I personally do not recommend, but that’s another unit).

Because the ink bonds with the actual fibers of the polyester, you can launder any sublimated fabrics any way you’d like really. Hot water, cold water, regular detergent and even bleach won’t affect the design!

For things like ornaments, wood designs, trays and things that aren’t typically submerged in water or liquid, a clean cloth with some dawn or just plain water will wipe off any dust or dirt that may accumulate from being displayed.

Anything such as cutting boards or things that can be contaminated, you’ll want to ask your vendor or manufacturer how they should be properly cleaned.

What about my printer’s warranty?

So here’s a wee bit of bad news for us Epson converters…If you do not use genuine Epson brand inks in your Epson brand printer, it voids their warranty.

This is the same for Sawgrass printers. If you do not use Sublimation Inks specifically made for Sawgrass, you will have no warranty.

Open & Closed Ink Systems

  • Open Ink Systems AKA Refillable Cartridges are a big no no to the printer warranty world (as we learned in the last post). These will absolutely void your printer’s warranty for Epson or Sawgrass. This is because microbubbles and tiny contaminants can get into the lines and cause lots of issues; possibly irreversible.
  • Closed Ink Systems are guaranteed because they are created, filled and sealed at the manufacturer and rarely, if ever, contain any microbubbles or contaminants that get into the printer from having a refillable opening.
Sublijet offers closed ink systems for both Epson and Sawgrass but are quite pricey and not available for every model.

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