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Looking at the literal meaning – as it is defined in the science world – sublimation is the phase transition of a substance from a solid directly to a gas without going through a liquid phase occurring under specific temperature and pressure conditions.
OK. But how does this fit in to decorating thousands of products with a photo quality image? It helps if you approach this technology by looking first at the word dye. This technology involves a dye process. Hundreds of thousands of everyday products are decorated using colored dyes. Manufacturers of apparel, consumer packaging, consumer goods, electronics, etc., et al add dyes to color their products whether they're made of plastics, fabrics or woods. The dye process is often done at early stages before the individually decorated product components are assembled or sewn together.
As we are describing dye sublimation, the "solid" part of the equation denotes the microscopic particles of solid ink dyes which rest on the surface of your printed, ready-to-transfer sublimation page which you printed directly from CorelDRAW, Adobe PhotoShop or a RIP program like Wasatch to a supported Sawgrass, Epson, Ricoh, Mutoh or Mimaki sublimation printer. When introduced to heat, these solid ink particles turn directly to a gas which then permanently dye the decorated surface and sub-surface of your product, depending on whether it’s a textile or hard substrate.
When speaking to users of dye sublimation technology, you find it can mean drastically different advantages to different businesses. To some, it means the ability to produce high-value, photo gift products. To others, it means styling custom performance apparel where the entire garment – from neck to hem – can be a zone for sublimation decoration. Hundreds of other businesses use dye sublimation in unique ways. Arguably the most versatile technology available to the product decorator today, sublimation allows for the creation of thousands of full-color, true photo quality products in numerous markets such as apparel, gifts, awards and recognition, promotional products, signage, recognition pieces, tile murals and much, much more. Whatever your business' primary focus, dye sublimation allows for a wide interpretation of product solutions across many market segments.