So you want to do sublimation on a dark shirt? Do you have any experience with it? I know that there are many tutorials out there, but they’re mostly outdated. So I decided to create an up-to-date guide for you so that you can do this at home with ease!
What Is Sublimation Printing?
Sublimation printing is a process where heat transfers ink from a donor material onto a substrate.
This method is used mainly for clothing, but also for other products like bags, phone cases, etc.
It’s basically the same as screen printing, except that instead of using a mesh, you use a special paper that has been treated with a special coating.
The main advantage of sublimation over screen printing is that it doesn’t leave any unwanted residue behind (like if you would print directly on your fabric).
The best thing about sublimation is that it works great on dark fabrics.
You don’t need to worry about light colors bleeding through, because the ink will be absorbed by the fabric.
Also, it’s not possible to get a white background when doing sublimation.
How Does Sublimation Work?
When you put a piece of paper into hot water, the molecules start moving around more quickly than normal.
As a result, the paper becomes very soft and starts to stick to itself.
When you remove the paper from the hot water, the molecules return back to their normal position, and the paper sticks together again.
In order to transfer ink to a substrate, you first need to make sure that both the substrate and the ink are heated to the right temperature.
Then you place the paper on top of the substrate and press down firmly until the paper adheres to the substrate. Finally, you take the paper away from the substrate and let it cool down.
If you use the wrong temperatures, the ink won’t transfer properly.
The ideal temperature for transferring ink is between 120°C – 180°C. For most types of ink, the optimal temperature is 150°C.
Steps To Do Sublimation On Black Shirts Yourself
Choose Your Ink
There are two different ways to choose your ink:
- You can buy pre-made ink sheets
These come in packs of 10, 20, 30, or 40. They usually cost less than $10 per pack.
However, these aren’t suitable for beginners because you’ll have trouble getting them to adhere well to the fabric.
- You can mix your own ink
This way, you can control how much ink you add to the mixture.
If you decide to go this route, you’ll need to find a good supplier. Make sure to ask for advice before buying anything.
Prepare Your Donor Material
You’ll need to prepare your donor material before starting to print. Here are some tips:
- Cut the pieces of paper to fit your design exactly.
- Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the paper.
- Try to keep the edges straight.
- Don’t fold the paper too much.
Heat Up Your Fabric And Ink
To heat up your fabric and ink, you’ll need to use a hairdryer. Start with low settings.
Gradually increase the power until you reach the desired temperature.
Place The Paper Onto The Fabric
Place the paper on top of your fabric. Press down firmly until the paper sticks to the fabric.
Wait Until The Ink Has Adhered
Leave the paper on the fabric for at least 5 minutes. After that time has passed, carefully peel off the paper.
Let It Cool Down
Let the ink cool down completely before removing it from the fabric.
Remove Any Residue
Use a warm wet cloth to clean the area where the ink was applied.
Repeat Steps 3 – 7 As Needed
Repeat steps 1 – 8 as needed until all of the ink transfers successfully.
Finish Off With A Sharp Scissor
Use a sharp pair of scissors to finish off any rough edges.
What Makes Sublimation Harder On Dark Shirts?
The reason why sublimation works better on white shirts is that they reflect light.
This means that the heat doesn’t penetrate deep enough into the shirt.
When you apply heat to dark fabrics, the heat penetrates deeper into the fabric. This makes it harder to get the ink to transfer.
Sublimation Printer For Black Shirts
Sublimation Printers can be your best friends when you’re printing on dark shirts.
A sublimation printer uses heat to transfer the ink onto a substrate. When using a sublimation printer, you don’t need to worry about the ink sticking to the substrate.
All you need to do is put the paper on top of it and press down firmly until it adheres.
Tips And Tricks For Using A Sublimation Printer For Black Shirts
Make Sure You Use The Right Temperature
If you want to use a sublimation printer to transfer ink onto black shirts, make sure to use the right temperature. Most printers will automatically set their own temperature.
But if yours isn’t doing so, you’ll need to adjust it manually. Most printers have an auto-shutoff feature, but some don’t.
You should always remember to turn it off once you’ve finished using it. Otherwise, it may burn out.
Keep An Eye Out For Spots
When transferring ink onto dark shirts, there’s a chance that you might end up with spots.
These spots usually appear in areas that aren’t covered by the fabric. They could also appear near seams or other parts of the shirt.
It’s important to remove these spots immediately because they won’t disappear on their own. If you leave them alone, they’ll only grow bigger over time.
You Can Avoid Spotting By Printing In Small Areas
Instead of trying to cover the entire surface of your shirt, print small sections at a time. This way, you can avoid getting any spots.
The Complete Instructions On How To Sublimate On Dark T-shirts With Sublimation Printer
There are a few steps to doing sublimation printing on black shirts. First things first though, we need to know exactly what we’re going to need.
1) Sublimation Printer
2) Inkjet Paper
3) Your Black Or Dark-Colored T-shirt
4) Hot Press Machine
5) Heat Resistant Gloves
6) Heat Resistant Tape
First thing first, you’ll need to find a suitable place for your printer. Ideally, this would be somewhere that has plenty of room to move around. It shouldn’t be too hot either. Make sure that it’s not directly under a fan.
Next, you’ll need to prepare your t-shirt. Remove all of the buttons, zippers, and other fasteners. Then cut off as much excess material from the bottom of the shirt as possible.
Now that everything is ready, you’ll need to load your printer. Load the inkjet papers into the tray. Make sure that you load the correct size according to the instructions provided with your printer.
Once you’ve loaded the inkjet papers, you’ll need to open the lid of the printer. Place the front of the t-shirt against the front of the machine. Now, position the back of the t-shirt facing away from the machine.
Finally, you’ll need to close the lid of the printer and press down firmly. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to wait for the machine to cool down completely before taking the t-shirt off.
After removing the t-shirt, you’ll need to peel off the heat-resistant gloves. Take care when peeling them off since they can get stuck on the printer.
After removing the gloves, take the printed t-shirt and lay it flat on a clean surface. Use the heat-resistant tape to stick the printed image onto the back of the T-shirt.
If you’d like, you can now iron the t-shirt. You can do this with an iron, or alternatively, by placing the printed t-shirt inside of a heavy-duty clothes dryer. The heat from the dryer will help to fix the image permanently.
If you’d like to add another layer of color to your t-shirt, repeat the process. Just make sure that you use different colors of inkjet paper.
After adding additional layers of color, you should have a nice-looking t-shirt.
9 Top Tips For Sublimation Printing On Dark Polyester T-shirts Like A Pro
- If you wash your darker-colored shirts in cold water and dry them in the tumble dryer for a few minutes before you sublimate, the colors will last for much longer!
- Cover with foil and then iron out the wrinkles on low heat to make the whole process easier.
- Wait 5 minutes before taking the foil off. Pull carefully from one corner until all the pieces are removed.
- Help yourself out by using the mirror function in your printer to print the design.
- A layer of hairspray on the design you want to sublimate will help it massively.
- Peel off the transfer paper from the backside of the sublimation paper once it has fully dried.
- Always make sure that you use high-quality hot press vinyl when sublimating on t-shirts as cheaper brands won’t work as well and your t-shirts may start to peel.
- When printing your design onto transfer paper, always make sure that the room has adequate lighting, there are no fans or air conditioning units switched on, and that you don’t move around too much during the application process.
- If you’re printing an image from an online source, first download the image and then open it in Photoshop. This will allow you to have more options for adjusting the colors before transferring the image.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take To Sublimate?
It depends on how many prints you have made. If you only have 1 shirt, it could be anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 hours. If you have 10+ shirts, it’s going to take up to 4 hours.
Can I Put My Designs On Other Materials?
Yes, but it might not look as good. Try using the same technique on a piece of fabric or leather. It’s also possible to apply the method to other objects such as mugs, mousepads, keychains, etc.
What If I’m Not Happy With The Results?
Don’t worry about it. There is nothing wrong with having a second attempt at something. You just need to remember that you can’t go back and change things after you’ve applied the sublimation ink.
Is A Sublimation Printer Safe To Use?
Yes, it’s completely safe to use.
What’s The Difference Between A Sublimation Printer And A Normal Printer?
Sublimation printers create images using heat instead of light. They are ideal for creating transfers because they give you a very clear and crisp image.
They are also great for creating custom clothing items such as bags, hats, jackets, and scarves.
There you have it — sublimation printing on your dark clothing isn’t as tricky as it may sound. Follow the guide and pointers above, and you’ll be customizing your black tees in no time!
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