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Sublimation Dyes are very popular dyes that have printing
applications. These are readily available in the market as inkjet ink, toner
for laser printers, or as ribbons for the thermal-transfer printing.
Dye sublimation printing is a thermal process whereby color dyes are
transferred from an ink ribbon onto, or rather into, the surface of a
special substrate which is then laminated during the final stage of the
process. During the printing process, the rollers move the paper and one of
the colors together under the printers thermal head. The print head
heats up as it passes over the film, causing the dyes to vaporize into a
gas, the dye diffuses and permeate the surface of the paper, creating a
gentle gradation at the edge of each pixel and produce a near photo quality
print. After the first color the printer moves the paper out the way (most
push the print out of the printer but some actually keep the print inside)
in order to reset the roller for the next color. Once the process has gone
through the three colors, the substrate makes one final pass to laminate the
picture and the process is complete.
Sublimation dyes typically range from the following class of dyes, Acid,
Vat, Pigment, Disperse, Direct and Reactive Dyes. Mostly Disperse and Direct
Dyes gets the choice of printers as formulations of sublimation. These dyes
are prepared from the chemical class of organic systems that is known as
azo, anthroquinone and phthalocyanine dye systems.
There are two types of dye sublimation inks. The
most popular one is aqueous dye sublimation ink for use in both desktop and
large format printers. The other one is solvent dye sublimation ink that can
be used in XAAR, Spectra and Konica print head wide format printers.
Due to the fast development of digital textile printing, dye sublimation
inks are becoming more and more popular in digital inkjet printing on
Transfer Process of Sublimation dyes
Dye sublimation printing is a thermal process
whereby color dyes are transferred from an ink ribbon onto, or rather into,
the surface of a special substrate which is then laminated during the final
stage of the process.
The basic difference between dye sublimation and other types of printing is
option of heat. It is the vaporised colors that permeates the surface of the
paper. This creates an effect of gentle gradation at each pixel edges. While
in the case of inkjets there is a visible border between dye and paper. In
dye sublimation, as the color infuses the paper, vulnerability to fading and
distortion gets lower.
Limitations of Sublimation Dyes
- Sublimation dyes are transparent by nature, that makes them
appropriate for use only on white and light-colored objects.
- The fact that sublimation dyes are able to properly react with
polyesters does mean of a limit to the kinds of products for which heat
transfers can be successfully applied. To illustrate the point, garments
made out of pure cotton do not generally accept sublimation dyes. Also
non-porous surfaces if not coated with a layer of polyester will not
accept the sublimation dyes.