For some companies, both printer manufacturers and printer users, the world of sublimation is a new and relatively recent experience. There are many claims that range across the spectrum of reliability, from those that are completely false to those that are absolutely true.
This document is intended to be a first collection of these supposed truths. It is a kind of FAQ because we hear these questions and statements very often.
1. Any discussion about sublimation printing starts with this statement: “Sublimation printing is less simple than UV / Latex printing. There are more variables ”.
Mainly there are three:
a) the printing of the fabric
b) the sublimation part
c) the finishing.
But of course, we can say that those who accept these statements without further reflection are not very "innovative". On other words, those who think in this way do not think much "out of the box" but repeat and recognize as an irrefutable truth what has been done for at least a couple of decades.
A multinational printing company announced in 2019 highly innovative inks for sublimation printing.
Where is the innovation?
These inks are suitable for working on thermal heads, what is the benefit for the user?
None, these "innovative" inks solve a problem for the printer manufacturer, but they do not solve any problem for the customer.
It could be said that truly innovative printing systems simplify these “three” variables and make them two, making the printing part as simple as UV - Solvent - Latex printing.
At this point we can speak of "innovation".
2. All production equipment until recently used the direct printing method only.
What would “all this equipment” be? It is really difficult to imagine this huge market for direct sublimation printing. A few years ago there were very few printers available for sublimation printing and some large operators entered this market only in 2019. It is true instead that a few years ago there was a lot of equipment (Mimaki, Roland, Mutoh) who all used indirect printing.
3. The direct printing method is used 100% for flag printing and sometimes back-lit, otherwise indirect printing is preferred.
There are various reasons, but the main ones are speed and above all the possibility to avoid having a printing error in the production chain at the end of the job, anticipating the risk of errors as early as possible.
Very good. At least we know that for flag and back-lit prints, both increasingly used, there are no possible comparisons between direct and indirect printing.
Is the double pass faster than the single pass? As an idea it is truly original, it changes the concepts of space-time. Beyond metaphor, in reality the double pass reduces the actual printing speed by at least 40%, without taking into account that the first print you do will be the last available and therefore you are obliged to manage, postpone, anticipate the productions... with obvious difficulties and delays.
And when the printing, color or any other error is "discovered" after sublimation, is it so easy to resolve? No you have to start everything from the beginning, and you have to start over with the times of a double pass. Good luck!
4. Another problem of direct printing is linked to the possible strong shrinkage of materials, especially economic ones.
This is true of course, but the problem is the same even when indirect sublimation is used, indeed, in indirect sublimation it is even more annoying as the material shrinks after a few hours, when it comes out of the calender it is perfect but after a few hours, depending on the material, it shrinks, so you have to wait or air the material in order to allow the fabric to readjust. Not a great help in slowing down the total production times.
5. If all the major manufacturers have chosen to be able to print also indirectly, it is an excellent reason to think that this is very important and not to be underestimated.
This is the true thought of the "innovators", those who imagine a different and better world and try to make it a reality. This is the real thought that would be the envy of those who coined the "think out of the box".
6. Sublimation is the most delicate part of the process. A few degrees change in both humidity and temperature are enough to change the color of the print.
Very true, this is the reason why our calenders are so reliable and are covered by numerous patents.
7. The calender ensures a certainty of results, compared to any activator in line.
Very true, in fact ATPColor does not use a reactivator but a contact calender made of real metal and, as already mentioned, covered by numerous patents.
8. In particular, the success of certain calenders is given precisely by the certainty of having no temperature differences both horizontally and vertically in the roll.
Very true, see points 6) and 7) above.
9. Many customers are approaching sublimation printing for quality. The print quality in sublimation is higher than Latex and UV printing.
This is the most beautiful statement, it is a pity that until the day before yesterday there were those who said that printing on fabric made with UV or Latex was comparable to sublimation.