What is dye-sublimation printing?
Dye-sublimation printing is a technique that uses heat and special inks to create vibrant and crisp designs on fabric. Heat is used to transfer designs from paper to fabric - the heat changing the ink from a liquid to a gas, fusing it with the properties of the fabric - creating clean, long lasting prints. The gaseous state of the ink results in a completely washable, smooth image that’s fully embedded into the material. Plus, the quality is high resolution consisting of vivid, vibrant colors. Through this process the dye becomes part of the structure of the material, the images on the fabric don’t fade or crack - even after multiple washings.
What are the benefits of dye-sublimation?
Dye-sublimation decorated apparel is detailed, creative and unique. There are no boundaries when it comes to patterns or designs. Dye-sublimation allows us to create any look using graphics that are printed directly onto fabric. Printing colour blocks and graphic elements onto the apparel reduces the layers of materials that are traditionally associated with assembling a cheerleading uniform. This makes our uniforms much more comfortable to wear and maximizes athlete performance as it does not restrict movement.
Printing graphic elements also allows us to add fine details into our designs that cannot be achieved with traditional cut and sew methods - which also minimizes uniform costs.
Some common requests of dye-sublimation printing is to create an ombre (colour gradient) effect on the panel of fabric. This effect would otherwise be impossible on cut and sew uniforms. Also, it is a common request to have lettering on the sleeves, back, front etc.. These can be added to the design without increasing the cost of your uniforms. Basically, if we can print the graphic element, it is of no extra cost to you!
What colours can we use?
With dye-sublimation, we can print virtually any colour. We use a standard set of printed colours that are commonly seen in cheerleading and sports teams - however, if you have a specialty colour that needs to be matched, we can do that as well. We can even print neon colours!
Important facts about dye-sublimation
While there are many benefits to using dye-sublimation, it is important to note that there are also some limitations to this technology. One important limitation with dye-sublimation onto stretch fabrics is the "white" factor. The dye-sublimation process require the inks to be printed onto white fabrics, so when the fabric is stretched too far, the colour may appear to get lighter or faded. This is because, when stretched, you are able to see the white material through the knit. Unfortunately this is the nature of dye-sublimation, as the colour is transfered onto the top of - and not completely through - the fabric. This is much more noticeable when printing a dark colour onto a larger area.
Another limitation with dye-sublimation, is that it can only print flat colours. This means that any elements that need to be metallic or holographic would need to be added using traditional sewing methods, or by adding rhinestones - which could increase the over all cost of your uniforms.