How To Choose Sublimation Inks?

Here is a list of everything to consider when looking to buy the perfect sublimation ink to give you amazing vibrant printing results.

Ready to get your customizing business on the go, or are you still looking for ways to get started? Well, if the latter case is more relatable, I might be able to help you with this. Customization is something that is trending nowadays. Whether it’s about giving someone a gift or making something for yourself, a touch of customization makes it all the more special. This is exactly why it can be a beneficial business as well.

How To Choose Sublimation Inks?

But what you need to know is that the process behind this customization is sublimation printing. And what ensures high-quality printing is selecting high-quality ink. I’m sure your next question is something like, being new to this business, how can you tell the difference between high and low-quality ink. This is where I come in! Here I have listed a few of the things that I consider very important to look into. Make sure you consider these when choosing the sublimation ink that is most suitable for your use.

How To Choose Sublimation Inks

After using multiple sublimation inks, I have narrowed down some key properties that sublimation inks have. Depending on the type of machine you use obviously the results can differ for different people. However, from personal experience, the following aspects of the sublimation ink play a key role in determining the quality of the ink.

Transfer Rate

The speed with which this color is transferred from the dye particles onto the material is called the transfer rate of the ink. The quality of ink greatly depends on the rate of transfer of the dye. Of course, the higher the transfer rate, the better we will consider the quality of this ink to be. In the market, you may find inks having transfer rates up to 90 %!

But now you must be thinking, what exactly is this transfer and what takes all this time? Well, the conversion of the dye particles is what forms this transfer rate. Basically, how the printing ink mechanism works is that the dye originally comes with solid dye particles. Despite the ink originally having a liquid consistency, these solid particles are responsible for the transfer of color onto the material.

When this ink is exposed to the heat press, these dye particles are evaporated to form gas particles which then hit the material’s surface to be printed. Hence this is the actual transfer process that determines the rate of transfer during the sublimation process. This is the process that you will want to be quick.

Size of The Dye Particles

As mentioned earlier, the ink consists of solid dye particles. These particles are then responsible for carrying the color onto the new material. So when the ink is released through the printer, all these solid particles make way through the opening at the same time, which is where size matters!

If the particles are too big in size, they will accumulate inside the nozzle. This will create an obstruction preventing the ink from passing through. Not only does this negatively impact the quality of your print, but it can damage your printer as well. As you already know how costly sublimation equipment is, this can be quite a loss.

In case of such a scenario, you can try fixing your sublimation printer at home. The wiper and the inkjet are two of the main areas of the problem. These have the most chances of clogging up due to the particles sizes along with other soil particles. Hence try cleaning these areas yourself. If it still does not work, you can then take it to the repair shop for further observation.

There is another defect that comes with the inks having large particles. These particles can be seen on the print sometimes. This can ruin the smooth texture of your printed designs and may even look untidy. Hence always look for sublimation inks that have smaller dye particles. Not only will they show better printing results, but they will be much easier to use as well.

Purity Of The Ink

One of the most basic features of good quality ink is its purity. One prefers the ink having a high purity level as these will show much better printing results. Hence these are the high-quality alternatives that you want to select.

One way to check the purity levels is from the black sublimation ink. The black sublimation ink can lose its purity quite easily, so it is a good standard for the measure. For any brand, you want to put to the test, observe the color quality of its black dye. If the printing quality for this color is acceptable to you, then the purity level is good enough for your use. In case the print is not up to mark, you should probably go for another brand.

Environmentally Friendly

For those conscious of the environmental degradation happening all around us, the dye can be a pretty problematic product. This is because they tend to release many harmful substances into the environment. Most of the impact is on the water as these substances ultimately dissolve into the water supply. Other than that, there are many brands that the government prohibits you from using. Therefore try to stay away from such low-quality products.

Hence, in such circumstances, eco-friendly versions of the sublimation ink are a better option—many options in the market offer this feature. The advantages of this dye include no toxin addition into the water supply. These dyes are renewable as well. And most importantly, the environment-friendly sublimation inks can be easily recycled.

Quality Of Raw Materials

This one’s pretty obvious, but it’s still essential. The sublimation inks are made using a combination of different compounds. These include a combination of glycols, different polymers, and acetate, etc. When you shop for a good quality sublimation ink, you should look at the ingredients used. Make sure that the raw materials are of good quality. Remember, only high-quality ingredients can guarantee a high-quality product.

Colour Reduction

Colour reduction is basically used to measure how exactly the color of the design is copied onto the material. A high-quality brand will transfer the majority of the color onto the material. It will ensure that the print resembles the original design as much as possible. On the other, low-quality ink will change the color or shade.

Although it may not appear bad, it will still be different from the original color. So when looking for a good quality ink, make sure you pick a product that gives the same color shade as you observe in the design. Usually, a 90% color reduction is considered the standard for high-quality sublimation ink.

Drying Time

After the ink has been transferred to the material, it takes some time to dry up. Now the rate of drying up is the time it takes for this process. Usually, anyone would prefer faster drying. This is usually because the faster the ink dries, the lesser is the chance of the print messing up.

Most people consider the drying time to be a major aspect of the transfer paper used in the sublimation printing process. But actually, the truth is that it’s not just the transfer paper but also the ink. Yes, the quality of the ink plays a major role in determining the drying rate of the ink. Therefore if you are looking for a good quality ink, you should be looking for the one that has a higher drying rate.

Price Of The Ink

This is actually quite a basic understanding. The sublimation inks are not cheap. These inks are not made of cheap products; hence, you should know that the quality is compromised if you find such products at unrealistic low prices. Sure the price may look pretty attractive to you. Maybe the deal looks pretty good for your pocket. But trust me, a cheap, low-quality product is going to do you more harm than good.

So what you have to do is look for sublimation inks that come at a realistic price. Of course, they don’t have to be crazy expensive to work. But at least do some research to determine the cost of the raw materials. This helps you decide if the product is really cost-effective or a hoax. Investing some extra money in a good quality product is way better than spending hundreds on repairing your equipment later on.


What sublimation ink should I use?

Heat Press Nation Inks comes up with some of the best high-quality sublimation inks like Sublijet and ArTainium inks. These give results much better than other cheap versions available in the market.

Are all sublimation inks the same?

No, there are several factors like the raw material used, the price of the inks, the size of dye particles, etc., that differentiate the inks from one another.

Can you mix 2 different sublimation inks?

Different inks have different components and different particle sizes. Mixing them will not be very effective and instead give a partial effect.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know everything you need to know about sublimation inks, you’re all set! Once you have the right kind of ink for your printing process, it’s going to be so much easier, and the result you’re going to get is going to be worth it. So get ready to start customizing some amazing products. With some of the best resources at hand, it will not be long before you are at the top of your game. Good luck and happy printing!

If you want to learn how to do sublimation printing you can read our guide about how to do sublimation printing.

About Cathleen Clemens

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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