Sublimation has become a popular form of printing technique especially when it comes to T-shirt printing. Many opt for the technique because it is simple, straightforward, and long-lasting. One of the major reasons why individuals and businesses alike opt for the sublimation printing technique is that sublimation dyes can last for years.
Yes, years! But like all other inks, they have certain limits. When exposed to certain environments, chemicals, and conditions, they might begin to fade over time. Its bright and vivid colors begin to appear dull and blurry. So, the question is why and how to keep sublimation from fading?
As a business, you don’t want to hear complaints from your customers. And as an individual, you would definitely wish for your customized prints to stay for as long as possible. So, whether you are a sublimation business owner or a hobbyist, this article will help you understand why sublimation fades and how you can prevent it from happening. So, continue reading to find out more.
Table of Contents
- Causes of Sublimation Fading
- Tips for Preventing Sublimation Fading
- Maintenance and Longevity
Causes of Sublimation Fading
Before we go ahead and learn about ways to stop sublimation dyes from fading, we must understand why the prints fade in the first place. Only then can you take preventive measures to prevent prints from fading. Here are the major reasons which lead to sublimation fading;
One of the major reasons why sublimation prints fade is washing. Unlike other printing methods, during sublimation, the dyes convert into vapors and become a part of the fabric during imprinting. Hence, when washed from time to time, the threads of the fabric begin to loosen up and sublimation dyes begin to mix with the water, which results in fading of the dyes.
So, if you are wondering, how to keep sublimation from fading after washing, then the best solution is to lower the frequency of washing. Also, always use cold water instead of hot water as it prevents the inks from vaporing and mixing with water.
2. Sun Ultraviolet Discoloration
Many hobbyists question why my sublimation looks faded after staying in the sun for long. You need to understand that the sublimation process is based on the conversion of dyes into a vapor state and UV rays play important role in fading of sublimation. So, when exposed to UV rays directly, due to the intense heat, the dyes begin to convert to a vapor state again which allows them to re-connect with the threads of the fabric and disperse in the air.
This does not mean that you can’t your sublimation printed shirts during the day. You definitely can, but make sure to prevent direct contact with the sunlight for a prolonged period. Also, avoid drying the printed clothes in the sun to avoid the print from fading.
3. Avoid using Polymer Coating
In the case of materials other than fabric, the polymer coating can be the major reason behind faded prints. Users of sublimation, especially beginners, do not realize that most hard surfaces such as wood, ceramics, and others already come with a layer of the polymer coating.
So, when sublimated using another layer of polymer coating, the ink begins to fade much faster due to excessive layering. Also, it often takes longer to sublimate with additional polymer coatings. Thus, before applying a layer for sublimation, make sure to check whether the material already comes with a polymer coating or not.
4. Low Quality Material
Sometimes, the issue isn’t the environmental conditions, it is the process itself. To keep the cost at the lowest, many beginners will opt for low-quality prints and sublimation paper. Since the dyes aren’t designed to last longer or the paper doesn’t transfer the print right, hence it begins to fade faster than usual. To prevent it from happening, the solution is simple – better printing materials!
Tips for Preventing Sublimation Fading
Sublimation fading can be minimized by implementing the following tips and techniques:
Choosing the right materials
Quality sublimation inks and papers
Opt for high-quality sublimation inks and papers that are specifically designed for sublimation printing. Using subpar or low-quality inks and papers can result in fading over time.
Consideration of fabric type and quality
Select fabrics that are suitable for sublimation printing. Polyester fabrics tend to yield the best results, as they have a higher affinity for sublimation inks. Additionally, ensure that the fabric quality is good, as lower-quality fabrics may be more prone to fading.
Proper printing and transfer techniques
Calibrating heat press settings
Calibrate the heat press machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations. Proper temperature, time, and pressure settings are crucial for achieving vibrant and long-lasting sublimation prints.
Ensuring even pressure and heat distribution
Ensure that the heat press provides uniform pressure and heat distribution across the entire surface of the sublimation transfer. Uneven pressure or heat can result in inconsistent color transfer and potential fading.
UV protection and preservation
Using UV-protective sprays or coatings
Apply UV-protective sprays or coatings specifically designed for sublimated items. These products create a protective barrier that helps shield the print from UV radiation, reducing the risk of fading.
Keeping sublimated items away from direct sunlight
Avoid exposing sublimated items to direct sunlight for prolonged periods. Sunlight contains UV rays that can accelerate fading. Store or display sublimated items in areas with minimal exposure to direct sunlight.
Washing and care instructions
Gentle washing with mild detergents
When laundering sublimated items, use mild detergents that are free from harsh chemicals. Harsh detergents or chemicals can strip away the sublimation ink, leading to fading.
Avoiding harsh chemicals and bleach
Refrain from using harsh chemicals, bleach, or abrasive cleaning agents when cleaning sublimated items. These substances can cause the ink to break down and fade.
Air drying or using low heat settings
To preserve the sublimation print, opt for air drying whenever possible. If using a dryer, set it to low heat or delicate settings to minimize exposure to high temperatures that can potentially fade the print.
Related: 10 Best Printers for Stickers
Maintenance and Longevity
How you can maintain and increase the life of your sublimated products: Learn below
Storing sublimated items correctly
Avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures: Store sublimated items in a cool and dry place, away from extreme temperatures. High temperatures can cause the ink to fade or bleed, while low temperatures can affect the integrity of the print.
Using acid-free tissue or archival paper for folding: When folding sublimated items, use acid-free tissue or archival paper to prevent ink transfer and protect the print from creasing or damage.
Regular maintenance and inspections
Checking for signs of fading or damage: Periodically inspect your sublimated items for any signs of fading, color distortion, or damage. This allows you to address any issues promptly and prevent further deterioration.
Retouching or replacing damaged areas: If you notice any fading or damage on your sublimated print, consider retouching the affected areas using appropriate sublimation inks or seeking professional help. In cases where the damage is extensive, replacing the item may be necessary.
Regular maintenance and inspections play a crucial role in preserving the quality and longevity of sublimated items. By keeping a close eye on the condition of the prints and addressing any issues promptly, you can ensure that they remain vibrant and intact for an extended period.
How do I stop my sublimation from fading?
Many beginners question, how to keep sublimation ink from fading? So, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. You can prevent it from happening by understanding the cause behind it and then taking appropriate steps to prevent it. Here are a few ways in which you can stop your sublimation from fading;
- Limit the number of washes
- Do not bring the print in contact with direct UV rays for a prolonged period
- Use cold water for washing
- Use high quality dyes and sublimation paper
Why is my sublimation fading?
Fading of sublimation prints can be caused due to various reasons. So, if you are questioning, why does my sublimation looks faded, then you need to check for the following reasons;
- Direct contact with UV Rays
- Frequent Washing
- Low-Quality Paper or Inks
And you shall have your answer. Once you know the cause, you can always prevent it by taking the appropriate steps and following the guidelines.
Read more: Can You Use Any Printer for Sublimation
Why are my sublimation prints blurry?
Over time, sublimation prints do become blurry. But usually, the process takes years. However, if you expose the print to unfavorable conditions, it might begin to get blurry within days or weeks. Extensive washing and exposure to the sun can be the reasons, but the major reason for blurriness is the use of low-quality inks or sublimation paper.
Due to the low quality of the dyes, they begin to vaporize quicker by detaching themselves from the threads of the fabric. On the hand other, when not transferred properly, the print will definitely be blurry. So, make sure to get both things right to avoid blurriness of prints.
Read More: Best Printers for Sublimation
A faded sublimation print is not a splendid sight. The colors that were once bright and vivid are no longer there. Instead, you are left with faded print with missing areas here and there. As the article explains how to keep sublimation from fading, it can happen due to various factors. But like other outcomes, it can also be prevented by taking preventive measures.
So, understand the cause behind your faded print and then follow the proper set of instructions to avoid it from happening in the future. Remember, sublimation prints are to look their best for years and years. Hence, follow the guidelines and you should be set for life.