Dye-sublimation printing is a printing method for polyester fabrics. The process uses the science of sublimation in which heat and pressure are applied to the ink, turning it into a gas through a reaction without passing through the liquid phase. After the digital design is printed onto sublimation transfer sheets, it is placed on a heatpress along with the substrate to be sublimated.
The end result of the sublimation process is a nearly permanent, high resolution, full color print. Because the dyes are infused into the substrate at the molecular level, rather than applied at a topical level (such as with silkscreen or direct to garment and thermal vinyl), the prints will not crack, fade or peel from the substrate.
Limitation of the processes is that it can ONLY be printed on 100% polyester and only on light colors.
Vinyl Thermal Transfer is a digital print method that can print full color designs on to a special vinyl that then needs to be cut and weeded ( Excess and unwanted white areas and graphics removed) This vinyl decal is then placed on the garment , heat and pressure is applied which activated the adhesive and it bonds to the surface of the garment. This process has been around for many of years and is the short run industry standard. Decal sits on the surface of the garment and you can feel it with your fingers.
This process can be used on virtually any garment but it does not have the feel of sublimation. It is a decal fused onto the garment which is perfect for dark colors and heavy garments.
Screen printing is a printing technique where the image is burnt onto a mesh/screen, then inserted into a press. Ink is poured onto the screen and pushed through the holes where the image is with a squeegee. The result is an image sitting on top of the fabric. It is the oldest of the print methods and works best with long run as the setup charges can be split among many items.
The image sits on the surface of the garment and you can feel it with your fingers.