What is Sublimation?

Dye sublimation is a digital printing technology that enables the reproduction of colorful images on common everyday items, including personalized novelty items and photography panels. Dye-sublimation printing is quick and inexpensive in both setup and production, making it an ideal choice for creating personalized, one-of-a-kind items or for mass producing a variety of custom products. Dye-sublimation printing yields beautiful and permanent colors that are embedded in our specially formulated coating, rather than printed on the surface. ChromaLuxe substrates have an extremely durable scratch resistant surface that won’t warp or yellow with age.

The Basics

The modern dye sublimation process is quite simple. Create an image (using photography or custom graphics) on your computer, print it onto special transfer paper using sublimation inks, and then apply the paper with the image to the item to be decorated. Using a heat press, the transfer paper is pressed onto the surface at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the sublimation inks to “transfer” from the paper directly into the poly-based coating. After about a minute, the heat is removed and the transfer paper is peeled off, leaving behind a permanent, vibrant image.

The Science

Sublimation printing is unique because the inks go from a solid to a gaseous state without turning into a liquid. A variety of substrates can be used, from hard surface aluminum photo panels to polyester t-shirts. Dye sublimation ink consists of a solid, heat-intensive dye, which provides the color, dissolved in liquid. Under heat and pressure, the solid dye particles change into gas, bond with any polymers present, and change back into a solid. The high temperature used in sublimation opens the pores of the polymer and allows the gas to enter. When the substrate is removed from the heat source and is allowed to cool, the pores close, and the gas reverts to a solid, becoming a part of the polymer. As such, the dye particles can no longer be removed and will not wash out with even chemical solutions.


ChromaLuxe offers a white poly-based coating and a clear poly-based coating. When images are transferred into the white poly-based coating, it gives you a vibrant, true-to-color image reproduction with exceptional quality of detail. When images are transferred into the clear poly-based coating, the aluminum shows through the lighter areas of your transfer and leaves you with a metallic look. Both substrates are available in gloss and matte.

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