Dye sublimation is a tried and true garment decoration method. But like most technologies, it has its limitations. Dye sublimation produces decorated garments with exceptionally soft hand and rich color, but only on white or pastel polyester. No cotton, no black shirts.
Now you can use dark shirts! Now you can use cotton! Now with EnduraTex SubliTex transfer film, you can use your desktop or wide format sublimation printer and inks to decorate shirts of any color, any fabric. Your favorite customer wants black cotton shirts for a poker run? No problem. Drop some SubliTex into your printer and make it happen.
What is this new SubliTex stuff and how does it work?
EnduraTex SubliTex features and benefits
EnduraTex SubliTex is a unique new printable polyester heat transfer film. SubliTex gives you a heat applied film you can print with your dye sublimation inks, then contour cut and heat apply just like team graphics. Since it has a polyester face film, it can be sublimated with standard sublimation inks including Sawgrass SubliJet inks. Since it’s an adhesive thermal transfer film, it can be heat applied to cotton, polyester, acrylic and other standard apparel. The heat press application simultaneously sublimates the face film and seals the film to the fabric. The resulting appliqué isn’t as soft as sublimating directly to polyester, but it does have great opacity, vivid color, and wonderful versatility.
Speaking of versatility, SubliTex is also solvent printable so it can be used like a standard heat transfer film in a PrismJET VJ48, Mutoh ValueJet, Roland or Mimaki printer. The polyester face film gives it a slightly discernible weave like a printable carbon fiber appliqué.
SubliTex comes in 15″ x 33 foot rolls and in letter size (8.5″ x 11″) sheets. The sheets are available in packages of 10, 50, or 100 for as little as $29.00. The material has a textured matte surface and is laminated to a clear liner with a heat activated adhesive. Click here to order online.
Procedure for EnduraTex SubliTex: Print, Cut, and Press
The print and cut application process for SubliTex is similar to the way EnduraTex DarkJet film is used to expand the envelope for Sawgrass ChromaBlast ink. You can read more about that development in our DarkJet ChromaBlast article.
The print and cut process requires some specific hardware and software. The ideal combination is a vinyl cutter with a registration mark sensor and Vinyl EXPRESS LXi Expert, Master, or Master Plus. The software adds cut paths and registration marks to your image so the vinyl cutter can cut around the print, creating a contour cut decal.
Here’s a quick summary.
- Design your graphic in Vinyl Master Plus or import it from your preferred graphic design platform. Use the Contour Cut and Contour Cut Mark features to add the cut path and registration marks.
- Print the image from your RICOH, Epson, or Sawgrass Virtuoso printer using SubliJET ink and the Sawgrass drivers.
- Print “right reading” not mirror image. Print on the matte textured side. The clear gloss side is the release liner.
- Place the print in your vinyl cutter, position the blade and then send the cut file from LXi to the cutter. LXi will drive the cutter’s registration mark sensor and automatically find the marks and begin cutting the contour path around the print.
- Remove the print from the vinyl cutter and ‘weed’ away the excess material leaving only the decal. Remove that from the clear glossy liner and place it on the garment.
- Cover with copy paper and press for 50 seconds with medium pressure at 340°F. Voila! You have a vivid sublimated appliqué on the fabric and color of your choice.
For simply shaped transfers like ellipses or rounded rectangles, you can simplify the print and cut process and use a standard vinyl cutter without a registration mark sensor. Just design a large enough bleed so that the cut path doesn’t have to align precisely with the print. Print it, cut it, and press it.
Whether your designs are simple shapes or ornate appliqués, EnduraTex SubliTex heat transfer film can dramatically increase potential sales for your sublimated apparel. You can use your existing ink and printer without limiting yourself to white polyester shirts. Say YES to more customers, including those who want your designs on cotton and colors.