The definition of sublimation printing

Updated February 21, 2017

Printers are a commonly used computer peripheral device. Many types of printers exist on the market, and one such printing device is the dye-sub printer, which uses sublimation printing.


Sublimation printing is done using a process to heat dye and transfer it onto a medium such as paper or plastic. The printer rollers push the medium and its colour panels beneath its thermal printing head. The printing head contains heating elements, and lays the dye amounts depending on the amount of heat transmitted. The dye heats to a gas, spreads onto the printing medium and becomes a solid colour.


Advantages sublimation printing has over inkjet printing include immediate print handling, since the prints are produced dry as opposed to damp. An inkjet printer produces layered droplets of ink, which can be seen under magnification. Dye sublimation creates constant tones without spotting, similar to a chemically produced photograph. Sublimation printers also contain fewer moving parts than inkjet printers, decreasing wear-and-tear issues.


Sublimation printers only accept specially coded print paper, limiting their flexibility. Sublimation printers use only a single roll, which applies all four panels of coloured dye for every print, even if all panels are not needed. This results in a relatively high amount of wasted dye per print.

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