Why sublimation isn’t always sublime

In the garment decoration industry we usually understand sublimation to be a garment printing method that is accomplished by using heat and pressure to transform printed sublimation inks (actually they are dyes) into a vapor, which then migrate into the fibers of a textile, (usually light-colored, usually polyester or a blend or a polyester coated item) creating a vibrant full color decoration.  When used as an adjective, the word “sublime”, according to Webster’s online dictionary sometimes means: tending to inspire awe usually because of elevated quality (as of beauty, nobility, or grandeur) or transcendent excellence.

So when I say sublimation isn’t always sublime, I mean it sometimes it isn’t the best way to go and believe me, it isn’t always pretty.  Like when you need to add a custom name or number to a jersey that has been decorated by the sublimation process or manufactured out of sublimation-dyed fabrics.  Unless you really know what you are doing, you might find that the film or vinyl you are using will pick up the color of the uniform. When sublimated fabric is re-heated, the color dyes transform again and grab on to the nearest molecule–in this case the film or vinyl numbers and letters–coloring them. So if you put a white number or name on a red soccer, hockey or rugby jersey that has been decorated with the sublimation process, you will probably find those names and numbers turning a lovely–but not desired– shade of pink. I see this time and time again and I know the wearers of those jerseys are not happy about it.  There are ways to prevent this from happening but the best way is to use lettering and logo materials that are impervious to sublimation gases or dyes. They do exist and of course we happen to sell them, but that’s not the only reason I mentioned them here. The real reason is because I am truly sick of seeing lettering and logos on beautiful, expensive jerseys ruined by sneaky sublimation gases, or people who are afraid to customize a sublimated jersey because they have had this happen to them. So if you love sublimated jerseys, or need to customize a league or team that has purchased sublimated jerseys, you will want to consider using Thermo-FILM(R) because it is one of the best lettering products for blocking sublimation dye migration that I know.  Just make sure you follow the recommended application instructions and don’t over apply the product.

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