A sublimation printer that uses sublimation ink has always been one of the most important pieces of equipment needed by those running design and printing businesses. Of course, it is also known that it is best to use sublimation paper when you are printing using sublimation ink. But what if you do not have a sublimation paper? Can you use sublimation ink on just any regular paper?
You cannot use regular paper when printing using sublimation ink. The reason is that sublimation ink has a different chemical composition that requires a paper that should only be a temporary carrier before the ink is transferred to another surface. Using regular paper will only absorb the sublimation ink.
It might be true that sublimation paper is more expensive than regular paper. However, there is a good reason why you cannot use regular paper when you are printing using sublimation ink. It is very important to note that sublimation ink is very different compared to your usual inkjet. As such, there is a need to make sure that you do not use ordinary paper when you are using sublimation ink.
What is sublimation ink?
When it comes to design and printing businesses that often use textile as the main material for the designs, one of the most important things that these businesses know is to invest in a good sublimation printer that uses sublimation ink instead of the usual inkjet that is used in regular printers. But what exactly is sublimation ink?
Sublimation ink is a kind of ink that is chemically different from your usual dye ink. The reason why it is different is that sublimation inks are designed for the purpose of sublimation. In physics, sublimation is the process of turning solids into gas while essentially bypassing the liquid state.
This means that sublimation ink, when transferred to textile and other similar surfaces, is meant to turn into gas immediately. The process allows the ink and the entire design to get transferred without any cracks or problems. And the transfer process is usually facilitated using sublimation paper.
When you want to use sublimation ink for your designs, you first need to print the design onto paper using a sublimation printer. From there, the design needs to be transferred from the sublimation paper onto the final product using heat and pressure.
Sublimation paper or transfer paper is basically there to facilitate the transfer of the sublimation ink on the surface of the final product that the design is meant to be on. What happens is that the paper is supposed to only serve as a temporary carrier as the transfer is facilitated using a heat press that would allow the ink to move from the paper to the final product.
Can you use sublimation ink on regular paper?
Now that you know what sublimation ink is and that it needs to use paper as a temporary carrier of the ink, does it mean that any kind of paper can be used for sublimation? Can you use regular paper instead of sublimation paper instead?
The answer is really no, you cannot use regular paper instead of sublimation paper when you are using sublimation ink. The reason here is that the regular copy paper that we have for our printers is not designed to handle sublimation ink in the way that sublimation paper does. In a way, what happens here is that the regular paper will not do the best kind of job when you are finally transferring the design onto a shirt or any other material.
When you are printing using sublimation ink, the paper should only be a temporary carrier before you transfer the design to the final product. That means that the paper should not absorb too much of the ink.
So, if you were to use regular paper that is usually quite absorbent, what will happen is that only some of the sublimation ink will be transferred to the final product through the process of sublimation. That is because the regular copy paper sucks up too much of the ink and will keep the ink from being released through sublimation. This will result in a poor design that lacks the color depth and the details that you might want the design to have.
Then there is also the fact that sublimation ink, when printed, is not yet dark enough until the sublimation transfer has been completed. Using sublimation ink on regular paper will result in a design that looks bland and very light. It is the process of sublimation that will bring the colors out of the design. But the fact that regular paper absorbs ink really well, the ink transfer through sublimation will not be as good as you would have hoped it to be.
Why use sublimation paper for sublimation ink?
Now that you know why regular printing paper should not be used when you are using sublimation ink, it is now important to look at why sublimation paper or any specialized type of transfer paper should be used.
In most cases, different transfer papers are coated with wax and pigment precisely because the paper should only be a temporary carrier of the ink before you transfer the design onto the material of the final product. The wax and pigment coating will prevent the paper from fully absorbing the ink. This allows the process of sublimation to fully transfer the ink onto the surface of the final product.
Sublimation paper is also better because of its high color principle and low distortion. That means that it is better at making the colors on the design come alive with minimal distortion. But the most important part is the fact that sublimation paper does not suck up ink and will be able to maximize the transfer of the ink on the material through the process of sublimation.
In comparison, regular paper is not coated with any kind of film that will prevent the paper from absorbing the ink. This will minimize ink that is transferred onto the surface of the final product.
You can use sublimation ink on regular copy paper and it will work, however, the results will not be what you are intending. The transfers will be dull and not as vibrant due to the inks. being absorbed into the paper. Sublimation paper is pretty inexpensive, so just stick with what works unless you are in a pinch.
Be sure to check out some other nifty functional craft ideas through our other posts here on Craft-ILY as well as checking out some videos on DIY and How To’s over on YouTube. Look for “Crafting Unedited” or just click the name in blue to see!