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Heat Transfer vs Sublimation — Which Should You Go For?

When you want to make a custom t-shirt, it’s important that you know the difference between printing methods so that you can choose the right one for your design.

When it comes to printing methods, there are two popular methods: Sublimation printing and Heat Transfer. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right method for your needs. Keep on reading to understand more about the difference between these two methods.

What Is Heat Transfer Printing Method?

Heat transfer printing is a popular method for customising t-shirts. Also known as iron-on transfers, this technique involves printing a design onto transfer paper using an inkjet or laser printer. The transfer paper is then placed on the shirt and covered with a piece of heat transfer vinyl. A heat press is then used to apply heat and pressure to the vinyl, causing it to bond to the fabric. The result is a durable, high-quality print that can be washed and worn like any other t-shirt. Heat transfer printing is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to create custom t-shirts, making it a great option for businesses, schools, and organisations.

Pros and Cons of Heat Transfer Printing


  1. Cheaper startup cost

    The process is relatively simple and can be done using an inkjet printer and special heat transfer papers. One of the main advantages of this method is that it has a lower startup cost than some of the other printing methods.

  2. Versatility

    Heat transfer printing is a versatile printing method that can be used on a variety of fabrics. The heat transfer paper is applied to the fabric with a heat press, and the inkjet heat transfer paper produces high-quality prints on the fabric that you want.


  1. Weeding process

    One of the most tedious and time-consuming aspects of heat transfer printing is weeding. Weeding is the process of removing the excess vinyl or laser heat transfer paper that is not adhered to the substrate. This can be a very tedious and time-consuming task, especially if the design is complex or has small details.

  2. Image quality

    One of the main disadvantages of heat transfer paper printing is that the feel of the image can be noticeable. This is because the heat transfer paper is applied to the fabric using a high-temperature press. As a result, the heat can cause the paper to crack, and the image can become raised or bumpy.

What Is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a unique printing process that allows for custom designs to be printed onto sublimation paper using a sublimation printer. The sublimation printing process involves printing your design onto the special paper using sublimation inks.

Sublimation inks are unique in that they are specifically formulated to turn into gas when heated, which allows them to penetrate into the fibres. Once your design has been printed onto the sublimation paper, it is then placed on the garment or item you wish to print it on. The garment or item is then placed in a heat press, where it is exposed to high temperatures for a period of time. This causes the sublimation ink to turn into gas and penetrate the fibres of the garment or item, resulting in a permanent, full-colour print.

Pros and Cons of Sublimation Printing Method


  1. colour quality

    Sublimation printing is a popular choice for custom t-shirts because it produces high-quality results. This printing method offers a number of advantages, including high colour quality and durability. The colour quality is due to the fact that the dyes are actually infused into the fabric, rather than just sitting on top of it. This results in vibrant, long-lasting colour that won’t fade over time.

  2. durability & image end result

    Sublimation printing is a great option for those looking for a durable, high-quality print on their custom t-shirt. Sublimation ink is transferred directly into the fabric of the shirt, resulting in a print that will not crack, fade, or peel over time.

    With sublimation, rather than the image being applied on top of it, the sublimation ink is actually infused into the fabric through the sublimation process. This results in a print that is less likely to fade or crack over time. In addition, the print has a softer feel, rather than the stiffer feel of a heat transfer.


  1. cost

    One of the main reasons why people shy away from using the sublimation printing method for their custom t-shirt is because it is higher in cost. In terms of both the printer and the paper being used, it can be a significant investment. Additionally, the process itself takes longer than other methods such as heat transfer paper, which can add to the overall cost. However, many people feel that the results are worth the higher cost and effort, as sublimation printing produces a higher quality image that is more resistant to wear and tear.

  2. not as versatile

    One of the main disadvantages is that it is limited to certain types of colour and fabric. Sublimation only works on light-colored fabrics made from polyester or polyester blend materials. This means that you won’t be able to use sublimation on dark-colored fabrics or those made from natural fibres such as cotton.

So, Which One Is Better? Sublimation vs Heat Transfer Paper?

Both have their advantages, so it really just depends on what you’re looking for. Heat transfer is generally the more budget-friendly option, making it a good choice for those who are just starting out. It’s also pretty easy to use, which is ideal if you’re new to the world of printing. However, one downside of heat transfer is that it’s not as durable as sublimation. So if you’re looking for a printing method that will hold up to a lot of wear and tear, sublimation is probably a better option.

Additionally, sublimation is better suited for certain types of activity and materials. For example, if you’re printing on polyester fabric or other synthetic materials, sublimation is likely to give you better results. Ultimately, both heat transfer and sublimation have their pros and cons. It just depends on what your budget is and what you’ll be using the prints for.