Dye Sublimation Printing – Notes

Earlier Post

For more detailed information on the subject of Dye Sublimation Capable Printers, please follow our link to an earlier post on this subject.

Dye Sublimation Capable Printers

Before blaming a printer as the cause of poor quality images, let’s look at what a printer does. It creates a print with an image, graphics or text from a file sent to the printer from a computer or mobile device. The printer will print exactly what the file advises it to print!

If your images are not printing correctly, or to your satisfaction, the first thing to do is check that the printer is doing what it is being asked to do. To do this is very easy. Go into the printer properties and navigate to the maintenance tab. On this tab, you will find a “nozzle test” button or icon. Click this to perform a nozzle test. If all of the colours are printed out in the nozzle pattern, the printer is fine.

Should there be a lost colour or many broken lines on the test pattern, hit the head clean icon or button and perform a head clean which in most instances will clear any nozzle blocks? Re-run a nozzle test and when this is ok, carry on printing.

If the nozzle test prints all of the colours and the test pattern, the printer is printing fine. The issue is elsewhere.

HobbyPrint.co.uk supplies several printer models that are capable of printing images for dye sublimation work, the production of personalised printed gifts such as mugs, T-shirts and Caps, to name a few. The idea of this brief article is to remind customers who purchase a dye sublimation capable printer from us, a few of the points to effectively use the printer and to get good results from the printer.

The first point that we would make is that the printers that we supply as “Dye Sublimation Capable” are not modified in any way from the original specifications by the manufacturer. The detail that makes a printer to be “Dye Sublimation Capable” is owing to how the printhead works.

The only difference in the printer that we will supply, is that a dye sublimation ink is used in the printer, instead of the Manufacturer’s inks.

To get a good quality, high-resolution print from any printer requires that the image or graphic to be printed, is a good quality image or graphic, in the first instance. By that, we mean that the image taken is of high quality.

Image Quality

An image taken from a good camera or mobile device with a high-quality camera will create a good image that is resizable to fit the size that you require, in most instances, the resizing is much smaller than the high-quality image size, which is good.

A basic explanation of this would be to imagine a 100mm x 100mm square that has an image created using 1000 dots, which create a great looking and detailed image. If you reduce the size of the square from 100mm x 100mm to 50mm x 50mm, the dots compress but remain and to all intents and purposes, the quality and detail are unchanged.

If the 100mm x 100mm square is increased to 200mm x 200mm, the dots remain the same but need to fill much more area as the size of the square is increased and expanded. A point to note is that it is easy to assume that increasing the square size to 200mm x 200mm is doubling the size, it’s not. 100mm x 100mm actually fits 4 times into a 200mm x 200mm square.

It is at this point that detail and quality are lost and the image becomes blurred and gappy. The term is pixelated. To conclude this point, an image will retain quality and detail if downsized to a sensible level. The image will lose quality and detail if increased in size.

Images taken from the web ARE NOT high-resolution images. They are a reduced version of a high-resolution image that allows for fast page loading on the internet and on mobile devices. To copy an image from the internet and expect a good quality, the high-resolution print will disappoint. Simply put, it is not going to happen. You always need access to an original image to get a good print.

Just think through that a printed image is as good as the detail contained in the image. Low-resolution images contain less detail than high-resolution images, within the image file.

These comments serve as a very basic explanation designed to make image selection and printing requirements, more understandable to beginners in dye sublimation printing.

ICC Profiles

This is a complex subject and it does not help with all of the misleading comments made on the internet.

As with the images, again let’s get to basics. When a printer manufacturer supplies his printer to you, the printer is set to achieve certain colours on printed media using the manufacturer’s inks and papers/media. If you use alternate inks or paper/media, the colours WILL print differently from the manufacturer’s colours.

These colours achieved are set by an international standard in many forms which is completely irrelevant to understanding what an ICC profile is and is designed to achieve.

Basically, if you print a selection of colour swatches and then read the results into software specifically designed to measure the colour swatches and to interpret differences from the standard, a profile correcting the differences can be created for the ink and paper/media that you are using with the printer.

In simple terms, the ICC profile corrects colours back to a standard based on the printer, ink and paper media that you are using.

In the case of Dye Sublimation printing, the colour swatches must be read back from the finished and sublimated article. Measuring the printed paper will achieve nothing. In fact, the colour swatches printed on the paper will confuse the software owing to the major colour differences printed on the transfer paper.

Printed Colour Output

The colours that are printed using dye-sublimation inks will not be the correct colours on the transfer paper. The colours as printed will make you think that the print is wrong. This is quite normal.

The colours do not appear as they should until they have had heat applied and gone through the sublimation process. It is only at this point that the colours can be viewed as complete.

Understanding this is vital to understanding dye sublimation printing and actually, understanding ICC profiles in dye sublimation printing. The actual measurements to create an ICC profile can only be viewed and read from a finished, sublimated article, be it a mug or T-Shirt. Whatever.

Nozzle Test

Get to know how to do this as this is the starting point of determining if a printer is printing o/k.

Before blaming a printer as the cause of poor quality images, let’s look at what a printer does. It creates a print with an image, graphics or text from a file sent to the printer from a computer or mobile device. The printer will print exactly what the file advises it to print!

If your images are not printing correctly, or to your satisfaction, the first thing to do is check that the printer is doing what it is being asked to do. To do this is very easy. Go into the printer properties and navigate to the maintenance tab. On this tab, you will find a “nozzle test” button or icon. Click this to perform a nozzle test. If all of the colours are printed out in the nozzle pattern, the printer is fine.

Should there be a lost colour or many broken lines on the test pattern, hit the head clean icon or button and perform a head clean which in most instances will clear any nozzle blocks? Re-run a nozzle test and when this is ok, carry on printing.

If the nozzle test prints all of the colours and the test pattern, the printer is printing fine. The issue is elsewhere.

More To Follow ………………………….

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