What is Sublimation?
Sublimation in its simplest form is a process where ink printed on paper using a high-speed inkjet printer is then transferred into the fabric using heat and pressure.
In short, Digital Sublimation is the process where dye ink is heated at over 400° into a gas then transferred onto fabric, creating a bond, then the dye cools and becomes solid once again. This allows for a smooth transition from what you see on your screen to what is seen on fabric. There is almost no limit to the number of colors with this process. This allows the natural wicking materials to remain breathable and maintain their strength and durability. Since dye sublimation inks become part of the fabric, the images will not fade, crack, or peel. Unlike heat transfers or silkscreen, the dye sublimation process allows Performance fabric to maintain its breath-ability. Since every square inch of your garment can be sublimated with your individual colors, logos, number, and names, it is safe to say that our sublimated garments are the only "true" full custom garments available.
Sublimation ink is unique in its ability to convert from a solid to a gas without going through a liquid form. If you think back to your physics class, this seems to defy logic. You only need to think of an ice cube and its normal process of being a solid, then melting into a liquid and then further melting into gas and evaporating. When heated, sublimation ink bypasses the liquid phase, going directly from solid to gas. What is even stranger about this unique and wonderful ink is that it starts life as a liquid, which is used to print onto paper. Sublimation ink, therefore, goes from liquid to solid to gas instead of solid to liquid to gas. Don't try and figure it out. Just enjoy the result - the best-looking, best-performing uniforms and apparel in the world.
During the sublimation transfer process, the ink becomes a gas, absorbing into the fibers and becoming part of the fabric. This is totally different from screen printing, where the ink is deposited on the fabric's surface, suffocating the technical fabric’s characteristic ability to breathe. On the other hand, sublimation allows the garment to maintain its technical characteristics, continuing to breathe and wick moisture away from the body. The fabric, which absorbs the dye completely, remains soft. Your design is permanently infused into the fabric's fiber and does not crack, peel, or wear off.
Kiian Inks - the worlds finest
As you might expect, there is considerable variance in the quality of inks used in sublimation. We operate on Kiian Hi-Pro inks which are the world's finest. Kiian inks offer unsurpassed color vibrancy, saturation, durability, and colorfastness. These inks are also some of the most expensive globally, costing as much as ten times what lower grade inks cost. These inks were the first from a major ink supplier to receive Nike certification under the restricted substances list and are approved for all garment manufacturing. The Nike certification is rigorous and extensive and shows our commitment to using only the very best products available. Additional certifications are as follows:
CLEAR TO WEAR
NIKE RESTRICTED SUBSTANCES STANDARD
Kiian Hi-Pro inks, in addition to maintaining the certifications above, are water-based inks and, as a result, are safe for all youth garment manufacturing.