The basic dye sublimation process uses special heat sensitive dyes to print graphics, text and virtually any image onto transfer paper.
When the heating cycle is completed, the image on the paper has been transferred to the item and has actually reformed into or underneath the surface.
Dye sublimation is always done on polyester, polymer or polymer coated items. At high temperature, the solid dye vaporizes into a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The same high temperature opens the pores of the polyester fabric and allows the dye vapour to enter. When the temperature cools, the pores close and the gas reverts to a solid state trapping the dye into the fibre of the fabric. It has now become a permanent part of the fabric or polyester coating.
This is why dye sublimation cannot be done on natural materials, such as 100% cotton. Natural fibres and non-coated materials which have no “pores” to open cannot accept the gas vapour. The dye particles are designed to bond with polyester, and ignore everything else.
A DYE impregnates colour into a material and this colour change is permanent.
SUBLIMATION refers to the change from a solid, to a gaseous state without becoming a liquid.
DYE SUBLIMATION refers to solid dye particles that are changed into gas using heat and pressure, which then bond them with any polymers present and change back into a solid.