HEAT TRANSFER Vs. SUBLIMATION | T-Shirt Printing & More | Apparel Academy (Ep56)

Are you having trouble deciding between heat transfer and sublimation printing? In this episode of Apparel Academy, Henry will be going over the differences between these types of printing methods and which one is the right choice for your business.

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You can do heat transfer and sublimation printing on the R550 White Toner Transfer Printer, but you might not know the difference between the two and which is better for your business. First, let’s go over what they are.

What is Heat Transfer Printing?

Heat transfer printing is a two-step method where you print a design onto a transfer paper. You then transfer the printed design onto an adhesive paper using a heat press. Finally, you peel away the adhesive sheet from the transfer sheet and then press the design onto the garment. After pressing the design onto the garment and peeling away the paper, you have a design that’s transferred onto the garment.

What is Sublimation Printing?

Like heat transfer printing, you’re printing the design onto regular copy paper or sublimation paper and then using heat via the heat press to transfer the design onto a substrate.

When you heat the printed design during sublimation, the toner on the transfer paper goes from a solid to a gas and then embeds itself into the fabric. When it cools, it goes back to being a solid and becomes a permanent part of the material. Sublimation doesn’t add an extra layer to the top of the fabric, unlike heat transfer printing. And you won’t feel the difference between the printed image and the rest of the material.

Now let’s discuss what to consider when choosing between sublimation and heat transfer printing.

Durability and Feel

A heat transfer printed design can last about 30 to 40 washes, depending on the size of the design, and how it’s washed. You will also feel the difference between the design and the fabric.

With sublimation, the ink fuses to the fabric, so it’s more permanent. Most sublimated designs will last as long as the actual fabric. You’re not going to see any cracking after washes, and the image is less likely to fade.


With sublimation printing, the types of substrates you can transfer images onto is limited. This is because sublimation can only adhere to polyester coated materials. Even if you use a polyester blend, you’re not going to get as much vibrancy in your design compared to 100% polyester. Also, you can only use white or very light-colored substrates. That means you can’t use sublimation on a black t-shirt or a dark mug because the design won’t show.

On the other hand, with heat transfer printing, you can print on light and dark colored garments and on almost any surface like cotton, polyester, ceramic, and other hard surfaces like wood and metal.

Color Quality

Sublimation allows you to print full colors. This can be very helpful when sublimating a photo or doing a job for a customer that requires a specific color, such as printing a company logo.

You can also achieve sharp, vibrant designs using the heat transfer method if you’re printing your design using a white toner transfer printer, like the Ricoma R550 White Toner Transfer Printer. So you can achieve full-color vibrant designs with either method.

In the end, the differences between these methods lie in durability, feel, and variety of products you can print on.

Ultimately, which method you choose depends on what your customer is looking for and the type of material they want to print on.

But if you still can’t decide, you can have the best of both worlds with the R550 White Toner Transfer Printer, as it can do heat transfer and sublimation printing!

14 thoughts on “HEAT TRANSFER Vs. SUBLIMATION | T-Shirt Printing & More | Apparel Academy (Ep56)

  1. Bogdan Zaharia

    Does anyone know the difference between printing your T-shirt with normal printing ink and printing it with special sublimation ink? Cause i wanted to buy an expensive printer to do both stickers and T-shirts printing and i can't use the special sublimation ink for The stickers and also can't afford to buy 2 printers each for the specific ink

  2. Angel Robison

    Very helpful video thanks for sharing will definitely check out the r550 printer

  3. Cameron Ra

    This is by far the best video on this topic I have seen. Informative and great quality video I’m definitely subscribing to this channel.

  4. christopher soledad

    can you recommend for outdoor use? I mean i have to make Tombstone picture on ceramic tiles, this can last for a long time?

  5. MX79

    Man, thank you for breaking it down for us. I was going crazy over here trying to use sublimation paper on aluminum dog tags.

  6. BarOn

    God you are amazing at explaining. I tested both methods and sublimation is way better for me.

  7. Degie Paulo Galura

    What is the best method you can recommend for 80% cotton 20% polyester for both white and black shirts?

  8. Hentsy Designs


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