Posted By TeckWrap Craft On September 22, 2023
Sublimation vs Heat Transfer Vinyl
Table of Contents
- What Is Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)?
- What Is Sublimation Printing?
- Difference Between Sublimation Printing And Heat Transfer Vinyl
- Difference In Equipment Required For Sublimation And HTV
- Cost Efficiency Of Sublimation Printing And HTV
- Difference In The Choice Of Substrates
- Sublimation vs HTV - The Durability Factor
- Complexity Of Design And Limitations
- Different Application Processes For HTV And Sublimation Printing
- Process For HTV Design Transfer
- Process For Sublimation Printing
- Pros And Cons Of Heat Transfer Vinyl
- Pros And Cons Of Sublimation
- HTV At TeckWrap Craft
- Sublimation Paper At TeckWrap Craft
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re into garment customization, you’ve probably debated whether to opt for sublimation printing or heat transfer vinyl. Both are used to embellish fabrics and transfer captivating designs. However, the process of sublimation is different from that of heat transfer vinyl. Fabric compatibility also differs and so also the durability and the feel of the final product. The process you choose depends on your requirements, the magnitude of your production, and the budget you have.
Let’s see in detail what are the differences between sublimation and heat transfer vinyl printing so that you may decide which technique is best for your next project.
|Sublimation||Heat Transfer Vinyl|
|High initial investment||Low investment|
|Excellent for high volume projects||Good for smaller projects|
|Requires sublimation paper, special dyes, and printer||Requires HTV, automated cutting machine, and heat press|
|Works with polyester and poly-coated substrates||Works with cotton, polyester, and poly/cotton blends|
|Highly durable and long-lasting||Lasts up to 50 wash cycles. May peel or crack with time|
|Best for full-color graphics, gradients, and photographic images||Best for solid color and layered designs that are not very intricate|
|Easy process of application||Time consuming process of application|
|Works best with white or light-colored substrates||No color limitation for substrates|
|The dyes do not create a raised texture and get infused with the fibers of the fabric||It has a raised texture and layers over the substrate|
What Is Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)?
Heat transfer vinyl, also called HTV or iron-on vinyl, is a type of specialty material with an adhesive backing that requires heat and pressure to be activated. It shows the best results on cotton, polyester, and poly/cotton blends and is an ideal embellishment for garments made from these. You can use HTV on glass, metal, leather, and wood as well but it might not be as durable on these.
If you want to personalize items such as clothing, accessories, or even soft home decor, heat transfer vinyl may be the answer for you. Are there a lot of intricate details in your design? No need to worry! Heat transfer vinyl can be cut into any shape using a pair of scissors or an electronic cutting machine. It is available in a plethora of different colors and finishes and adds life to your garments.
Heat transfer vinyl is available for purchase in the form of sheets or rolls. There are a lot of options on the market for different colors, patterns, and finishes. If you choose to use this vinyl material for your craft projects, the possibilities will be endless! Heat transfer vinyl produces durable and long-lasting results. If you take proper care of the design, it can last from 30 to 50 wash cycles.
What Is Sublimation Printing?
Sublimation printing is used to transfer images, designs, and patterns onto various types of surfaces applying heat and pressure and using special paper and dyes or inks. It can be used for a number of different surfaces, such as polyester fabrics, ceramics, and metals.
Sublimation paper is used to print designs on compatible surfaces. It acts as a carrier for the sublimation ink and allows you to transfer your design onto the base material easily. Wondering if regular printing paper can get the job done? No! It won’t act as a carrier for the ink, so if you want to use this technique for your crafting projects, you’ll have to buy sublimation paper.
You will also have to use special sublimation ink which is dye-based and requires heat and pressure to be activated. It transforms from solid to gas when the appropriate heat settings are applied and transfers onto the base material during this process.
Difference Between Sublimation Printing And Heat Transfer Vinyl
Both heat transfer vinyl and sublimation printing are used to transfer intricate designs onto compatible substrates using heat and pressure. However, they have some stark differences such as:
Difference In Equipment Required For Sublimation And HTV
For sublimation, you will have to invest in a printer that uses special ink needed for the process. Special dyes are used and so also sublimation paper that holds the ink. It is thicker and is coated with special chemicals that help the dye particles evaporate into gas. You will also need a heat press machine and butcher paper.
For HTV transfers, you will just need a premium quality heat transfer vinyl, an automated cutting machine (a scissor or craft knife will also do), a heat press machine, and parchment paper.
Cost Efficiency Of Sublimation Printing And HTV
Heat transfer vinyl is more affordable than sublimation printing. The initial cost of sublimation is higher since it requires special equipment, such as a sublimation printer, sublimation paper, and sublimation dyes or inks. Though it produces high-quality and professional-looking results, the initial set-up for sublimation printing is much more expensive and it may not be cost-effective if you’re not producing large quantities of customized products and full-color designs on polyester-based materials.
HTV, on the other hand, can be more economical for smaller runs or when working with a variety of fabric types. The tools required for heat transfer vinyl printing are not expensive as well and are easy to use. HTV sheets or rolls are relatively affordable and come in a wide range of colors and styles. It will be difficult to transfer HTV designs on bulk projects though.
It's essential to consider your budget, the nature of your projects, and your long-term goals when choosing between these two customization methods.
Difference In The Choice Of Substrates
Heat transfer vinyl works well on several different types of substrates. It shows excellent results on cotton, polyester, and poly-cotton blends. Heat transfer vinyl is also used for applying designs to hard surfaces such as wood, glass, and metal. Some of the substrates for HTV are:
- Cotton and cotton blends are best for HTV. These materials are commonly used for creating custom T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other apparel items.
- Polyester fabrics can also be used for HTV transfer however, it may not have the same level of durability and vibrancy as sublimation on polyester.
- Leather is another good substrate for HTV. You can transfer designs on leather jackets, wallets, and bags.
- Canvas is often used for custom bags and shoes, and can be decorated using HTV.
- You can also use it on wood to make signs, plaques, and home decor items.
There are numerous HTV project ideas that you can employ using these substrates.
Sublimation shows the best results on polyester or fabric materials with a high polyester count. To use this technique on other materials, the substrate surface may need to be specifically coated for sublimation. Sublimation also only shows clear results on white or light-colored backgrounds. Some of the substrates for sublimation are:
- Polyester fabrics, polyester-coated products, and polyester blends. Sublimation ink bonds with the polyester fibers at a molecular level, resulting in vibrant, durable prints.
- Polyester-coated mugs, phone cases, mouse pads, and ceramics can be used to apply designs through sublimation. The coating is essential as it allows the ink to adhere to the surface.
It's essential to choose the appropriate substrate for your specific customization method, whether HTV or sublimation, to achieve the best results. While HTV offers more versatility in terms of substrate compatibility, sublimation printing excels in producing vibrant, long-lasting prints on polyester-based materials and coated items.
Sublimation vs HTV - The Durability Factor
When heat transfer vinyl is used, the design sits on the substrate as a top layer. A well-transferred HTV design can withstand normal wear and tear, making it suitable for personalized apparel and accessories. However, the longevity can vary based on the quality of the vinyl used.
With time and repeated washing, HTV may experience peeling or cracking, especially if the application process is not done correctly. Properly adhered vinyl should maintain its appearance for a reasonable amount of time, up to 50 washes.
Furthermore, heat transfer vinyl can be less UV-resistant than sublimation, which means it may fade when exposed to prolonged sunlight or outdoor conditions.
In sublimation, the dye penetrates through the surface of the substrate and becomes a part of the material. Due to this reason, sublimation produces more durable and long-lasting results compared to heat transfer vinyl. The designs do not crack, fade, or wash out as quickly.
Sublimation prints can withstand repeated washes without significant deterioration in color or quality. They are also more UV-resistant than HTV, which means they can maintain their vibrancy even when exposed to sunlight. This makes them suitable for outdoor applications.
Complexity Of Design And Limitations
Are you working with complex designs that have a lot of intricate details? Though heat transfer vinyl can be used for such projects, it is sometimes difficult to accurately cut and weed designs that have intricate details. For heat transfer vinyl, solid blocks of color work best.
If you’re looking to produce colorful, photo-realistic images, opt for sublimation. Sublimation excels at reproducing full-color graphics, gradients, and photographic images with exceptional detail and clarity.
Different Application Processes For HTV And Sublimation Printing
The process of applying heat transfer vinyl and sublimation printing also differ significantly. Let’s first see how an HTV design is transferred onto a compatible substrate.
Process For HTV Design Transfer
In order to prepare the fabric, wash it first to remove dirt, oils, and chemicals that can interfere with the adhesion. Let it dry then apply heat to it to completely remove moisture. Finalize the design on the software that comes with your cutting machine such as Cricut Design Space or Silhouette Studio. You can also work with pre-existing designs and templates from the internet.
Do not forget to mirror the design or flip it horizontally. Cut a piece of the vinyl and place it on the cutting mat shiny side down. The matte side of the vinyl should be facing you. Load the mat into the automated cutting machine and let it cut the design. If you don’t have an electronic cutting machine, you can also use a pair of scissors or a craft knife for this step.
Once this is done, weed out the negative vinyl from your design using a weeding tool. Preheat the heat press machine according to the temperature settings mentioned for the HTV used. Place the design on the fabric where you want it to be shiny side up. Put a Teflon cover sheet or parchment paper on top of the vinyl.
Apply heat and pressure according to the recommended settings for the time duration mentioned. This information will be specific to the type of vinyl you’re using and can be found on the vinyl packaging. Once the time is up, remove the parchment paper.
If you’re using a ‘warm peel’ HTV, remove the carrier sheet when the design is still warm. For a ‘cool peel’ HTV, allow the garment to cool down before removing the carrier sheet. You have successfully transferred your design onto a compatible fabric.
Process For Sublimation Printing
In this section, we’ll explain how to use sublimation to transfer an intricate design to a suitable fabric. Create the pattern on software as you did for the HTV and mirror it. Load the sublimation paper into the printer. It will act as a carrier for the dye. You will need to ensure that the printer you’re using is compatible with sublimation ink and paper. Print your design. If your design comes out a bit duller than what is on your computer, don’t worry. The application of heat will make it brighter.
Position the design onto the T-shirt. The graphic should be facing down. Secure it in place with heat-resistant tape. Place butcher paper on top of it. The temperature settings used for sublimation are typically around 400°F. Apply heat for about 15-20 seconds in order to transfer the ink from the paper to the substrate.
After the time is up, remove the butcher paper and let the design cool for a few minutes. Then slowly peel away the sublimation paper. The design will be transferred onto the fabric.
Pros And Cons Of Heat Transfer Vinyl
Designing with heat transfer vinyl has its pros and cons. We have enlisted these for you to consider:
Plus Points of HTV
- It can be used on a wide range of materials such as cotton, polyester and their blends, leather, canvas, and more.
- It is easy to work with.
- It is available in a broad spectrum of colors and finishes.
- You can layer multiple colors.
- It is less expensive.
- Can be used for small projects.
- The substrate can be of any color. There is no limitation.
Cons Of HTV
- HTV has a raised texture as it layers over the substrate.
- It can reduce the breathability of the fabric.
- Not as durable as sublimation.
- It can peel and crack over time.
- Making complex multi-layered designs can be time consuming and labor-intensive.
Pros And Cons Of Sublimation
Sublimation has its positive and negative aspects as well. These are briefly mentioned below:
Plus Points Of Sublimation Printing
- You get vibrant and high quality prints.
- Sublimation prints are durable and long-lasting.
- These do not create a raised texture. The dyes get infused with the fibers of the fabric.
- These are resistant to UV rays, making them suitable for outdoor applications without significant fading over time.
- Sublimation printing doesn't have limitations on the number of colors or the complexity of designs, making it suitable for intricate and colorful artwork.
- Excellent for high volume projects.
- Fast process. Does not require cutting and weeding.
Cons Of Sublimation
- Sublimation printing poses limitations in substrates. It works best on polyester materials or those with a polyester coating. It is not suitable for natural fibers like cotton or linen.
- The initial investment for sublimation printing is high.
- Sublimation ink is best suited for light-colored substrates. Dark-colored materials may not produce vibrant prints.
HTV At TeckWrap Craft
TeckWrap Craft offers a comprehensive selection of high-quality heat transfer vinyl films that cater to the creative needs of both hobbyists and professionals. Their extensive range includes a wide spectrum of vibrant colors, textures, and finishes, allowing customers to bring their unique design ideas to life with ease.
We prioritize user-friendly applications, hence our HTV is suitable for a variety of substrates, from fabrics to leather and beyond. With a commitment to durability and lasting impressions, our vinyl ensures that personalized designs stay vibrant even after multiple washes and wear. You will get the following finishes in a multitude of exquisite colors with us:
- PU heat transfer vinyl
- Glitter HTV
- Metallic HTV
- Puff HTV
- Glow in the Dark HTV
- Colorful Camouflage HTV
- Galaxy heat transfer vinyl
- Chameleon Shimmer HTV
- Patterned HTV. This includes Animal Prints, Buffalo Plaid, and Snowflakes Pattern.
- Color Changing HTV
- Reflective HTV
- Flock HTV
- Holographic HTV
Sublimation Paper At TeckWrap Craft
The finest sublimation paper is crucial for achieving high-quality and long-lasting sublimation prints. At TeckWrap Craft, we fully understand this hence we offer a 100-sheet pack of 8.3"X 11.7" sublimation paper in 100g and 120g.
Our premium quality paper has quick ink drying properties to prevent smudging and ensure precise image transfer. It is designed to absorb sublimation ink effectively, allowing it to bond with the substrate uniformly. It maintains consistent color and image reproduction, ensuring that the final prints have vibrant and accurate colors.
Our sublimation paper facilitates sharp and detailed image transfers, especially for complex designs and photographic prints, and is compatible with a variety of substrates, including fabrics, ceramics, metal, and more. The transferred prints are durable and can withstand washing, UV exposure, and general wear and tear without fading or deterioration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Final Verdict On Sublimation vs HTV
So, what’s better – sublimation or heat transfer vinyl? It all comes down to the specific requirements of your crafting project. If you are preparing bulk orders in polyester fabric opt for sublimation. For small-scale projects in cotton and its blends, HTV is the best.
In this article, we’ve gone over the list of factors you should consider when trying to decide between these two printing methods. We’ve also explained the application processes for both techniques. Hence you can easily decide for your specific project, which printing method is the best.
In order to purchase premium quality heat transfer vinyl films and sublimation paper, visit TeckWrap Craft to get the best value for money. Do not forget to share your creations with us!