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"Sublimation Coating Introduction, FAQs and Q&A"

Current question and answers:

Ed. note: Please!
No abstract questions.
Huh?

May 11, 2021

Q. I have a question -- do the sublimation coatings contain anything that would be harmful if used in a CO2 laser?

Kay Bishop
- San Antonio Texas
^




May 2021

A. Hi Kay. More words please. Your question is probably clear in your mind, but unfortunately I have no understanding of what you are asking.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


June 6, 2021

Q. I'm trying to do a sublimation ink vinyl on bottle coozy. But I'm wanting it protected. What could i put over it to protect the sublimation ink vinyl transfer so it status new looking. As well from water sun wear. I don't want it hard finish but clean. Thanks

Linda Bailey Velis
- Noblesville Indiana
^




Closely related historical postings, oldest first:

2007

Q. Dear Sir,

My name is Ali and I am in Pakistan. We have recently purchased sublimation dye print machines and blanks from Hong Kong. It works great but we want to make our own blanks for sublimation printing. In our country there is no company which sells sublimation coatings; none have any idea. We are the only one who are doing this work.

Is there anybody who can tell me how we can make our own sublimation coatings and what is its formula.

Thanks for co-operation.

Ali

M. Ali
manufacturer - Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan
^






Inkjet Textile Printing

2007

A. First, an aside to bring readers up to speed and minimize confusion:
"Sublimation" means going directly from solid to gas without the middle step of liquid. The best known example of sublimation is dry ice, which goes from a solid directly to carbon dioxide gas without ever getting wet.

The sublimation coating process is sort of an "iron-on coating". You print an image onto paper using special dyes in an ink-jet printer, hold it against another object, and apply heat. The dyes/inks that you used in the ink jet printer then sublimate, i.e., turn to gas, and are absorbed onto the surface you are coating.

Strictly speaking, it's actually the dye/ink which sublimates. But when people talk about "sublimation coatings", what they really mean is the clear/white polyester paint/coating they put onto their sign, T-shirt or coffee mug, which will accept that sublimated gas, and pick up and hold the image.

Hi Ali. I think most polyesters take sublimation, and that includes lots of paints, although optimum formulations appear to not be generic information. So I would suggest that you either try some common clearcoats (for example 2-part automobile clearcoat), or do a free patent search, both to learn what particulars supposedly makes it work best, and what things you need to refrain from doing. Good luck!

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


2007

A. Hi,
Sublimation coatings for your purpose would consist of a resin, solvents and a dye that volatizes when it is heated. To obtain a formula to meet your requirements, you could follow the route that Ted has suggested or spend some money on a consultant. Nobody will be willing enough to give away freebies as formulation costs time and money to develop.

Terry

Terry Hickling
Birmingham, United Kingdom
^


2007

A. YOU CAN USE THE CLEAR COAT THAT IS USED AS A FINISHING COAT WHEN YOU PAINT A CAR. IT SUBLIMATES REAL GOOD.

WILFREDO TORRES
- ADJUNTAS, PUERTO RICO
^



July 26, 2008

Q. In the name of God ...

Dear all,
I have the same problem as you. If you solve your problem, please tell me.

ebrahim safa
- tehran, iran
^


April 1, 2009

Q. Hello I am from Ireland and am looking to know how to put photos onto tiles -- plaques using sublimation -- laser and then onto gravestones outdoors.

patrick j steacy
printer - athlone westmeath Ireland
^



thumbs up signHi cousin Ebrahim; hi cousin Patrick, and gentle readers ... Please help make this dialog fun, useful, & informative by posting what you do know, not just what you don't know :-)

You've probably tried something, -- so, in a word, what did you do and what happened? Did you try the automotive clearcoat as suggested by Wilfredo? If so, what happened? If not, why?! Thanks!

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


affil. link
Rave hair spray

June 13, 2011

A. Hey, don't go out and buy the expensive sublimation coatings. I've been doing months worth of research. You really aren't going to believe this but go purchase Rave 4X hairspray =>

... (yeah, I'm serious). I've successfully used it on porcelain tiles, wood and most recently a 100% cotton T-shirt. When I used the T-shirt I washed it three times in cold water (didn't use hot) and dried it. NO COLOR FADE. The reason I did this research is because it takes me a week to get the coating in and as a business just starting out I couldn't afford to have a lot of it in stock.

Angela Muir
- Leeds, Alabama USA
^


July 9, 2012

Q. Angela, I tried Rave 4, didn't work. What am I doing wrong. How much do you apply, how many hours do you let it dry, bake time and heat. Do you cure the tile before sublimation? Thank you.

Agustin J. Villarreal
- Mcallen, Texas USA
^



August 25, 2012

Q. How to make sublimation coating for heat transfer printing.

Sanjay Singh
Sublimation printing work - Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
^



thumbs up signHi cousin Sanjay. Please don't start the thread over again, as that only makes it long & boring and chases away readers without moving us forward :-(
Rather, please request clarification on anything you didn't follow, or make a comment about something from the discussion above that you tried, or tell us something from your own experience. Thanks!

I don't know much myself, but while the hard automotive clearcoat that Wilfredo suggested is appropriate for hard surfaces, it doesn't seem like something you'd want to put on a cotton shirt, so also please also explain what you are trying to coat.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


September 27, 2012

A. SANJAY, URETHANE CLEAR COAT AND URETHANE WHITE PRIMER WILL SOLVE ALL YOUR SUBLIMATION PROBLEMS. YOU CAN COAT ANYTHING, AND IT IT IS A HARD DURABLE COATING. YOU CAN APPLY IT TO WOOD OR METAL, EVEN CERAMICS, AND IT IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL AUTOMOTIVE PAINT DISTRIBUTOR. TRY IT AND YOU CAN STOP ASKING THE SAME QUESTION :-)

WILFREDO TORRES [returning]
- adjuntas, PUERTO RICO
^


October 23, 2012

Q. Thank you very much if what you said is right. But one thing more: please tell me how to mix it, what would be the quantity of each, and how to apply. Thanks for all, especially who is giving solution.

Amjad Rasheed
business promoters - punjab pakistan
^


thumbs up sign Hi cousin Amjad. Wilfredo has told us to simply buy urethane automotive clearcoat or white primer, which you can get from several automotive parts supply stores in Punjab. They come as 2-part kits in the right proportion and with instructions including coverage information.

Luck & Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


December 3, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Dear Sir,
I need a formula of coating on mugs, photo frame, etc., so kindly tells me what chemicals suit it.

Thanks & Regards

Sachin Sharma
- Delhi, India
^


December 2012

A. Hi Sachin. We appended your inquiry to a thread which partially answers it:
1. If you just want to use the coating, either buy coating products marketed for the purpose or use urethane automotive clearcoats or primers.
2. If you are trying to formulate and market your own chemical formulation made from raw commodity chemicals, there are many books that cover how to formulate paints; or if you are already experienced in paint making, I would suggest that you search expired patents for formulations. But even then, you should experiment with the readily available automotive paints because your formulation will not be saleable unless it proves to be better in some way than a product which is affordable & available off the shelf around the world :-) Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^



March 21, 2013

Q. Ali I appreciate what you will done to make your own sublimation blank. If you don't mind, I want to know the procedure / formula to make the sublimation blank; I hope you will consider my request sympathetically.

Thanks & Regards,

Abdul Wahab
- Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
^


April 1, 2013

Q. Dear Sir,
First I thank you for your co-operation to every one.
Now we are start SUBLIMATION PRINT in Mumbai (INDIA) on Metal.
We request you please writeup that which chemical and its percentage along with process so we will easy to manufacture the chemical.
Regards

Hemant Musale
METAL INDUSTRIES - Thane, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA
^


April, 2013

Learn Sublimation For Hot Profits!

A. Hi Abdul; hi Hemant. Did you try Wilfredo Torres' super simple answer of just spraying your blanks with urethane two-part automotive clear coat, which he already offered twice? If not, is there a reason that it isn't applicable to your needs?

When an answer has been offered that appears simple, cheap, and universal, why endlessly belabor the question? But if Wilfredo's answer has proven unsatisfactory in some way, we'd love to hear the results/reasons so we can continue to learn rather than drown in dull, endless repetition of the same abstract question. Thanks!

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


May 15, 2013

Q. Getting inconsistent results sublimating using automotive finishes we sublimate.

1/4" to 5/16" thick aluminum disks, using sprayed automotive base coat/clear coat finishing systems. We have a approx. 35% loss rate due to off gassing. We are using a 160 °C, 15 min, vacuum oven. If anyone has any help or advice using a urethane clear coat to sublimate onto, please.

Christopher Johns
- MANCHESTER, New Hampshire, USA
^

----
Ed. note: Thanks Christopher. That's the kind of posting which moves the discussion forward! :-)


September 24, 2013

Q. I am so appreciative of all of the information being given here. I hate to keep asking the same questions over & over but I am still a bit confused. I am interested in either the hairspray Rave4X (for obvious cost-effectiveness) or 2-part automotive clear coat options. I am going to start doing sublimation onto tumbled marble tile. My question is: for either of these processes would I need to bake the tile before sublimating? Or just spray and let dry?
My prior process was a bake transfer with lots of hands on labor so I'm hoping these techniques will save lots of time!

Lara Wilkin
- Santa Clarita, California
^


September 24, 2013

A. Hi Lara. Although Angela suggested Rave4X here, she also has a later posting on letter 25612 suggesting Dyepress [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] instead. I probably wouldn't consider that a retraction about hair spray, but a clarification on its limitations. I think two-part automotive clearcoat does not require baking, but the sublimation process itself will later require heating to make the dyes sublimate (convert from solid to gas).

Porous materials absorb small amounts of moisture from the air, which cannot help but turn to steam at high temperatures and force their way through the coating. So, although I haven't done sublimation, as a general rule I'd expect that you should bake such stuff immediately before coating. Good luck!

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


September 30, 2013

Q. Frustrated. Just bought a new Ricoh 3110 and heat press to upgrade my tumbled marble tile image business and can't seem to get things to work! I have sublimation ink and the computer properly configured for printing, researched time and temp (200 °C for 8 minutes). I have tried the Rave4x hairspray as well as the 2 part automotive spray coating techniques, and still my images are coming out very faint. Anyone have any suggestions to what I am doing wrong?

Lara Wilkin [returning]
- Santa Clarita, California
^


October 1, 2013

A. Have you asked Ricoh? You probably are not the first to have this problem.
If they are no help, I would contact tech services of a competing company to see it their product will work and how they do it.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
^


April 17, 2014

A. HI EVERYBODY

I TOO DO SUBLIMATION ON CERAMIC ITEMS AS A HOBBY AND OF COURSE I USED TO BUY THE SUBSTRATES. I ALSO HAVE AN IDEA OF MAKING MY OWN SUBSTRATES BUT STILL NOT HAVE TRIED ANY BECAUSE I COULD NOT FIND THE NECESSARY INGREDIENTS THAT I HAVE READ IN MOST SITES.

THANKS FOR THE MANY SUGGESTIONS HERE AND I ALSO NOTICED THE FAILURES ENCOUNTERED AFTER TRYING THOSE SUGGESTIONS. MANY OF THOSE WHO FAILED HAVE NOT MENTIONED ABOUT THE TYPE OF SUBLIMATION PAPER USED SO IT MAY BE THE PROBLEM LIES THERE.

NIZAM THAHA
- COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
^


March 28, 2021

Q. @Lara Wilkin
Hi Lara,
I'm too thinking of sublimation onto tumbled marble tiles.
Did you get something to work in the end?

Thanks
Eoin

Eoin Brannon
- Galway -Ireland
^



June 3, 2014

Q. DEAR SIR,

WE ARE DOING MEMENTOES, SIGNS, NAME BOARDS, ALLIED WORKS.

NOW WE WISH TO INTRODUCE SUBLIMATION RELATED ITEMS.

SO KINDLY, ADVISE US THAT HOW TO MAKE COATING ON ACRYLIC IN REGARDING SUBLIMATION TRANSFER

KINDLY REPLY WITH YOUR VALUABLE ADVICE.

THANKS & REGARDS

NAGENDRAN VISWANATHAM
- CHENNAI, TAMILNADU, INDIA
^


June 17, 2014

A. Hi, I can remember Sublimation back to 1971. I've been doing Sublimation on Tiles since 1995. I used to get my coatings from America which was called COATOM from a company called novachrome.com; they have since closed. I do Tile murals with as many as 300 tiles and I now get my coatings from digicoat.com, I have tried my own coating including car clear coat and it does not work.

This is all a secret; why should we disclose it when it took us over 20 years to work it out? The bottom line is if you looking for the coating you have to buy it or carry on regardless.

Zack DP
- Nottingham UK
^


February 26, 2015

A. I have to agree with Zack to an extent. Some of us have spent A LOT of time and money to figure this out. I myself have tried several different coatings to save money. I don't feel this is a place to cut corners. The coating I currently use is DigiCoat. Works great! What I have found is the easiest place to save money is on the printer and ink. You don't need to spend a grand on a printer and 60+ dollars per color on ink. I have also found your press times and temps will very depending on your weather. Good luck.

Mike Henderson
- Phoenix Arizona
^


June 2014

thumbs up signHi Zack, Hi Mike. True that few of us are willing to share all that we have or all that we know, but most of us can afford to share something ... as you have done. Thanks!

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


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