Many people are hesitant to dye sublimation on aluminum metal because they don’t know-how. Luckily, it’s not too difficult if you follow some simple steps.
When dye sublimation on aluminum metal is done right, the process can produce very stunning results. Sublimation is a great way for artists to create unique pieces that are durable and long-lasting. It is also an excellent alternative for those who want to do something different than their typical paper or canvas art projects.
We will discuss the tools needed, how-to steps, and tips for success with each step of the process. However, it can be challenging, so we hope you find these instructions helpful!
What is Sublimation on Aluminum?
Dye sublimation is a process of infusing dyes into a sheet of aluminum via heat transfer. This allows for the dye to be transferred from the paper substrate onto a finished product. Such as metal prints and other custom items using aluminum die-cutting. It can also be used with polymer clay or any other product that comes in sheet form, like foil.
The process is primarily used in custom printing of photo-quality images onto aluminum sheets. Because the dye is sublimated into the metal, it will never fade or change color over long periods of time. The resulting product has a high-gloss finish that preserves the image for decades. Sublimation also allows an unlimited number of prints to be made from a single digital file.
Sublimation is also the most cost-effective way to produce custom aluminum products. Since it uses a print process. Businesses can use their existing laser or inkjet printers and have the image printed directly onto the metal substrate using dye sublimation inks. Available in both gloss and matte finishes.
The dye sublimation process can be used on a wide range of metal substrates. From standard aluminum to stainless steel, brass, and other materials.
Equipment’s you need for Dye sublimation on aluminum
Dye sublimation is a way to make prints on various products. It involves using burners and screens. Plus there are different kinds of supplies depending on what product you want to print on. We will discuss the materials needed for printing on aluminum cans, cups, and mugs as well as plastic bags.
Here are the supplies you need to dye sublimate on aluminum cans, mugs, cups, etc. We’ve also included the prices paid for these items at my local suppliers.
You will be needed:
- Aluminum cans, cups, or mugs (any metal surface will work)
- A screen printing mesh called SubliMesh A – 73/100 (100 mesh is the smallest size. 73 means it’s .73 mm openings which are fine for dye sublimation.)
- Burners called EcoSub Lava Heat Trays (these trays come in different shapes and sizes depending on what you’re printing.)
- A wax called SubliMelt Wax A. This is the wax that melts inside of the burner to help keep your screen from sticking to it. When you try to pull your image. Just a warning, some people say this wax smells like bacon. We don’t think it smells like bacon, but your room might smell like it for a few hours.
- A pressurized dye sublimation ink called SubliJet A .(This is the ink that goes on top of the screen with your image and gets sprayed into the can or mug to transfer your image.)
- -A spray called SubliJet D (this is what you use to transfer your image onto the metal. It’s a clear coat and it lays on top of your image. It helps protect it and makes it more durable.)
- A paper called ExPress It Transfer Paper. (this is the stuff that gets sandwiched in between your screen and your image to transfer it onto the container.)
- An oven (this is totally optional because you can also use a heat press to transfer your designs. This is what we like to do if I’m transferring images on several containers at once.)
Process of Dye Sublimation on Aluminum
So, to transfer dye onto aluminum plates (aluminum sheets) the process goes like this:
- Clean the surface of anodized aluminum which will become your print plate, scrubbing with soap and water until it is very clean. Rinse thoroughly in fresh running water. Allow drying completely.
- Place this sheet with your transfer image onto your substrate (aluminum plate) which is also on a clean dry press cloth. Iron again using maximum heat for 4-8 seconds.
- Now gently peel away the sublimation carrier sheet, making sure you are holding it on all four edges. If some dye is still sticking to the carrier sheet then either iron again for a further 2-3 seconds or use a solvent such as acetone, which will help dissolve the foil carrier, but be careful of fumes from this solvent.
- Leave to cool naturally
- Your image is now ready to be placed onto your aluminum plates for use in any decorating process
Sublimation on Aluminum Process Precautions
Dye sublimation on the aluminum process is new printing technology. It has many advantages like high-end print quality, non-contact, low manufacture cost, and various kinds of color use. The main process of dye sublimation on aluminum is divided into many steps like material preparation, printing head cleaning, substrate heating, screen setting, and calibration.
Which are required to get the best print. Another important point is that some damages can happen during or after the dye-sublimation printing process on the Aluminum foil if not done properly.
In the dye sublimation process, Aluminum foil which comes from rolls has to be cut into small pieces and then stacked. After that, the tabbing material should be attached which covers all of the aluminum layers to protect them from scratches. Then the protective film is put on top of the tabbing material to prevent it from being damaged.
Screen Setting and Calibration
Before starting the printing, the screen has to be checked and calibrated in order to get a proper result. First of all, register marks are needed on the aluminum foil which is used for print because it is difficult to see them after the dye sublimation process.
Then measuring tape is attached to the substrate which will be used for the printing2 later. After that, a special pen is used to mark registration marks on the measuring tape which will be used as a reference point in the calibration process.
In order to start printing, firstly you have to enter a proper ink recipe into the sublimation printer’s memory by entering the necessary information about the material, color, and ink usage. After that, the printing head has to be heated up for about 20 minutes and after it is done, the printing process will start.
The heated-up printer’s heads need to clean before starting any print in order to avoid any possible damage which may happen during and after the printing process.
After Printing Process
While dye-sublimation printing on Aluminum foil is still hot, another protective film has to be put over it. After the process cools down, tabbing material will be removed, and then you can see your finished product.
Here is some other top idea for sublimation printing. You can also consider them, and start customization!
What is Dye Sublimation
Dye sublimation is a process in which dyes are transferred from a solid carrier to a receiving substrate by means of heat and pressure. The dye molecules, which have been bonded to the carrier using a chemical reaction, temporarily become super-saturated with solvent as they pass onto the substrate. When heated, some dye molecules become “sublime,” or transition to a gaseous phase, and bond with the carrier.
It is important that both the dye and substrate reach a temperature of between 220-250 degrees Celsius in order for an effective transfer to take place. The time required varies depending on several factors including the specific dyes being used, what type of carrier material is being used, and the color of the dye.
In order to achieve a permanent bond between dye and substrate. It is very important to pass the hot press using appropriate pressure for 5-10 seconds after heating in a direct contact method. If a heat roller is not available then a normal iron or even a simple hairdryer can be used.
Dye Sublimation On aluminum – FAQs
Dye sublimation is a printing technique that allows for the transfer of images onto many different surfaces. One such surface happens to be aluminum, which can be coated with a protective topcoat and used in signage or other displays.
Dye sublimation on aluminum has many benefits for the company. It will be less expensive than other printing options. It is more durable and lasts longer, and it can print any color imaginable with no ink limitations. If you are looking to make your products stand out from the competition or want a unique packaging solution. Dye sublimation may be an option worth considering.
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