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Sublimation Equipment 101: The difference between presses, wraps, and other special equipment

Learn the differences between certain sublimation equipment.

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For proper transfers for heat seal, vinyl or sublimation printing, you will need equipment that delivers a steady temperature and pressure to your items and printed transfers. This can be done with a heat press, silicone wraps or even vacuum presses. The most common of these equipment choices is a standard heat press, but silicone wraps and vacuum presses also offer some unique options of possibilities.

  • Heat Press: A heat press uses a flat metal platen that is heated, and a downward clamping arm to deliver a steady amount of heat and constant pressure to the full area covered by the platen. This type of equipment delivers the required heat and pressure quickly and efficiently for fast press times and a consistent production rate.
  • Silicone Wraps: For dye-sublimation transfers, you can also use silicone wraps, a rubber wrap with metal clamps or closure devices on either end that physically wrap around the outside of the object. The tension of the rubber delivers strong, even pressure across the entire wrapped surface. When placed into a pre-heated oven at sublimation or transfer temperatures, it is often able to replicate pressure and heat conditions without the need for additional specialty equipment. Due to the rubber nature of silicone wraps, they can also be used for items with more unconventional shapes, widths, and angles, providing a wide range of application for your dye-sublimation prints.
  • Vacuum Presses: Vacuum presses can also be used-these presses give off ambient heat much like a conventional or convection oven. Often, transfers are printed onto a specialty vacuum-formable sublimation film, which hugs the complex curves of an item snugly for an even and consistent transfer without “grins” in the result. Sublimation blanks are placed inside a tray that closely resembles a vacuum forming set-up, and when the vacuum is initiated, the film and cover are pulled down around the shape of the item, forming a perfect air-tight seal. This delivers a perfectly synchronized system of heat and pressure for stunning dye-sublimation decoration on a wide range of products.

-Kristen Harvey, Coastal Business Supplies

Kristen Harvey

Kristen Harvey has been with Coastal Business Supplies for six years and works to contribute to their website, content, and marketing efforts. She enjoys web and graphic design, the great outdoors, and groovy music.

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