First thing’s first. Dye sublimation printing only works effectively for synthetic fibres like recycled polyester.
As polyester is the fabric of choice for the majority of our clients, it is basically our duty as custom clothing manufacturers to shine more light on the topic. Mostly because polyester fabric on its own isn’t very eco friendly, even when the yarn is made from recycled water bottles.
Why do we say this? If the polyester clothes don’t end up in a landfill, they’ll end up in the water streams as microplastics.
There are ways to reduce the amount of microplastics leaving our washing machines but even more can be done before.
For instance, the process of making such clothes should be as green as possible. And that’s what we’d like to talk to you about.
Dye Sublimation – Polyester Clothes’ Lord and Saviour
This method of applying colour to the fabric is the ecological lifeline for the synthetic fibres. That’s because it is possible to colour them while making zero negative impact on the environment.
With dye sublimation, you will use 5 ml of water-based ink to dye 1 kg of recycled polyester clothes as opposed to traditional dyeing that uses up to 200 l for the same amount of clothes.
Not only that but you wouldn’t use any harmful substances along the way. Also, the sublimation ink penetrates the fibre on a cellular level and doesn’t wash away. Therefore, it’s more effective than traditional dyeing.
If you are planning to make promo wear or sportswear, dye sublimation is ideal for you, because these product are more often than not made from synthetic fibres.
How Does Dye Sublimation Work?
To use this colour application method, you need two machines – dye sublimation printer and a textile calender for sublimation.
Dye sublimation printers use special inks and special heat-resistant paper. The reverse images are printed on the paper.
Textile canlender for sublimation is essentially a powerful heat press that helps the “magic of sublimation” happen. It is “fed” with both the paper and the fabric.
In it, the inks from the paper change their physical state from solid to gaseous and transfer to the fabric. When in the fabric, the inks go back to solid-state.
This way, the inks bind with the fabric on a molecular level and can’t be washed away.
Sustainable Dyeing With FUSH
Most of our OEM clothing and private label clothing was made for clients asking for various types of sportswear. That means we’ve used a lot of polyester fabrics to make them.
Also, we’ve used our dye sublimation printers and heat calenders for sublimation and transfer printing a lot.
In fact, we used them so much that Epson has decided to let us test their SureColor SC-F9400H dye sublimation printer in the late 2019 before its official release earlier this year.
One fantastic feature of this printer is that it prints fluo colours. That means you can now get that neon green clothing line made while reducing the water consumption 40 000-fold.
We’ve invited a film crew to make a video tour of our Belgrade factory. Our printing department got one of the “lead roles”.
At this moment, FUSH has a total of:
- – 10 Epson SureColor F6200 dye sublimation printers
- – 2 Epson SureColor F7200 dye-sub printers
- – 1 Epson SureColor SC-F9400H dye-sub printer
- – 3 Monti Antonio T120 textile calenders for sublimation
- – 1 XPRO DS170 calender for dye-sublimation
This is the Epson SureColorF9400H dye-sub printer with fluo colours that we had the honour to use before it was officially released in early 2020.
Why This Method Doesn’t Work on Natural Fibres?
You can but it doesn’t show very good results. Sublimation inks don’t bond well with cellulose, which cotton essentially is. That’s why, to achieve the best results when dyeing cotton, the traditional water-chugging method is still the only way.
However, scientists are constantly tinkering with different strands of bacteria to create natural dyes that achieve the same results as the traditional method. So there’s some light at the end of the tunnel in that aspect.
If you want to make clothes for physical activity, to achieve their best technical properties, you will have to use synthetic materials.
That’s because they have unparalleled moisture-wicking properties and those are the “make it or break it” kind of properties. So in a way, there’s no room for negotiation there.
On the flip side, synthetic fabrics have an unparalleled inability to decompose. That’s why, once people stop wearing them, they present a danger to the environment.
That’s why you as a clothing brand should do everything in your power to make the production process of those clothes as green as possible.
Dye sublimation gives you that chance.
It gives you the chance to advertise the fact that comparatively, you’ve used 40k times less water then the next manufacturer using traditional dyeing techniques.
And should you find a way to inspire your customers to upcycle their polyester garments, you’re keeping your clothes out of landfills, rivers, seas, and oceans.
Learn more about how FUSH goes around making clothes for startups, growing clothing brands, and established brands:
- OEM Clothing Manufacturer
- Private Label Textile Manufacturer
- CMT Garment Manufacturers
- FUSH Textile Machinery
Find out our lead times and pricing estimates by sending us your enquiry through the form below.