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Bethesda, MD 20814
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Washington Graphic Services is a Washington DC area Graphic Design Communications Company. We specialize in the design and development of marketing materials, brochures, annual reports, logos, customized graphics, web sites and website maintenance, ecommerce solutions, custom web applications, content management websites and branding.

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Dye Sublimation Or Screen Printing – What Would I use?

john mier

Dye sublimation printing is an printing process that is currently popular in the print market. This process is digital and works well with smaller runs and with projects that have many colors. There are many other printing techniques in use today including the well-established practice of screen printing. Though screen printing is often common for producing items like personalized t-shirts and apparel, dye sublimated fabric is opportune for custom banners, flags, trade show displays, wall, window graphics, interior and exterior signage and pop up banner stands.

Screen printing is a printing process in which a stencil is used, ink is applied to the open areas of the stencil and the ink is transferred to a substrate using a fill blade or squeegee that moves across the press. The ink is forced through the mesh openings onto the item that is being printed. Screen printing can also be referred to as silk screen, serigraphy or serigraph printing.

The dye sublimation printing process requires two steps. First, the custom graphics are digitally printed on a transfer paper as a mirror image of the original. The transfer paper is then inserted into a heat press which sublimates the print, meaning the graphics transfer from a gas to a solid without passing through a liquid stage, onto a polyester fabric or polymer material.

Screen printing can only produce one color at a time and if the graphic has multiple colors, the colors will be layered over the substrate individually. With multiple colors, if the stencil isn’t properly aligned the result can be a messy and imprecise printed output. Since dye sublimation first starts with a digital print, all colors are imprinted at the same time and there is no risk of the inks running or the colors not lining up. Detailed prints with multiple color profiles are produced at their finest quality with a dye sublimation printing technique.

If too much ink is used in the screen print, inks can run or become splotchy. However, dye sublimated prints dry instantly due to the heat press that is used at the very end of the printing process. In a screen printing process, ink can leak from the previous print and show up on unwanted substrates. This incident is known as “ghost imaging” and can occur if the tools used aren’t properly cleaned after each use.

Screen printing merely places ink on top of the substrate whereas dye sublimation printing allows inks to permeate the fibers of the material. A screen printed image may crack in time, unlike a dye sublimated graphic print. To truly saturate the material with ink, dye sublimation is the best printing option.

Washington Graphic uses a dye sublimation printing process for a durable print on custom advertising displays that won’t bleed, run, fade or crack over time. Great for indoor/outdoor flags, teardrop banners, feather banners and quick fabric pop-up displays, a dye sublimation graphic print can capture minute details and an array of colors in a way that conventional screen printing cannot. You are welcome to contact us about how our high-quality dye sublimation printing technique can brilliantly showcase your personalized message at any indoor or outdoor venue!