How Dye Sublimation Works with Wide-Format Printers

How Dye Sublimation Works with Wide-Format Printers

Wide-format printers are remarkable in that different printer models work using different kinds of printing technologies. One such printing technology that is commonly used with wide-format printers is called dye sublimation.

The dye sublimation process is actually a versatile way of printing. It can be used on a wide variety of printing media, such as paper, fabrics, plastics and cardboard. This process of printing is known for yielding smooth, high quality and photographic printouts.

The Dye Sublimation Printing Process

The dye sublimation printing process works almost like the way thermal printing does. The dye ink used in this printing process is initially in a solid state, contained on a cellophane ribbon. Heat is an important component in this printing process; it is used to "melt" the dye off the ribbon.

Unlike in thermal printing, where the ink is actually melted to a liquid state before it is allowed to bind with the printing medium, the dye ink sublimates and completely bypasses the liquid state when heat generated by the thermal printer head is applied to it. From its solid state, it transforms to gas and disperses on the printing medium.

Printing using dye sublimation is done in layers of color. The primary colors cyan, magenta and yellow are spread upon the printing medium one layer after another. The gas inks then dry and solidify upon the medium.

Once these layers of color are put on the medium, a layer of laminate is coated upon the printout. What this layer of laminate does is to protect the integrity of the printout, as well as to shield it from discoloration caused by the air and by ultraviolet exposure.

Dye Sublimation as Compared with Inkjet Printing

The dye sublimation process holds certain advantages over inkjet printing, which is another common printing technology used with wide-format printers. Dye sublimation works great with photographic printing because it creates natural-looking images, which inkjet printing is sometimes unable to produce.

Dye sublimation is also a much cleaner printing process than inkjet printing. Because the dye does not enter the liquid state, there is less likelihood of the printer head getting clogged with dried ink.

On the other hand, inkjet printing can produce sharper and clearer images. Even with the protective coating, images created with sublimated dye can appear blurry compared to those made with inkjet printing. The gaseous state by which the dye needs to be in order to bind with the medium makes it difficult for dye sublimation to work with uncoated paper.

It is clear that dye sublimation printing with wide-format printers have their advantages and disadvantages. But whatever these are, this printing technology nonetheless provides a nice alternative in creating printouts.

This Article is written by John C Arkin, contributor of PrintCountry Articles.

This Article is written by John C Arkin.


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