What is the dye sublimation process?

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 is known for yielding smooth, high quality and photographic printouts.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 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 printer 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.
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.The dye sublimation process holds certain advantages over inkjet printing, which is another common printing technology used with wide-format printers. It works great with photographic because it creates natural-looking images, which inkjet is sometimes unable to produce.

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 sublimation to work with uncoated paper.

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