When do I need “high speed” (HS) sublimation paper?
Regular sublimation transfer papers for open substrates typically show a gradual, ink absorption and dry relatively slowly. Transfer printers have adjusted to this phenomenon in different ways. In many cases, the slow drying does not pose a problem, even on fast inkjet plotters. Printers fall back upon a box of tricks to make sure that the paper is dry and, more importantly, smear-resistant before it is wound-up. The oldest and simplest trick is extending the paper path in the printer. This often is done by simply putting the rewind on the same side of the printer as the unwound, and by installing some extra rolls to guide the web underneath the printer. Sometimes, you see a separate winding stand at a short distance from the printer. Another solution is a heated plate under the printed paper that is sometimes combined with a heated plate before the printing heads. In many cases, an array of fans is used for additional convection drying. The above-mentioned tricks are so widely used that they are standard features on many printers.
After HS transfer paper made its appearance onto the market, ink manufacturers introduced similar “high speed” sublimation inks. All elements of transfer printing seem to be advancing in parallel with production speeds, be it the print heads, printers, paper or ink. We shall dedicate a separate article to the advances in sublimation inks sometime in the future.
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