From the advent of the first printing press, there have been many progressions made in the art of transferring colors to a variety of materials. One of the more recent is dye sublimation printing. These computer operated printers are used with fabrics, plastics and a variety of paper products. They should not be confused with dye sublimation heat transfer imprinting printers, which operate and function differently. Those machines make transfers suitable for imprinting on textile materials.
With dye sublimation printing, a specially programed computer printer utilizes heat in order to transfer dye to the desired material. While some of them use the traditional colors found in most printers, others use a clear overcoat for the fourth color, eliminating the black option. The clear color helps to reduce discoloration and makes the item more resistant to water.
The machines are available for private and professional applications. Businesses, such as mammothimaging.com and other organizations use them to create identification cards. They are also useful for creating high quality photographic prints.
When used to make identification cards and other materials which require a bar code or black text, there are options available with all five of the colors. By including the extra dye panel, owners of the printer have additional flexibility with their creations and designs. The black panel functions through thermal transfer instead of dye diffusion.
The colors are generally applied one at a time as heating elements release the dye onto the preselected locations. Then, the clear top laminates the surface of the item.
Dye sublimation printing is superior technology when compared to inkjet printers. The machines are far cleaner and have a higher degree of accuracy and flexibility. However, users should be aware that the machine retains a perfect negative of the images it prints. Care should be taken with them if sensitive or private documents are handled through it.