Crafts & DIY

Can You Sublimate On Rayon?

When it comes to making your own personalized clothing, sublimation is one of the best choices you can make.

If you know what you’re doing, you can make some super amazing designs, especially when it comes to t-shirts.  If you are looking for some extra flare you can add rhinestones for a personalize look.

Luckily, we’re knowledgeable about this subject. We’ve been experimenting with clothing printing for years and experienced the highs and the lows!

But sublimation is not always the best option for certain fabrics. Unfortunately, rayon is one such fabric that sublimation is not a good choice for, as it cannot deal with the heat transfer. 

However, there’s a lot more to understand than just this. Below, we’ve explained everything you need to know about the process. 

Read on to learn more. 

What Is Sublimation Printing?

Some readers have asked Sublimation Vs. Screen printing – what is best? check out this article for more information.  It’s first perhaps best that we explain exactly what sublimation printing actually is. Essentially, sublimation printing is a form of dye printing where heat transfers ink straight onto the material’s surface. We have had the question can you use sublimation ink for an inkjet printer, check out our article here for that answer.. 

You may also have heard of it referred to as direct thermal printing, which refers to how the ink is directly applied to the substrate, avoiding the middle layers. 

This form of printing can be excellent for some materials, but as we said – it will be no good for rayon. If you don’t know, rayon is a type of fabric that is made by spinning cellulose synthetic fiber and transforming it into yarn.

Rayon has been used for a very long time, usually in household products like bedding, curtains and some clothes. 

How Does Sublimation Printing Work?

So, as we said it’s a type of heat transfer printing where you are amalgamating both the ink and fabric to a surface. 

To begin, the initial design is printed on a specific type of paper and the inks that will be used are changed into gasses under the heat, which then combines with the fabric’s fiber. 

These effects are sought after because they are far less likely to fade over time – and because they are embedded within the fabric rather than printed over the top of the fabric, the effect will not peel in the wash. 

When we tried it, we absolutely loved the effects. They’re highly unique and we were surprised at how well the finished product was.

Think of it like getting a tattoo over drawing on your skin. You know that if you draw on your skin, the chances are you can easily wash it off – whereas when the ink dries and the tattoo heals – it will be a permanent fixture to your skin. 

Due to its effect, sublimation printing is becoming more and more popular, so special printing systems which you can buy for your home are selling fast! 

What Fabrics Can I Sublimate On?

The most recommended fabric for sublimation printing is polyester as you should get the best possible results. 

Unless you are using a polyester solution, the worst kinds of fabric you can use are cottons. Remember too, polyester is much less likely to fade – which is precisely the type of effect you are going for! 

We found it’s always better to use polyester. Even when we used something that had a percentage of polyester, the effects were never as good as 100% polyester. You can do a lot of great things with polyester fabric, my favorite is tie dye! We get a lot of questions on if you can tie dye polyester fabric, read our article to find out.

Is Rayon A Polyester?

Is Rayon A Polyester?

Both rayon and polyester are used in lots of the same things – the two fabrics are entirely different. 

Rayon is made from wood pulp which is dissolved in chemicals and cellulose fibers, and then it has to undergo lots of extra steps before we see the finished rayon product. 

Polyester on the other hand is a type of synthetic fiber that is famous for its strength and versatility, which tends to have very long fibers. 

Why Bother Using Sublimation Printing?

As we mentioned earlier, this type of method is one of the best and sought after because the finished product is extremely long lasting and should not fade over time – like a tattoo. 

Not only this, but due to the fact that you will be creating your own design to sublimate onto the fabric, you have huge creative potential – so essentially you’re in charge over the finished product. 

Does Heat Pressing Work On Rayon?

Yes and no. If the fabric is 100% rayon, then the process will not work. As with sublimation, rayon cannot cope with the heat and will likely melt or completely change its composition. 

However, blended forms of rayon with polyester or similar fabrics, you can likely get away with some forms of heat pressing.

To get a more tailored answer, you’d need to ask someone who works with heat pressing (such as t-shirt printing stores). 

What If My Fabric Is Not 100% Polyester?

Having 100% polyester fabric maximizes your chances of having a long lasting product with your chosen design.

Essentially, if your fabric is not entirely polyester, you run the risk of fading the design or losing it altogether in the first wash. 

You may decide it is worth testing this out and trying out your chosen fabric before you move on and print in mass. 

The Pros And Cons Of Sublimation Printing 

Of course, nothing is without its faults. Here’s some of the biggest pros and biggest cons. 

Pros 

  • First and foremost, the biggest pro is the fact that you have free reign to your chosen designs and you can go as crazy as you like with the ideas at your disposal. 
  • Next, the longevity of the finished product means you don’t need to worry about getting a new (e.g. t-shirt) due to fading.
  • Finally, you can get sublimation printing completed for small orders and you can do it at home!

Cons

  • The choice of materials that you can actually complete this process on successfully is incredibly limited. Even if you use it on some materials that aren’t polyester, the finish may not be permanent.
  • It’s possible to have white creasing on your products, which are essentially from unreached areas due to accidental folding in the printing process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sublimation Worth It?

Honestly, we found it to be. It’s a really unique way that you can get your designs on your clothing. When we tested it, we found it really fun to do and came up with some super cool designs. 

Is Sublimation Expensive?

It can be, but we found that it was well worth the money to invest in a personal machine. We did try both methods, but when we weighed up the pros and cons, we decided it was much better to do this at home.

Final Thoughts 

You should avoid sublimation printing for rayon as it cannot cope with the heat that the process must deal with.

Instead, consider using 100% polyester fabrics which should work and give you the best possible results. 

We hope this has been helpful. Good luck!

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Kelly Dedeaux

Kelly Dedeaux

Kelly Dedeaux

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