When you’ve decided to sublimate acrylic, the first step is to choose the right product.
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? There are a few different types of fabric on the market, and not all of them are suitable for sublimation.
Some fabrics are designed specifically for dye sublimation, while others can be used but may not produce the best results.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the different types of fabric, and help you select the one that’s best for your needs.
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? What is acrylic sublimation?
Sublimation printing is the process of printing your design onto a special sublimation paper using a sublimation printer. The design is then transferred onto your chosen substrate using heat and pressure.
An essential part of the quality of the image is the presence in the fabric of polyester (synthetic material) in an amount not less than 60%.
This is because the sublimation ink will only adhere to a polymer surface.
Another thing worth mentioning is the color of the substrate: the highest quality and brightest images with sublimation printing are shown only on a light fabric base.
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? What do you need for acrylic sublimation?
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? Yes, sure. To get started, sublimation material you’ll need:
A printer, sublimation ink, and sublimation paper
These are essentials for sublimation. You must buy a sublimation printer that meets your professional and personal requirements. You cannot use regular inks for the sublimation process.
Results depend on the quality of your printer and sublimation ink (This is different from regular ink, so make sure you have the right kind!).
For example, Epson EcoTank ET-1500 and ET-8550 are amazing choices. Combined with high-quality ink, these sublimation printers will not disappoint you. This rule also applies to a sublimation paper that sticks to the surface.
Heat press machine
You require a standard one to transfer the image onto the surface. You can also buy a portable heat press machine, but they might work a little bit worse.
Heat press using high temperature to transfer an image onto the sublimation paper. Usually requires a temperature between 350-400 °F.
Since acrylic is heat sensitive, it is a good idea to use the Cap Heat Press to ensure that only the area on the platen is exposed to the heat. The higher the temperature, the quicker the ink applies.
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? Sublimation acrylic material
Acrylic sheets/blanks/ fabric etc. Don’t stress too much about what acrylic material to choose, the only rule is that an acrylic surface is suitable.
Prefer extruded acrylic or cast acrylic. You’ll need white acrylic sheets, acrylic blanks or fabric for printing on t-shirts, and transparent acrylic blanks for acrylic keychains.
If you’re printing on light-colored fabric, you can use transparent acrylic, whereas on the dark fabric you’ll need white ones; otherwise, the results will be quite disappointing.
Note: Cast acrylic is preferred over extruded acrylic.
Vinyl/ white coat spray
If your acrylic sheet is white, it is recommended to use white spray or vinyl. The transparent acrylic sheet gives off a blurry finish that can be corrected with a white surface.
Butcher paper/ heat tape
Butcher paper is an additional piece of equipment that keeps sublimation paper on an acrylic surface from damage from the heat press machine during work. Heat tape is used for sealing and adhesion. It prevents the print from displacement during heat pressing.
Once you have all of your supplies, you’re ready to get started!
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? Software for sublimation design.
If you want to create your pattern or change the image, you’ll need good software. There are many options to choose from when it comes to software. You can try GIMP (free), Adobe Photoshop, or any other design program that meets your needs.
How to prepare your design for acrylic sublimation
You’ll want to make sure that your design is the right size and in the right format before you start sublimating.
First, open your design in an editing software of your choice. Then, resize your design to fit your substrate. For example, if you’re sublimating on a t-shirt, you’ll want to resize your design to be the size of a t-shirt.
Once you have your design resized, you’ll want to export it as a PNG file. This file type will preserve the transparent background around your design, which is important for the sublimation process.
How to print your design onto acrylic fabric
Now that you have your design file ready to perform sublimation, it’s time to print it onto your fabric!
To do this, you’ll need to set your sublimation printer settings to “mirror” mode so that your design prints in reverse onto the heat transfer paper. Then, load your transfer papers (sublimation papers) into the sublimation printer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Now for the sublimation coating for acrylic. After getting your paper sublimated, cut it out as close to the edges of the design as possible. Then, place the printed side facedown onto your fabric and use a heat press to sublimate the design onto the fabric.
For best results, use a piece of protective parchment paper over the top of the design before applying heat. Heat press settings will vary depending on the type of fabric you’re using, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for more information.
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? How to cure acrylic sublimation
Now that you have your design transferred onto your acrylic fabric, it’s time to cure it! But before you do, make sure to place a Teflon sheet or heat-resistant paper on top of your design.
This will prevent the colors from bleeding when you go to press them.
Then, set your heat press to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let it warm up. Once it’s heated, place your fabric face down onto the heat press.
Press for 60 seconds, then carefully peel back the Teflon sheet or heat-resistant paper to check if the design has been fully transferred. If not, put it back and press ac for an additional 10-20 seconds.
And that’s it! This is the whole procedure for sublimation on acrylic.
Can you sublimate on other types of fabric?
What about when there is a need to use natural dark-colored materials to produce an image? Materials deprived of polymer coating can’t be used for dye sublimation, i.e., cotton shirts. Resort to other technologies that are not quite satisfactory?
No, there are at least two ways out of any situation, as you know. In the case where sublimation is required, printing on a fabric that does not meet the above requirements is also possible.
Read also: What is the best shirt for sublimation?
It is not possible to print directly on cotton products, but:
There are fabrics consisting of two layers (sandwich). The lower one is natural (cotton, linen), and the upper one is made of polyester.
How to wash and care for your sublimated acrylic fabric
First things first: when you receive your sublimated fabric, it’s going to be stiff. This is normal! Just wash it in cool water with a mild detergent and let it air dry.
Once it’s dry, it will be soft and ready to use. And when you’re done, wash it in cool water on a gentle cycle. You can also machine dry it on low heat or lay it flat to dry.
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? Conclusion
You asking yourself – Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric? You can do acrylic sublimation! And now that you know how, you can start experimenting with different projects.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start sublimating acrylics!
You may also be interested: Can you use sublimation ink for regular printing?
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric: FAQs
Can you sublimate on acrylic fabric?
Yes, you can sublimate on acrylic. This is a process where you use heat to transfer a design onto a piece of fabric.
Can you heat-press acrylic?
You can totally heat press acrylic, but since acrylic is heat sensitive, ensure to always use a Cap Heat for any unexpected damage.
What materials can you not sublimate on?
Anything primarily made of natural fibers, such as cotton, silk, or wool, will not adequately absorb the dye.
What temperature does acrylic sublimate?
It requires a high temperature of up to 300/400 degrees.
Hi, I’m artist and sublimation printing expert. Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I had passion for photography and painting from my childhood. I started my career as a sublimation print operator for a local printing company in 2012. The role exposed gave me lots of practical knowledge about printing process, from managing color profiles to ensuring print quality on various materials.