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I noticed a lot of dye sublimated t-shirts are printed on t-shirts with a polyester type outside layer (or microfiber layer).

Can dye sublimation be done on regular 100% cotton t-shirts or 50/50 t-shirts, or does it have to be on that special type of tee?
 

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When dye sublimating, polyester t-shirts must be used because the dye bonds with the fibres in the polyester when heat is applied.

They make special t-shirts for this. Novachrome, and Xpres supply a good t-shirt. There is also the Hanes Soft L'ink but I don't really like these as much. I like the Novachrome Unisex White T-Shirt. Xpres make a great womens t-shirt, really nice plus the children's tees are great.

You can use 50/50 t-shirts but they aren't going to give the same results as you would get with a 100% poly tee because more dye is able to bond with the fibres.

There are sprays you can buy to spray onto the 50/50s so that the dye bonds. This will allow source more types of t-shirts, because waiting for the sublimation industry to produce different varietys of t-shirts is a long process. I've heard you can infact use a unscented hair spray instead of buying the spray.


Adam
 

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Hi Rodney,

Sublimation ink heat transfers work best on man made fiber such as polyester, nylon, satin, lycra, etc... It does not work on natural fibers such as cotton, wool, canvas, etc... When the sub transfer is heat pressed, it will show on any material (cotton, poly, canvas, lycra...), HOWEVER, if the heat transfer is on any man made fabric (cotton as an example), the image will wash out after the first and definately the second washing. It only works on man made fibers.

Currently there are some suppliers that do offer the poly/cotton garments where the poly fabric is on the outside of the garment and the cotton is on the inside. These shirts are a bit pricey...about $4.50+ for a white t-shirt. Many years ago, Xpres in NC sold a 65/35 blend t-shirts but felt very uncomfortable...$3.50 each.

For the commercial market (contractors, electricians, etc...) you can use 50/50 shirts with sub transfers but for years, I spray down a light mist of White Rain Unscented Hair Spray onto the shirt, place the sub transfer on it and then heat press as usual. The hair spray just gives the 50/50 material a little "extra" so the image will last longer. Eventually, the sub ink image will wash out of the cotton portion of the shirt, but not on the polyester fabric. Your image may look a little faded or washed out over time. I do NOT use 50/50 blend and sub transfers for my wholesaling. For 100% cotton, canvas, 50/50, etc... I use pigmented heat transfers. These transfers are made for 100% and other fabrics.

I tried the prep sprays and having miserable results with them years ago, now use the White Rain only. Mind you, this is ONLY for the commercial market. Do not use sub on 50/50 shirts for your onesie's or any retail type trade.

Hope this helped a bit.

Fred
http://www.uscolorprint.com
 

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Has any one ever tried using SofTee as a pretreatment sheet on a 50/50 or cotton shirt then applying the dye sub over that. I've read a number of places where you could do that as a two step process, but I've never heard how well it holds up (except from the people selling it). Supposedly, it applys a synthetic layer to the shirt that the dye sub can bond to.

Also worth note is that laser dye sub is supposed to work with 50/50 and cotton because the clc paper they use has the synthetic coating. According to what I've read, we can use the same sheets with inkjet dye sub in a two step process. Any one have any experience with any of this? Does it actually work and hold up with washing?

Does laser dye sub on 50/50 work better than ink jet? I know it's a bigger investment to get into, but it it works then I think it might be worth it.
 

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We tried using blank CLC pressed at 10 seconds and then the dye sub. This was on a grey 50/50 shirt. We didn't care for the results but the image was better. What we didn't like is the 'stain' from the CLC paper.
 

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I have an oki 5200 that i use for laser dye sub.
To print to 50/50 shirts with the dye sub toner I use Hottee Paper from ati transfers . It works great.. and it does not wash out.. If it is a logo or sumthing with bare areas aound it.. i do cut 1/4 to 1/8 inch around so that the polyester from the transfer paper does not leave a window.. It has little or no hand. When using other color Shirts besides white i can also use the regular release paper made for the dye sub laser and cotton trans spray.. This also holds up very well.. with little or no hand. I have found the washablity and colors on both of these to be great..
 

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I have an oki 5200 that i use for laser dye sub.
To print to 50/50 shirts with the dye sub toner I use Hottee Paper from ati transfers . It works great.. and it does not wash out.. If it is a logo or sumthing with bare areas aound it.. i do cut 1/4 to 1/8 inch around so that the polyester from the transfer paper does not leave a window.. It has little or no hand. When using other color Shirts besides white i can also use the regular release paper made for the dye sub laser and cotton trans spray.. This also holds up very well.. with little or no hand. I have found the washablity and colors on both of these to be great..
Hi, I have the same setup, but so far I'm not at all happy with the results.
I keep getting the grey window on whites. how many seconds and what
pressure do you use? what cotton trans spray-where do you get it?
I got some white stuff in a bottle from Al, for use with release paper. so far made things worse. In fact the release paper worked best without it.
thanks for your help. I'm using 50/50 white t-s.
jimmy
 

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I would think that using transfer papers and synthetic substrates to allow application to 50/50 or 100% cotton shirts defeats the purpose of dye-sub. You might as well just use durabrite inks and the standard transfer papers....probably less expensive than dye-sub. The beauty of dye-sub printing is the transfer of only the ink to the shirt, no paper to trim, no paper actually transfers.

I would like to see a 50/50 shirt that has been dye-sub printed and washed a few times. I am wondering if it would give a vintage faded looking effect? A look similar to say water based printing inks or that discharge technique.
 

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Hi David, I have tested dye sub on 50/50's. It has a faded vintage look. The reason obviously is that the ink is ony adhering to the 50% polyester of the shirt. It does adhere to the cotton but gets washed out or fades fairly quickly after a few washes. But for a quick vintage look it is not all that bad. If it designed properly with some distressed scratches and such and use those new distressed T's it might be a big seller.

I use an Epson 4000 with Artainium UV+ inks.

Alex
 

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I agree with Ron - unless you deliberately create your graphics with distressed feel, the design on 50/50 will look washed out and poor quality rather than vintage (my humble opinion).
When printing full colour graphics I think it's better to stick with higher % of polyester.
I have posted some pictures to compare on this thread:
http://www.t-shirtforums.com/need-help-finding-t-shirt/t4773.html
 

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How does Cafe Press do it? They are dye-sub right? but they advertise their some of their shirts as

"Our 100% cotton, women's long sleeve tee is preshrunk, durable and guaranteed. Constructed of mid-weight jersey, it's just the right weight for layering. Side seamed construction provides a perfect shape, for a contoured but loose fit."

What's up with that?
 

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CP are not dye sub (for their t-shirts anyway - they might be for other items). They started with digital inkjet transfers, they now also offer DTG in addition to the transfers.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
How does Cafe Press do it? They are dye-sub right? but they advertise their some of their shirts as
Yes, CafePress uses a direct to garment machine from Kornit to print their dark shirts.

The coffee mugs, mousepads are printed with dye sublimation (I think).

The white t-shirts are heat transfers or direct to garment printed (shopkeepers choice). They used to be only heat transfers (I think inkjet).
 

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When we trid to dye sub to 50/50 shirts, I was never satisfied with the results. They always looked dull compared to softlink shirts.

HHC11
 

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Hi David, I have tested dye sub on 50/50's. It has a faded vintage look. The reason obviously is that the ink is ony adhering to the 50% polyester of the shirt. It does adhere to the cotton but gets washed out or fades fairly quickly after a few washes. But for a quick vintage look it is not all that bad. If it designed properly with some distressed scratches and such and use those new distressed T's it might be a big seller.


Who sells those? brand specific? or am I not searching for the right thing. You can pm me if you like.
 

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When dye sublimating, polyester t-shirts must be used because the dye bonds with the fibres in the polyester when heat is applied.

They make special t-shirts for this. Novachrome, and Xpres supply a good t-shirt. There is also the Hanes Soft L'ink but I don't really like these as much. I like the Novachrome Unisex White T-Shirt. Xpres make a great womens t-shirt, really nice plus the children's tees are great.

You can use 50/50 t-shirts but they aren't going to give the same results as you would get with a 100% poly tee because more dye is able to bond with the fibres.

There are sprays you can buy to spray onto the 50/50s so that the dye bonds. This will allow source more types of t-shirts, because waiting for the sublimation industry to produce different varietys of t-shirts is a long process. I've heard you can infact use a unscented hair spray instead of buying the spray.


Adam
do you use hair spray for 100% cotton, to keep the image longer?
 

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try dura cotton. I got a sample and it looks great. Once I figure out the dye sub more I plan on trying it and seeing how it holds up. Like I said the sample I got looks great.
 
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