T-Shirt Forums banner
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

Registered
Joined
4,497 Posts
You are looking for a flavor of "unicorn". An affordable, durable, low-hand means of printing low-volume, full-color art on dark garments.

While the ideal of the unicorn is unattainable (at least so far), there are various ways to cobble together an old nag with a toilet paper core stuck to its forehead. What you suggest is in theory one of them. Sublimation works with plastic, polyester in particular. Screen printing inks, as far as I know, are not made out of polyester. Though somewhere along the way I have seen a video where a guy screen printed some goop on a shirt then seemed to do a (maybe) sublimation transfer over that ... was a while ago, and he was being vague.

Anyway, sure, can be done one way or another. But after you have succeeded in getting a thick opaque rectangle of white polyester goop down on your black shirt and have sublimated an image to it, is it a unicorn or an old nag with a paper cone? You might have succeeded in creating a colorful version of a bullet proof vest, or maybe no worse than a decently printed full-chest Plastisol print, but certainly not a zero-hand sublimation print. Is the polyester-laced goo as durable as Plastisol? Hell, maybe it would even work on regular Plastisol to some extent, don't know. I'm sure someone will chime in with an experiment they have done, or seen done. I don't know what the guy used that I described above, as he was being cagey about the process, but still feeling the need to show off.

I've been messing about with my own cone-headed nag. Discharge print a white rectangle and then heat press a JPSS transfer over it. Of course, got to wash that nasty discharge stuff out first, and need to allow a bit of slop so the transfer overlaps onto the colored part of the garment. Again, the end result is not a zero hand print, but a JPSS transfer, which especially at first feels like what it is, a piece of plastic stuck to the shirt (the feel improves with a few washings, but is still not zero hand).

In my case, my cone-headed nag is good enough for my purposes. I discharge print garments with white rectangles in bulk, then print and press the transfers as needed for orders. So a half-butted way to POD full-color art on dark garments. Oh, and I'm printing the JPSS with sublimation ink, though it is intended for use with pigment inks. I'm not doing that because of the miracle of sublimation, but because due to the covid supply chain catastrophe, I had to convert my 13x19 printer to sublimation, so no longer have a pigment printer large enough to do shirt transfers. I've been told that using sublimation inks with these transfers is inadvisable, but it seems to be working out okay so far.

But, again, no particular reason to use sublimation unless it is the only printer you have access to, since one is negating all the special attributes of sublimation (zero hand, extreme durability) by taping a paper cone to a nag in the first place. That nice, nice sublimation ink will only be as "magical" as whatever trick you use to get it to show up on a black shirt, and only that durable, and only that nice feeling.

So what is your specific use case?


EDIT Ha! I remembered that we have these fancy new emoticons ... 馃
 

Registered
Joined
60 Posts
If you search for "all over sublimation" you'll find one way of doing it. Basically you make a print bigger than a white shirt and then sublimate onto it as usual but using a very large heatpress. If you do the front and the back then it can look like a black shirt. I guess the inside is still white though.
 

Registered
Joined
22 Posts
It's going to depend on the manufacturer you use for your inks. I am not sure if they sell white inks usually for sublimation. I imagine it will come out like a dark grey though since the shirt is already black to begin with.
 

Registered
Joined
4,497 Posts
It's going to depend on the manufacturer you use for your inks. I am not sure if they sell white inks usually for sublimation. I imagine it will come out like a dark grey though since the shirt is already black to begin with.
No such thing as white sublimation ink 馃槓 Sublimation is a dye process, and can only darken the substrate, never lighten it, as there are no pigments. That's why it must be done on a white substrate, or at least a substrate that is lighter in tone than the image.
 

Registered
Joined
9,952 Posts
If I want to do sublimation on a black shirt, can I use screen printing to create a white under base and then sublimate on top of it? If not, then what are some alternatives?
Color works from light to dark, not the other way around.
 

Administrator
Joined
18,441 Posts
You need not screen print. The best way I found is "sublimating onto heat transfer vinyl and then pressing onto the black shirt". Actually, I referred to an article and got this answer. You can try.
Ref: How to Do Sublimation on Black/Dark Shirt?
To be clear, this is not sublimating a black shirt. It is applying a sublimated transfer to a black shirt. Just as you could do with plastisol transfers or inkjet transfers for dark garments.

Your mileage with vary with using vinyl. Biggest complaint is fading.
 

Registered
Joined
4,497 Posts
If I want to do sublimation on a black shirt, can I use screen printing to create a white under base and then sublimate on top of it?
It is possible but you will need 2 screens.
One to screen-print the discharge base and one for the polymer coating.
Personally, I don't like the way it looks on black t-shirts, but you can get decent results on lighter colors.
 

Registered
Joined
475 Posts
Bottom line is, you can't. At least not with a cost-effect, quality product as the end result. There are many decorating methods for many different applications and it's advisable to choose the proper method for your blank. There's no such thing as white sublimation ink, and the CMYK inks are translucent so it becomes an additive color of the substrate. If you apply vinyl or any other coating on top of the garment and then sublimate on top of that, you don't have a sublimated shirt; at least not by the definition of sublimation. So if you can't get a no-hand, high quality end product, then why bother. There are other options, just not sublimation. Too many people trying to spend $100 to make a $10 product.
 

Registered
Joined
53 Posts
I did see a video where they used bleach to whiten the shirt, peroxide to neutralize the bleach, then dyesub鈥檇 it. It would only work if you knew the shirt was manufactured with white fabric then dyed black. But many shirts are born gray then dyed darker.

As clumsy as I am, I don鈥檛 need all those fluids making a swamp on my workbench, then laying out garments everywhere to dry, it鈥檚 just not worth it in my mind.
But鈥
What if you did a forever white print base then dyesub on top? Alignment would be an issue to be sure. Soft hand I would think. Anyone try that?
 

Registered
Joined
475 Posts
I did see a video where they used bleach to whiten the shirt, peroxide to neutralize the bleach, then dyesub鈥檇 it. It would only work if you knew the shirt was manufactured with white fabric then dyed black. But many shirts are born gray then dyed darker.

As clumsy as I am, I don鈥檛 need all those fluids making a swamp on my workbench, then laying out garments everywhere to dry, it鈥檚 just not worth it in my mind.
But鈥
What if you did a forever white print base then dyesub on top? Alignment would be an issue to be sure. Soft hand I would think. Anyone try that?
That process uses a 65% Cotton / 35% Polyester shirt; as bleach only works on cotton. Once bleached, the 35% polyester will take the sub ink but the final product is heavily stressed. Also, those shirts don't last long because the bleach weakens the cotton fibers. It's simply an inferior product and not a true sublimation process. Is is a decorating process? Sure, I guess. But it's not really sublimation.

And "soft hand" is not the same as "no hand". And sublimation on top of Forever White tends to fade prematurely.
 

Registered
Joined
53 Posts
Thanks
That process uses a 65% Cotton / 35% Polyester shirt; as bleach only works on cotton. Once bleached, the 35% polyester will take the sub ink but the final product is heavily stressed. Also, those shirts don't last long because the bleach weakens the cotton fibers. It's simply an inferior product and not a true sublimation process. Is is a decorating process? Sure, I guess. But it's not really sublimation.

And "soft hand" is not the same as "no hand". And sublimation on top of Forever White tends to fade prematurely.
Very true. Thanks for the info!
 

Registered
Joined
5 Posts
If I want to do sublimation on a black shirt, can I use screen printing to create a white under base and then sublimate on top of it? If not, then what are some alternatives?
Hi. There is no unsolvable problem. Press a water-based barrier layer. Let the silk number be 55.
 

Registered
Joined
4,497 Posts
That process uses a 65% Cotton / 35% Polyester shirt; as bleach only works on cotton. Once bleached, the 35% polyester will take the sub ink but the final product is heavily stressed.
You've got this backwards. The shirts used for this are 65% poly and 35% cotton.

Also, those shirts don't last long because the bleach weakens the cotton fibers.
Not true either. Shirts with 50% or more polyester are much stronger than 100% cotton.
Personally I do prefer wearing 100% cotton, but I always get those mystery holes on my tees. Never on 50/50 or 65/35 tees.
The reality is that diluted and subsequently neutralized bleach will not do any damage.

It's simply an inferior product and not a true sublimation process.
It is sublimation, and it does have its uses.
You may want to call the example bellow "inferior", but people do pay money for this vintage look.
Hair Joint Hairstyle Fashion Neck

This type of print is also possible on 100% cotton as well, but you will need the two screen method I've already mentioned in my previous post.
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top