Sublimation Photography

Can anyone help me understand the principles and uses of sublimation photography -perhaps there is a usefull link you know of?

I am hearing of it used in low production run corporate branding exercises.


What exactly do you mean? Printing photographs with a dye-sublimation printer? Using sublimation to print photographs on rigid substrates?


purplepeopledesign I am more interested in printing onto substrates although I also want to understand the process in general. I guess one thing that intrigues me is “sublimation”; to me that implies a chemical process where a solid converts to a gas without an intermediate liquid state.

At any rate any information is appreciated.


In general, the process involves a heat source, some kind of solid (often powdered) colourant and a substrate that can accept the colourant.

Laser printers are a form of sublimation. Paper → Toner → Fuser

Inkjet printers are being used as sublimation colour sources for enamel coated substrates. Printing on specially coated paper creates the solid colourant. This requires a heat press at 100s deg F. The pressing force is as critical as the temp.

ID card printers use sublimation to dye PVC for credit cards, et al.

Just about any process that starts with a solid colourant and uses heat takes advantage of sublimation.

To firms that have been doing it a long time are:

Sawgrass Systems


Also check out Xerox… they did invent toner printing and Canon, one of the largest OEM print engine mfg.

Many substrates do not allow sublimation printing. That is why screenprinting and padprinting still exist. The new digital solvent printers are making headway, but the resolution and opacity of the process is still an issue.


Thank you very much for the information and links I am now up to speed on the process and will follow the progress of solvent printers as you suggest. I was interested in printing to acrylic and it appears that this is an ideal process to do so -especially in low production runs.

Thanks very much again!