Sublimating offers an alternative way to print on different items, including fabrics, but the problem with sublimation is that it is not ideal for all types of materials, so you do need to be careful with what you try to sublimate.
One such material that you might be tempted to sublimate on is nylon.
Can you sublimate on nylon? It is possible to sublimate on nylon, but it is mostly successful at lower temperatures. However, there are many types of nylon fabrics, and they all react differently to the dyeing process, so you do have to find the one that works best.
If you are wanting to try and sublimate on nylon, then read on to find out if it is possible, how you can do it, and what your chances of success might be!
What Is Sublimation?
Simply put, sublimation is a method of printing or dyeing fabric, which uses heat and dye to transfer a design onto fabric. You can achieve whole garment prints using the sublimation process, which helps with seamless designs.
The sublimation process involves placing a design onto a special type of paper. The ink on the paper is then turned into gas under heat, which is then placed onto the fabric, permanently printing the design onto the fabric.
This creates a colorful, permanent result that will not wash away, crack or peel. It is ideal for small batch designs and designs that contain quite a bit of detail.
Here’s an intro to sublimation for beginners from Design Bundles on YouTube.
What Is Nylon?
Nylon is a generic term given to a specific family of synthetic fibers, composed of polyamides. Generally, nylon materials are silk-like, and thermoplastic. It is most often made from petroleum, but this means that it does melt under heat.
There are many types of nylon fabrics, but most are quite heat-sensitive, and melt into a plastic-like material.
Is It Possible To Sublimate On Nylon?
It is possible to sublimate on nylon, but you do have to be quite careful when doing so, and you do need to make sure that you use the right type of nylon for the sublimation process.
When sublimating with nylon, you do need to do it at a lower temperature. This is because nylon has a low melting point, and if it is exposed to too high of a heat, then it might melt and the fabric would be ruined.
The other issue is how the nylon might react to the dye. In some cases, the nylon might only take on a light color from the sublimation process, but in other cases, it might work perfectly fine.
There are some nylon fabrics that have been pre-treated with certain chemicals and additives which help with dye absorption, so the nylon will hold onto the designs and the colors better.
It is generally accepted that nylon 6 and nylon 7 are best to use for nylon sublimation, as these have higher melting points, so they can go through the sublimation process with less chance of melting.
The best thing to do when sublimating with nylon is to test a small amount first. You do not want to print on the full piece and have it fail, so it is best to do a test patch or two to make sure that the sublimation will work.
How Easy Is It To Sublimate On Nylon?
Sublimating on nylon can be more difficult than sublimating on other fabrics, as it does have a melting point that might be reached during the sublimation process.
You do also have to do some test patches with nylon, as the sublimation might not always work, so it might be some trial and error before you get it right.
When sublimating on nylon, you would have to do it at a lower temperature, and this might mean that you have to press it for longer to get the design to stick and permanently blend with the fabric.
How Do You Sublimate On Nylon?
Sublimating on nylon follows a fairly similar process to sublimating onto other types of fabric, such as printing the design onto the special paper and then preparing all the tools necessary.
The difference when it comes to sublimation on nylon is that you will have to adjust the temperature and the pressing time. This allows the dyes to properly adhere to the fabric, without the nylon being subjected to a high enough temperature that it begins to melt.
When it comes time to press the fabric, you should lower the temperature to around 330°F, and leave it for between 80-90 seconds.
Once again, this does depend on the type of nylon you are using, so you will have to test it out first to make sure that the fabric is not ruined in the process.
Why Should You Sublimate On Nylon?
Nylon is more difficult to sublimate on compared to other fabrics, but there are some benefits that come with sublimating on nylon.
Nylon might not have great moisture-wicking properties, but it is long-lasting, and it can have some great stretch to it. It is a soft, smooth fabric, and makes for some great clothing and garment pieces.
It is a non-absorbent material, so it is also a great option to use for gym bags, sports gear, sweatshirts, and more, and these can all look great with some sublimated designs on them.
What Is The Right Temperature For Sublimating On Nylon?
Temperature is the most important factor to keep in mind when sublimating on nylon, as the melting point of nylon is around 500°F.
You need to make sure that the printing temperature is kept well below the melting point, to really reduce the chance of the fabric melting (which might also ruin the fabric press).
While the temperature will depend on the type of nylon you are sublimating, it is best to keep the temperature between 330-400°F. You can adjust the temperature as needed, but make sure that it does not come too close to the melting temperature.
However, the higher the temperature, the better the print and design will be, so it is quite a thin line that you need to tread when printing on nylon, so you will have to find the temperature that works best for you.
What Are The Best Options For Sublimation?
There are quite a few materials that you can sublimate on, and knowing which are the best options can help you achieve the best results.
Here are some of the best materials to use for sublimation:
Cotton is possibly the most common type of fabric used for sublimation. It is breathable, lightweight, and comfortable to wear. It also holds up well to the sublimation process.
Even once cotton has been sublimated, it retains all of its great qualities, and the printed design on the fabric is permanent and long-lasting, and just has a really great finish to it as well.
Polyester is another popular fabric used for sublimation. The polymers found in polyester open up well when exposed to heat, so it holds onto the dyes from the sublimation process well.
As the dye transfers to a gaseous state, it easily enters the pores in the polyester fabric, and sets in permanently, creating a clear and long-lasting design.
The benefit of using polyester is that it is a low-maintenance fabric and it remains wrinkle-free with little effort. There are also many types of polyester items to sublimate on, so you can really experiment with making a whole range of items!
Can You Sublimate On Nylon?
You can sublimate on nylon, but you do need to be wary of the temperature you use during the sublimation process, as nylon can melt when exposed to high heat.
When sublimating on nylon, you will have to test different types of nylon with different heat levels to find the one that works best, and it is best to test first on scraps of material so you don’t risk ruining the piece you are working on.
Watch the temperature, press the fabric for longer at a lower heat, and hopefully, the sublimation on nylon works out well!
What should you not sublimate on?
There are many things that you can sublimate on, such as metal, plastic or ceramic, but there are many things that you cannot sublimate on too.
You should always choose items that have been coated with special treatments to make the dyes more permanent so that it does not fade.
Can you sublimate on plastic?
It is risky to sublimate on plastic, as the plastic might melt under the heat of the sublimation process. Even if the plastic does not melt, it could warp and the item can be destroyed.
The plastic will need to be reinforced to prevent it from melting under the heat.
Can you sublimate on cardstock?
You can successfully sublimate on cardstock, but it is best to have the right equipment to do so so that you protect both the details in the design and the cardstock you are working on.
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