Sublimation vs Digital Printing: Difference and Comparison

Nowadays, printing pictures and logos on various things is very popular and in trend, and sublimation and digital printing are two such technologies that transfer and print images on different kinds of materials. Both of these have different benefits and instructions, but their uses are the same.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sublimation printing uses heat to transfer dye onto fabric or ceramics, producing permanent, high-quality images.
  2. Digital printing directly applies ink to the substrate, making it suitable for various materials, including paper, canvas, and textiles.
  3. Sublimation printing excels in producing vibrant colors on polyester fabrics, while digital printing offers versatility and quick turnaround times for different materials.

Sublimation vs Digital Printing

The difference between sublimation and digital printing is that the sublimation is infused into the material, and digital prints are printed on the surface of the material. In contrast, dye sublimation is infused into the material. Sublimation print can not be damaged, whereas digital printing is subjected to decay.

Sublimation vs Digital Printing

Sublimation is a high-quality method, where an image is infused on the desired surface. Heat is used in this method to transfer the picture to the paper and then to the desired surface. High temperature and pressure are needed here.

Digital printing is a method where a digital image is directly printed on a surface of a material. This method is a cheap way to print designs on material surfaces. It is also known as flatbed printing. Digital printing is faster than sublimation.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSublimationDigital Printing
Definition Sublimation is a method where an image is transferred from paper to metal.Digital printing is a method where the image is printed directly on the surface.
UsageIt is reasonable for printing bulk. Then cheaper.It is not a great way to get print in bulk. It is best for sampling.
DyeDisperse dyes are used in sublimation. Reactive dyes are used in digital printing.
LongevitySublimation does not fade.Digital print fades away after multiple washes.
ExpenseSublimation is a costly and time-consuming method.Digital printing is a cheap and fast method.

What is Sublimation?

A high-quality process where the user’s picture becomes one with the surface, it is infused on the metal. In sublimation, there is nothing to scratch off or peel. The metal and the infused picture become one entity.

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In this process, an image is printed on a transfer paper sheet, and then it is placed on metal. Next, this metal is placed in a sublimation printer, where, with the help of heat, the transfer paper turns into a gas, and the image gets infused with the used metal.

The process is meant to be followed carefully in order to get successful results.

In sublimation printing, the inks get absorbed directly into the surface of the metal. As a result, the print is long-lasting. It does not get damaged after multiple washes, and it can withstand UV light as well. Sublimation is not proven to be good for glossy prints.

The surfaces that should be used in sublimation must be polymer-coated, such as aluminium, wood, and plastics. In this print, the design gets its details vivid, and the colours get saturated effects.

Printing products are needed in small quantities if the printing is done in bulk. It is production feasible.


What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is a method of printing a digital image directly on a surface. This technique is also known as flatbed printing. One can edit the image digitally before printing. Digital printing prints fast.

Digital printing is printed on Dibond panels, including a polyester core. It does not require anything additional. Digital print can tolerate UV light, but after multiple washes, the print starts to get fade.

Digital printing can be done on multiple surfaces, such as paper and plastic. Plates, rubber rolls, nothing is needed in digital printing. Not many products are needed in this.

It prints with powdered toner or liquid ink. As editing of the picture is possible here before printing, enhancement of images is an added advantage in this printing. The texture and sharpness of the image can be captured in digital printing.

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This way of printing is very flexible, easy and fast. And a small quantity of production Is beneficial as that costs much less than any other available methods of printing.

Although this printing costs less, it becomes expensive if one tries to do more quantity of print runs in one go. It is not production feasible. It is a good way to test by printing samples.

digital printing

Main Differences Between Sublimation and Digital Printing

  1. In sublimation, an image is transferred from paper to metal, whereas in digital printing, the image is printed directly on the surface.
  2. Sublimation is a costly and time-consuming way of printing, but digital printing is a cheap and fast way to do the job.
  3. In sublimation, dispersed dyes are used for printing, whereas in digital printing, reactive dyes are used.
  4. Even after multiple washes, sublimation does not get fade, while on the other hand, digital print fades away after multiple washes.
  5. Fabric does not need to be coated in sublimation printing, but the fabric needs to be coated in digital printing.
  6. An image is transferred in sublimation, whereas images are printed directly on the surface in digital printing.
  7. Sublimation is a wonderful method to print many supplies together. It costs cheaper when this printing is done in bulk. And digital printing is mostly used to test samplings as it is cheaper and takes less time.
Difference Between Sublimation and Digital Printing

Last Updated : 14 July, 2023

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25 thoughts on “Sublimation vs Digital Printing: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The comparison table is clear and concise, providing a quick reference to the important distinctions between sublimation and digital printing.

  2. The article provides an insightful comparison of sublimation and digital printing, making it easier to understand the technical and practical differences between the two methods.

  3. The detailed descriptions of sublimation and digital printing provide a comprehensive understanding of their uses and applications.

  4. The main differences between sublimation and digital printing are clearly outlined, allowing readers to gain a thorough understanding of the unique features and applications of these printing methods.

    • I couldn’t agree more, the detailed insights into sublimation and digital printing are valuable for anyone looking to leverage these technologies.

    • Absolutely, the article provides a holistic view of the differences, catering to the diverse needs of professionals in the printing industry.

  5. The key takeaways from this article are insightful and well-summarized, which makes it easier to understand the differences between sublimation and digital printing.

  6. The clear distinction between sublimation and digital printing in terms of cost, longevity, and usage is well-elucidated in this article, making it a valuable resource for those exploring these printing methods.

  7. The article rightly emphasizes the significance of careful adherence to the sublimation process for successful results, which is crucial information for practitioners in this field.

  8. The detailed explanations about sublimation and digital printing techniques are very informative, I’ve learned a lot from this article.

  9. The benefits and drawbacks of sublimation and digital printing are effectively outlined in this article, providing a well-rounded perspective on both methods.

    • I agree, this in-depth comparison helps in understanding the practical implications of using sublimation or digital printing for specific requirements.


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