Dye Sublimation vs. Screen Printing

Here at Celina Tent we are often asked why dye sublimation is better than screen printing.  To better understand why dye sublimation is superior to screen printing, we must first understand what screen printing and dye sublimation are.  

What is screen printing?

Screen printing is a somewhat labor intensive process, especially if more than one color is in the design.  First, a screen is cut to make a stencil for the design.  Ink is spread over the screen passing through to the fabric underneath.  Only one color per screen can be used so depending on the number of colors in the design, multiple screens may be necessary to produce the final product.   After the image has been screened onto the fabric, the fabric is placed in a dryer to set the ink.  If you run your finger across a screen printed material, you will feel the difference between the printed and unprinted areas.  This is because the print is on top of the material, not embedded into it.  

What is dye sublimation?

Dye sublimation process uses special dyes to print a mirror image of virtually any image or pattern onto a special transfer paper.  The paper is then placed on the fabric and both are sent through a heat press.  The heat opens the pores of the fabric and turns the solid print into a gas which permeates the pores in the fabric allowing the gas to enter.  When the material cools, the pores close and the gas reverts back to a solid and is becomes a part of the fabric.  If you run your finger across a dye sublimated printed material, you will not feel a difference between the printed and unprinted areas.  This is because the print is embedded into the material; it is not sitting on top.

So why is dye sublimation superior to screen printing?

  • Screen Printing is not cost effective for multiple colors.
  • Screen printing can only print simple shape designs.
  • Screen printing only allows one design per batch.
  • Screen printing does not allow for seam to seam designs.
  • With screen printing, there is a risk of inks running or colors not lining up.
  • Over time screen printed items crack and peel becoming ugly.
  • Screen printing is only available on stock material colors.
  • Dye Sublimation allows for an infinite number of color combinations.
  • Dye Sublimation can print high resolution, intricate patterns and images.
  • Dye Sublimation allows for many designs per batch.
  • Dye Sublimation allows for seam to seam designs. 
  • With dye sublimation, there is no risk of inks running or colors not lining up.
  • Over time dye sublimated items do not crack and peel.  
  • Dye sublimation can color match CMYK and pantone colors

Dye Sublimation is not the only print method we use at Celina Tent.  For Fast Shade Pop-Up Canopies, Fast Shade Pronto Pop-Up Canopies, Feather Flags, Table Covers, Table Runners, Chairs, and Pop-Up Banners, we use dye sublimation to get the print onto the fabric.  For printed vinyl tents, printed vinyl sidewalls, printed barrel covers, step & repeat banners, boulevard banners, concession banners, breakaway banners, retractable banners, scrolling banners, and barricade banners we use solvent printing.  For more information on dye sublimation and solvent printing, please see the printing overview video.  

If you would like to receive a quote on any of the items mentioned here, please send an email with your artwork to art@celinatent.com and we’d be happy to get you a quote and free rendering.  For more information and artwork requirements, please see the artwork guidelines video.  

If you have any questions or need anything further, please call 844-803-9444.