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What is Spot Sublimation Printing?

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What is Spot Sublimation Printing?

We're talking about that oft-overlooked and mysterious printing technique known as "spot sublimation" or also referred to as "spot sub" for short.


If you’re looking for more design flexibility than screen printing but lower costs and shorter turnaround time than full sublimation, spot sublimation may be the best choice.

"Sublimation" refers to the matter phase-transition of a solid directly into a gas. For both full and spot sub printing, we use a fancy ink-jet printer with special dyes to produce transfer sheets with your jersey design. That transfer sheet gets put directly onto the garment fabric and is heat pressed. That rapid temperature change triggers the sublimation of the printed dye - it becomes a gas, transfers to the fabric, and then quickly sets. And that's how the magic happens!

What's the difference between full and spot sub?

Glad you asked! Full sub jerseys are exactly as the name implies - the jersey is fully printed. We're able to do this because the dye-sublimation process happens before the garment is sewn and assembled.

Spot sub printing happens after the garment has been assembled, so at this point, we can only apply printing to areas where we can lay the garment flat. Also, because of the nature of dye sublimation printing, we can generally only do sublimation on white fabrics. Even full sub jerseys are really just white jerseys with all-over dye-sublimation printing!

What's the difference between spot sub and screen printing?

Another FANTASTIC question, dear reader! Both of these techniques generally have the same limitations in terms of printing area (front, back, or sleeves), but there are a few key differences. With spot sub, you have an unlimited color range, and there's no added cost for using more colors! Also, screen printing uses heavy inks that are more akin to paint than our sublimation dyes, so spot sub jerseys will stay light and breathable no matter how large your design is.

Congratulations! You're now an expert on spot sub printing! For a further breakdown of each of our custom printing options, take a look at our custom printing options page.

Sounds amazing? Want to use it for your team kit?

Say no more - let's get you in contact with our Custom team.