View Full Version : Sublimation

Stephen Beckham
07-12-2007, 10:29 PM
Are you guys going to put up a Sublimation Forum? I don't know if there is enough need for it - but working with laser sublimation and laser etching in my business - I have as much fit with both ends...

Should I just start asking sublimation questions in the Laser Forum?


Keith Outten
07-13-2007, 7:05 AM

I do a bit of dye-sublimation and would like for us to have a Forum here just for that purpose. If enough of our Members who are interested in a dye-sub request a Forum we will certainly create one. For now the Laser Engraving and CNC Forum is the best place for dye-sub posts.


Mike Null
07-13-2007, 10:45 AM
May I suggest we combine dye sublimation with color laser transfer as it is becoming increasingly popular and there are some similarities---as well as differences.

Keith Outten
07-13-2007, 12:21 PM
How about a new Sign Making Forum, that might fit dye-sub CLT and a host of other techniques?

Mike Null
07-13-2007, 12:50 PM
Even better!

Brian Robison
07-13-2007, 2:22 PM
Sounds good to me too.

Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-14-2007, 5:25 PM
Hello All,

I am interested in getting into Color Laser Toner Sublimation (CLTT). I've been all over the web trying to find useful information about CLTT. The problem I've been encountering is that the sites I've found recommend specific printers but when I go to the mfr's sites, those specific printers are usually discontinued.

Apparently not all printers have sublimation toners available for them. Which laser printers are good for CLTT and what is a good source for the sublimation toners?

Whatever help and guidance anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Doug Jones from Oregon
09-14-2007, 6:41 PM
Mike, currently, if you are speaking of full color laser sublimation, I believe the only printers available to you are: Konica Minolta, Okidata, and the old H/P model 4550.

There are several folks using lasers for a heat transfer process using the first two mentioned models and a model from Samsung. With this process, you have to use specific coated paper but you do not have to use coated substrate.

I personally do the latter, using a older model Konica Minolta 2300DL. I understand that the newer model 25XX is also being used for both processes.


Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-14-2007, 10:22 PM
Hi Doug,

Thanks for the information. Yes, I am talking about full color laser sublimation. I've read that some of the processes permit using plain laser paper without the need for the more expensive specialty papers. Do you know anything about this process? I would prefer to be able to use plain laser paper.

Stephen Beckham
09-14-2007, 10:51 PM
Mike - you're right about few printers that have toner cartridges available for them. I settled for the HP 4550. Personally - I love it! But part of that is because I've got experience working on HP printers and was able to fix my own twice now. The 4550 is a work horse and made to print 14,000 to 40,000 prints a month (cycle). I've printed about 500 so far and it works great now that I'm up and running. It doesn't like cold weather or humid environments...

I had to put an additional $300 in mine to replace internal color transfer sheet and tranfer film rollers. When you buy - you will be getting a refurbished machine. You may be lucky - you may be stuck. Ask for a sample print from the prospected purchase - mine had a total print of just over 7,000 on arrival - a mere child for it's age...

Don't take it lightly - but the good news is that they are only a couple hundred dollars anyway and it's almost as cheap to buy another one and use for parts.

The expense is the Laser Toner - you'll put $1200 out to start up. You also have the choice to buy regular cartidges (~$400 for all four) to swap so that you're printer can be used for normal printing (can't easily be done with ink jets because of purging lines and stuff). I bought a black to do simple printing like business cards and stuff - great quality printer.

After you're setup and running - you'll spend $.40 per page in toner and pennies on paper since it uses normal laser printer paper.

Biggest flaw - you're limited to 8.5 X 11 or 8.5 X 14. Sucks when you want to do something big. It lets you print edge to edge, but sometimes - that's just not enough.

Works great on Silver and Gold Sublimation Metals - doesn't work well on the white. You sublimate it right through the plastic coating on the metal and peel off both after cooling.

Doesn't work well on most plastics, FRP and or mugs because it requires lots of cleaning of left over toner. Easily comes off, but adds the extra step.

Doesn't work well on white material (shirts/shorts). You will have small amounts of blues/greens/reds etc of excess toner that will light up after heating that you didn't notice prior to heating. Ghost toner if you will. No way to defeat it - it gives a slight blue/greyish tint. If you know it's there, it'll drive you nuts - most others don't notice it until it's pointed out. I always use a square, oval or circle around the outer edge of my image and cut the paper to that shape. You'll never notice the extra tint because of the border.

It's a heavy bugger - you'll pay huge on shipping - hope you don't plan on using it in the basement.

Drivers are old for it - works well with Win98 all the way up through XP - haven't tried it in Vista.

Buy the Net Card for it - you will likely want this noisy thing sitting too far away to use a parallel cable and most newer computers don't do the parrallel anymore - it doesn't have a USB.

Gosh - not much more to add beyond that... Hope that's not info-overload. If you have more specific questions or would like to see samples, please let me know...


Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-14-2007, 11:11 PM
Hi Stephen,

Thank you for all the info. I actually already have an HP Color Laser Jet 2605dn but apparently they don't make sublimation toner cartridges for it. :mad: Do you know anybody who has any experience with the Okidata or Konica printers?

Kind of bums me out hearing about the drawbacks with sublimating to plastics, T-Shirts/Shorts, etc... I wonder if the other brands of printers have these problems as well.

Another thing that worries me about the HP 4550 is the possibility of folks who carry the sublimation toner for it, discontinuing to carry it since the printer is no longer made. Concerns me a bit about the longevity of being able to use it.

Mike Null
09-15-2007, 7:47 AM
I think Steve has pretty well nailed it for you but these people can offer some guidance and are very helpful.


Mike Hood
09-15-2007, 10:17 AM
It really would be nice if there was a sublimation area on the Creek. I've just gotten started with sublimation a few months back, but see already that a dye sub setup is a huge compliment to my other equipment.

I have an Epson 4800 Hybrid and love it!

Keith Outten
09-15-2007, 12:00 PM

I would also like to see a sublimation forum here at The Creek, its a popular subject for me since I started dye-sublimating Corian. We just need to get more people involved in the process...and to attract more sign makers to join us.


Stephen Beckham
09-15-2007, 3:44 PM
Mike - my understanding on the toner cartridges is that they won't make new ones because of the modifications they had to make to get the 4550 toners to work for sublimation.

The grain size of the toner for sublimation is larger - therefore they had to mill out the original HP toner cartridges to allow for the sublimation use. That is why they want you to return them for refill. They continue to use the old ones that have already been modified since it is more cost effect for them to maintain and use the existing ones than to remanufacture a whole new line. Of course - that doesn't mean your worries won't come true in the future.

The colors on "white" issues are a shortcoming of laser toner to my understanding. No matter which you go with - you would see this to some extent.

Please continue to do research - my last post was my experience - not the professional knowledge you would get from Jack and crew over at Alpha Supply. He has answered 95% of my questions and I think I restated them pretty close to his original comments. The Colour Magic site is related to Alpha Supply...

Doug Jones from Oregon
09-15-2007, 4:38 PM
Mike, I agree with all that was said about the H/P 4550.

It is my understanding that the Konica model sold by ColorStar does not have the bleed problem and is therefore usable for the entire selection of sublimatible products.

The Oki is supported by Al from Att Transfer. I have not heard as much good regarding his options but he is pushing a white toner option pretty hard.

The absolute beauty of laser sublimation is the lack of clogging problems that have been the main challenge of the process.


All the usual disclaimers, not a representative of either company, just a heat transfer user.

Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-15-2007, 5:35 PM
Can I use my current HP Color LaserJet 2605dn but with the specialty papers that are around? I've read that this sometimes called an OEM Laser transfer.

If I have my brain around all this "dye-sub" stuff, it seems like there two primary methods related to using a color laser printer (excluding the entire InkJet realm). One method seems to be using plain old toners (thus called OEM I assume) but specialty paper as the transfer medium. The other method seems to be using special sublimation toners but with plain copier/laser paper as the transfer medium. Is my thinking/understanding correct on this? :confused:


Doug Jones from Oregon
09-15-2007, 7:25 PM
Mike, In the most basic of terms, your understanding is correct.

As for running a coated paper in your laser, unless it has been previously tested, it is on you. If your fuser is too hot, for an example, it may heat the coating to much and cause damage inside your laser. You will have to decide if your printer is expendable. I know that I have been looking at the new color lasers offered by Dell and am strongly considering buying one just to test...when I have a couple hundred I can afford to throw away....

The other element of unknown results is, how good is the H/P OEM toner in regards to adhering to the substrate and what is the UV life? It is believed that the Oki toner has the best UV life, but no real, accelerated, testing has been done to my knowledge.

Now that you are thinking OEM laser transfer, celebrate the thought of being able to buy substrates locally, not paying high shipping costs of expensive coated product. No more polyester t-shirts, no more coated tiles or mugs, ability to print onto acrylic....and don't tell anyone, plain glass.


Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-15-2007, 8:37 PM
Hi Doug,

Thank you for the information. Sounds like the Okidata might be a good choice. I get the impression that you also use OEM toners as well, correct? Based on other sources I've read, it appears that that the laser toner method is cheaper than inkjet when broken down to a piece-by-piece comparison.

Do you have a good source for the specialty papers? Are the VersTrans papers from PSI/Cactus a reasonable option?

When doing OEM laser transfer to coffe mugs, how do they hold up to dishwashing?

What about "white"...do you rely on a white background of the substrate as the "white" for an image on the item? This sounds like dark substrates would be out if there is a need for white on the image...at least when doing OEM laser...correct?

As always, the members at SawMill Creek have been such an incredbile help. It's forums and communities SMC that make newer members like myself proud to be associated with such a great group of folks. :)

Mike Null
09-16-2007, 8:03 AM

Based on one of your posts I read on another forum I would encourage you to follow Steve's advice and talk to Jack or Roy at Alpha Supply (colormagic) as they are the most knowledgeable people I've found in the sublimation area.

Even though the HP 4550 has been discontinued I believe they are still recommending re-furbished units.

For what it's worth, I am discontinuing printing sublimation transfers and will outsource that to someone who has a volume operation. Sublimation printers using ink msut be operated frequently or clogging will occur.

Mike Hood
09-16-2007, 9:23 AM
I make a note to at least print a nozzle check once a week on my Epson. I have some standard Tee Shirts and dye sub mugs I sell a lot of and I simply put a color bar at the bottom of the image. I run a sheet of each through if I'm not planning on using the printer in the near future. At least I have the transfers for future use.

There are some really amazing things that can be done with tiles and hardboard. Especially, if you're into woodworking or have a laser as well.

(really cool jigsaw puzzles too...) :)

Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-16-2007, 11:12 AM
I am trying to find an alternative method than going with the sublimation specific toners that are being sold. The approximate $300 per cartridge seems pretty steep. However by using OEM style toner, it means having to use more expensive specialty paper. I'm just concerned about purchasing a refurbished HP 4500/4550 and then eventually having problems finding parts and/or making repairs. I wish there was a source providing sublimation specific toners for a model of printer that is still being manufactured today.

I'll contact the folks at Colormagic and see what they have to say.

Doug Jones from Oregon
09-16-2007, 1:52 PM

I currently, only run OEM Laser transfers. I'm not doing any sublimation currently. Got very tired of the clogging and color shifting, and, expense of coated tiles shipped into the NW. Now I can go to the borg and buy tile, Walmart and buy a tshirt, or to my sandcarving stash for a chunk of glass!

Yes, Versatrans is my coated paper of choice, but, I have to disclose, I'm friends of Mick from Cactus and Steve at PSI was a previous distributor of my frame products so I'm biased. That said, on the leading forum for sublimation you will find both Steve and Mick much more visable that the other OEM laser coated paper folks, that means much to me.

Yes, OEM is still a light substrate process.

As for coffee mug dishwasher ability...don't own a dishwasher so I have not done testing. I suggest anyone that gets a mug from me, hand wash. Have not heard anymore. I do post bake my tiles and mugs for awhile in the oven before handling them or using them. Also, I have found that a satin glaze or in the case of tiles, bisque is the best. I've had some challenges on glossy glazes.

As for cost savings. Don't know. I've never considered the price of the ink and transfer paper to be a big issue compared to what I charge for the process itself. If I'm able to make a little more money know because of OEM laser, it is more because of lack of ink wasted on clogs or color shifting and maybe a lower cost of ink and paper.

One thing I would suggest. You might want to consider the minolta due to being able to switch between oem and sublimation toner is you wish to down the road. I'm not a fan of the need for a leader strip on the transfer paper on the Oki...I don't seem to need it on my Minolta.

Good luck.

Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-16-2007, 2:10 PM
Hi Doug,

[quote=Doug Jones from Oregon;659708]You might want to consider the minolta due to being able to switch between oem and sublimation toner is you wish to down the road. I'm not a fan of the need for a leader strip on the transfer paper on the Oki...I don't seem to need it on my Minolta.quote]

When you refer to the "leader strip" does that basically mean the Oki will not print edge-to-edge? Does the Minolta permit edge-to-edge printing?

Doug Jones from Oregon
09-16-2007, 5:27 PM
Mike, the leader strip is a small piece of paper applied to the leading edge of the paper. It aids in the feed of each sheet into the printer. Not sure I understand why it is necessary, but, it is.

I've experience nothing like this with the Minolta as long as I remember to set the heavy paper selection...otherwise, ugly things happen!

I don't think I've ever seen a laser that will do edge to edge on the paper. I'm sure none of my 3 will. Minolta, Dell, and the H/P 4550


Mike Null
09-17-2007, 6:51 AM

I believe it is cheaper to make products using the CLT process as the toners are less expensive than sub. ink by a long way. Paper is more expensive but the ability to use any substrate more than offsets that. I find the reject rate on CLT to be far less than with dye sub.

If your image requires white you must have a white substrate regardless of the process.

In the case of dark shirt transfers there is a 2 part paper which provides the white but it must be trimmed to the image.

My system is an old Panasonic P8415 using the Magictouch papers and drivers (no longer supplied). It was expensive but has been ultra reliable.

I use Scotch tape on the leading edge of my paper as I have experienced some jamming from time to time.

Mike DeRegnaucourt
09-17-2007, 6:26 PM
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the info. I think I'm ready to make the plunge. I'll have to post some pictures once I'm setup and ready.