Reviews of dye sublimation with wide-format ink jet printers
This page was originally written seven years ago. We are updating it with a new page on dye sublimation inkjet printing based on what’s available today (2008).
"Dye sublimation" has two meanings, dye sub printer (resin or wax ribbons) or else dye transfer where the ink sublimates when heated during the transfer overlay process. To understand both aspects consult the FLAAR reports.
Dye sublimation heat transfer using large format inkjet printers is a booming commercial market. Up until now it has required considerable investment capital and experience to enter this market. Experience in this case means lots of trial and error. Now there are many new dye sublimation systems which can print on media and then transfer the design to anything which can be coated with polyester, including special tiles, metal, and naturally cloth.
Back in 2001, I noticed the ColorSurf from an Italian company, Sintesi s.p.a. The colors are controlled by ColorGate, a German company that also makes PostScript software RIP for ColorSpan, Hewlett-Packard, Epson and other printers.
Under the Sintesi hood is a variant of the Mutoh, presumably with Epson heads (usual on a Mutoh). There has presumably been an adaptation to allow the use of dye sublimation inks. DPI is the standard 360 dpi, 720 dpi, and 720x1440.
The ColorGate people said that the ColorSurf + ColorGate solution was considerably less costly than the dye sublimation offered by Sawgrass.
If you are in the USA then you want an American printer, or at least a printer sold and serviceable in the USA. Seiko offers a new dye-sublimation printer for 2008, Seiko Color Textiler 64DS.
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