Everything about Dye-Sublimation Printers

Everything about Dye-Sublimation Printers

Dye-sublimation printer is a specialist device used for photographic applications and demanding graphic arts. This printer was not introduced into the main stream till the advent of digital photography. The technology used in dye-sublimation printers is the base for many portable and standalone photo printers.
The word dye in dye-sublimation represents solid dye, which is used instead of toner or ink and the word Sublimation is the scientific word for the process that converts solid substances into gaseous form, without being required to pass the liquid state.


The process of printing used by dye-sublimation printer greatly differs from the inkjet printer. In an inkjet printer a tiny jet of ink is sprayed onto a page but in a dye-sublimation printer dye is applied from a plastic film which has separate panels for each color.
While printing, the roller of the printer moves one of the colored panels and the medium under the thermal printing head. The width of this head is same as the size of print medium. The temperature on the head is quickly changed by the heating elements found on the head. The high temperature allows the head to lay different quantities of dye, on the basis of the heat applied. After the dye is converted into gas, it settles and then solidifies on the print medium.
After one color has been used, the ribbon moves on to the next color panel. The print medium is then partially ejected to prepare for the next color. This process is repeated four times, in which the first three are for adding the colors to the medium and the final one is to laminate the print. The lamination is necessary to prevent the dye from re-sublimating.


Two kinds of inks are available for Dye-Sublimation Printers, out of which the most popular one is Aqueous ink, which can be used for both large format and desktop printers. The second one is Solvent ink, which is used on wide format printers.


The speed of the printer mainly depends on the time taken by the thermal head to change temperature. This is because the printer uses heat to apply the dye on the print media. While raising the temperature of the elements is fast, the time is mainly consumed when it has to be cooled, especially when moving from darker color to lighter color. A fan or a heat sink is required to cool the elements. Multiple head dye-sublimation printers are certainly faster, as one head can continue printing, while the other takes time to cool down. While the printing speeds can differ on the basis of various factors, a regular dye-sublimation printer designed for home use can print a picture of size 6" x 4" within 45 to 90 minutes.