Most Common Sublimation Printing Problems & How to fix Them

Most Common Sublimation Printing Problems & How to fix Them

Sublimation printing is popular for its vibrant and long-lasting effects, while being easy and fun to create. However, like any process, it comes with its own set of unique challenges. Here, we take a deep dive into some of the most common sublimation printing problems and provide practical solutions to enhance your printing process, improve output quality, and minimize waste through troubleshooting advice and optimization techniques.


1. GhostingBleeding

  • A slight shadow or blur appears around the printed design, diminishing its sharpness.

Ghosting generally occurs when the sublimation transfer paper moves even slightly during the sublimation process. This can happen at the time when you open or close your heat press. To prevent this, secure the transfer paper to the substrate using heat-resistant tape. Slowly opening your press will decrease the chance of the transfer shifting as well. Also, ensure the heat press provides even and adequate pressure.

Bleeding can occur if the ink is too saturated. Reduce the ink saturation in your printer settings and ensure you're using the correct transfer paper type for your substrate. Also, adjusting the temperature and time on the heat press can help.2


2. Banding

  • Horizontal lines appear across the printed image.

Banding is typically a result of clogged nozzles in the printer. Perform a print head cleaning cycle and check if the sublimation ink levels are sufficient. In the case of some printers, this is done automatically. On the other hand, you will need to perform a manual head cleaning for other printers. Regular maintenance of the printer is key to preventing this issue.


3. Small Dots

  • Small spots may appear on the finished product due to the presence of moisture.

We recommend that you simply pre-press the substrates to get the moisture out. All fabrics contain some type of moisture. That is why you want to pre-press most blanks. Then, let the substrate cool down, place your transfer on, and press like normal.


4. Color Issues

  • Colors not printing accurately or appearing faded.

Ensure your sublimation printer is using ICC profiles, which help in managing colors accurately. Regularly calibrate your printer and computer monitor to ensure color consistency. Also, using high-quality sublimation ink and paper can make a significant difference. Kamo provides you with high-quality sublimation ink and paper, allowing you to avoid color differences caused by ink and paper to the greatest extent.


5. Substrate Issues

  • Ink not transferring properly or the substrate is getting damaged. 

Not all materials are suitable for sublimation printing. Ensure your substrate is sublimation-ready, typically polymer-coated or a polyester blend for fabrics. For example, to print on a cup, you need to buy a cup with a polymer coating to complete the sublimation printing.

For fabrics, we recommend 100% white polyester for the best transfer. It is not possible to sublimate on 100% cotton – and your transfer will wash away in the first wash cycle.

Adjust the heat press settings according to the material type and thickness.


 6. Pressing Problems

  • Uneven pressure or incorrect temperature leading to poor quality prints.

Regularly inspect your heat press to ensure it's providing uniform pressure and the temperature is accurate. Length of time, temperature, and even pressure can make your print look faded. Use a high-quality heat press that allows for precise adjustments and consider using a silicone pad for even pressure distribution.



Sublimation printing, while offering unparalleled quality and versatility, does require attention to detail and a bit of troubleshooting now and then. By understanding these common problems and implementing the suggested fixes, you can greatly improve your printing outcomes. Happy printing!

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