The dye-sublimation printing process is used to print on polyester or other synthetic fabrics. It is used for applications such as T-shirts, banners, table covers, ID cards, sportswear and flags. The dye sublimation inks are a pigment suspended in liquid solvent, like water (sustainable printing). The images are initially printed on coated heat-resistant transfer paper as a reverse image of the final design, which is then transferred onto polyester fabric in a heat press operating at a temperature around 180 to 210 C (375 F). Under high temperature and pressure, the dye turns into gas and permeates the fabric and then solidifies into its fibers.
The fabric is permanently dyed so it can be washed without damaging the quality of the image. Today Mimaki also offers printers that can print directly on fabrics, thus eliminating the need of transfer paper.