By J. Stephen Spence
One of the most common issues I hear about sublimation is when people are trying to use white text or white lines (especially thin ones) on a colored background â€“ especially black.
And itâ€™s true â€“ this can be a pain â€“ but: There is an easy solution to most of these problems. What happens is, because we canâ€™t sublimate white, gold or silver, the way we get these colors in our designs is to use a substrate of that color. Rather than sublimating ink or toner to create those colors, we literally leave holes in our design where the substrate can show through â€“ thatâ€™s simple enough.
What happens however is the absence of ink or toner makes it easy for the ink around the edges of the â€œholesâ€ to migrate or press inward into the empty space (nature hates a vacuum and all that). This causes very fine â€œholesâ€ to actually close up, especially with the strongest of the colors which is black.
There is no way to stop this from happening. What we can do however, is compensate for it and thatâ€™s fairly easy.
When using text, just add a thin white outline to the text. That is usually enough to offset any migration. If it isnâ€™t, beef up the outline slightly. Depending on the size of text being used, you can often add a 2 or even a 4 point outline which makes the text look bloated on the screen but will make it look just right in the finished product.
The larger the text is, the less you will have to worry about this but if you are using less than 14 point, you will probably need to apply the technique. Very small white text, say less than 10 point, is even more demanding. To get nice tiny text, not only will you need to beef up the width as much as possible but you will also need to remember the three things that make sublimation work well:
Accurate temperature on your press.
The right amount of time in the press.
The right amount of pressure in your press.
And Iâ€™ll add a fourth, cooling the product as quickly as possible after pressing to stop the sublimation process.
With white lines, the same problem exists but you canâ€™t add an outline to a line so the solution is just to beef up the line. If you want a 1 point line, use a 2 point or even a 3 point. If you want a 4 point line, use a 6 point, etc.
You may have to experiment a bit to find what is right for your press and graphic but after you do it awhile, you will know almost instinctively how much to beef things up to get a good finished product.
To learn more about printing white text and lines, check out CondeTV for â€œWorking with White Text & Linesâ€.